Neuss is a city of 150,000 inhabitants, situated on the river Rhine near Düsseldorf in southern Germany. It has a Münster1, some museums, a park, a harbour, and a tourist information centre that can point you to such delights as the ancient Roman fossa sanguinis2.
Neuss was once besieged by Karl dem Kühnen and his armies, but the Neussers kept him out of the city until they were finally freed by an imperial3 army. This gained the Neussers the right to bear weapons to defend their city. To commemorate this historical event, the people in Neuss gather on the penultimate weekend in August to celebrate the Schützenfest.
All shops close on Friday and don't open again until Tuesday. The largest square in the town is crammed with a fair, and every day there are at least five parades through the city, composed of Schützenvereinen or Hobby Rifle Clubs. A shooting match is held, and the winner of the contest will be next year's Schützenkönig or Rifle King.
However, the main aspect of the Schützenfest seems to be getting drunk in public. Throughout the city there are beer stands where Alt Bier is sold and at the fair there's a big beer marquee. On Friday the participants start drinking, and they won't stop until Monday, which is why the final procession is called the Wobbling Parade.
Neuss on the Nose
Whenever the wind blows from the east, the shopping street smells - no, stinks - like concentrated scrambled eggs with bacon. This is because of the oil mill in the harbour.
Lying as it does in the landscape of the Lower Rhine, Neuss has no hills. Everything is more or less flat apart from the local tip. All the rubbish that the Neussers have produced in recent years has been piled up in one place and now forms a substantial hill. Naturally it's the highest hill in Neuss, and the locals seem to be quite proud of it. They've actually put up a plaque indicating that it's Neuss' highest hill. It reaches a height of 88 metres above sea level. And if pride in the municipal rubbish heap doesn't seem unusual enough, the latest plans are to run an indoor artificial ski slope down it.