Watertravel & Waterside Destinations The sun rises on a misty morning in the Lower Rhine near Kalkar.

Lower Rhine    Xanten    Kalkar    Kevelaer    Kleve    Kranenburg    Nijmegen
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The Lower Rhine / Niederrhein, Germany

The Lower Rhine region of Germany spreads out on both sides of the great river, where it flows downhill from the Middle Rhine wine country and fans out into a broad delta of sloughs and backwaters at or near sea level.

The region’s boundaries are indistinct. Some would say the Lower Rhine covers everything from Bonn to Hoek van Holland. Others define it much more narrowly, perhaps from Düsseldorf to the Dutch border.A small flock of geese flies over the old mill at Keeken, near Kleve, in Germany's Lower Rhine region.

With modern education, High German is standard throughout the country. In earlier times, though, and still for many people today, the regions had distinct dialects. There are cultural as well as linguistic differences to the south of Düsseldorf. For instance, inheritance in that region would traditionally be divided more or less equally among the children. North of that city the eldest son would inherit everything.

Some of the Lower Rhine towns and cities, such as Xanten and Nijmegen, date back two millenia to the Roman colonial period. Others, such as Kleve and Kranenburg, are "only" in the 800-year-old range. For centuries, though, the Duchy of Kleve (often referred to as "Cleves" by English speakers) was administered as an independent country. Today Kleve is still one of the region’s more prominent cities. In the intervening centuries, borders were more fluid and ownership changed. While the Niederrhein, or Lower Rhine, might stop at the current Dutch border in the minds of many, in fact there has been an historically close relationship between Nijmegen (called Nimwegen by Germans) and Kleve (called Kleef by the Dutch). It continues today as in medieval times.

A motorboat heads down the Altrhein, passing Düffelward.
Copyright © Don Douglas