Das Bergische Land

The Bergisch Land is hardly one of the more scenic parts of good old Germany. Unless you compare it with the rest of the Ruhr, you'd have to say it was a dump. But the travelling soccer fan will certainly be amused by the availibilty of desperate lower division teams trying to make the grade. Clubs like FC Remscheid, Union Solingen, SpVgg Erkenschwick dot the landscape, and they all basically suck. However, there is one reason that any soccer fan will definitely want to make this a stop: the legendary Wuppertaler Sport Verein...

The town of WUPPERTAL is at the heart of this region. In grade school you are force fed the local history, which basically consists of being unnoticed for centuries. Actually, Wuppertal is a "fusioned" city. The original towns of Barmen, Elberfeld, Vohwinkel, Sonneborn, Ronsdorf etc. combined in 1929 to make Wuppertal. Locals still identify with their township, but you won't see any rivalry like you would in the London soccer scene.

Among tourist attractions are the Friedrich Engels house, which is sure to be a hit with visitors from East Germany and Miamians of Cuban extraction. Watch as they try and add graffiti with the aid of a pipe bomb. Also not to be missed is the House with the Blue Door. I forget where it is, but it has a blue door!! I'm not kidding, this was a major attraction that was always included in any photo album of the city.

The upside down hanging train, the Schwebebahn is of course "world famous". Not sure which world that would be, but it is pretty cool.

Of course, the stunning scenery and cultural mecca of Wuppertal pail in comparison to the actual reason we make this journey: the legendary soccer club WUPPERTALER SV . The mere mention of this name strikes fear in the hearts of every other team in Germany. This is probably the only club in Germany that practices discrimination based on social Darwinism; how else could you explain only 1,000 fans showing up for their games? However, even after the WSV experience, there are other clubs to investigate. ASV Wuppertal is the city's largest sports club. Watching one of their local games is a must. There are several other clubs floating around, mostly small and strictly amateur. One of my favorites is SportFreunde Dönberg, a tiny village just north of Hatzfeld district.

Surrounding towns and villages have a variety of clubs, including SSVg Velbert. Not part of the Bergisch Land, but close enough is the town of OER-ERKENSCHWICK, which is the home of SpVgg Erkenschwick. I hate this club, mainly because they've always been a thorn in the side of WSV. I keep hoping they'll go bankrupt or at least get relegated, but they always manage to stay around and cause trouble for WSV.

Just south of Wuppertal is the suburbs, a.k.a REMSCHEID. The only reason to stop here would be to catch a game of FC Remscheid . They're basically worthless, but if the alternative is getting dragged into an art museum, you should check it out.

Heading further south, you come to the town of SOLINGEN. This is your basic drab, worthless town. The claim to fame rests on the famed Solingen cutlery, and perhaps the Solingen 1868 chess club, which used to be a powerhouse in the Schach Bundesliga. In more recent times, Solingen got some notoriety for some local yokels firebombing a house, killing several, in anti-foreigner xenophobia. The soccer club is Union Solingen , which is basically annoying, but has given Wuppertal some trouble in the past.

Close to Solingen is the town of BURG-AN-DER-WUPPER, with the region's obligatory castle, Schloß Burg, small, but quaint, not yet overrun by foreign tourists. There is a nice ski-lift to take you from the river/town down below up to the castle. Schoolkids like yours truly were once forced to march through the woods to the castle and then back for a "fun outing". There is no soccer club here, so you may be wondering about the lapse of the author's concentration. Nevertheless, a pleasant relaxing stop to charge up the batteries before heading on to Köln or the Ruhrgebiet.

The town of WERMELSKIRCHEN hardly merits any mention, but if you've got nothing else to do, you might check out the local club SV Wermelskirchen

Not part of the Bergisch Land, but close enough is the Siegerland, some 70 miles southwest of Wuppertal. The only city is SIEGEN. The only reason to visit this area, which is a bizarre combination of heavy industry and forests, would be to check out the local soccer club, SpFr Siegen. (However, as one observant reader pointed out: "You forgot to mention Siegerland has famous breweries like Krombacher, Erzquell, Eichener and Irle. That makes it worth visiting...").

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany