Welcome to Willich, a picturesque town in the district of Viersen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Tucked away just 20 km west of Düsseldorf, 14 km north of Mönchengladbach, and 10 km south of Krefeld, Willich is a hidden gem that offers visitors a glimpse into traditional German life, complete with a rich history, stunning architecture, and charming locals.
Willich is a relatively new town, having been founded in 1970 out of the formerly independent villages of Willich, Anrath, Schiefbahn, and Neersen, although these villages are much older. Anrath was first mentioned in 1010, Willich in 1245, Neersen in 1262, and Schiefbahn in 1420. These villages belonged to the Electorate of Cologne until the French Revolutionary Wars, when French troops occupied the left bank of the Rhine in 1794. France annexed the territory later (1797/1801) and kept it until 1814. After the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the Congress of Vienna was held, and the villages fell under the Kingdom of Prussia.
During the 19th century, more than 100 Jews lived in the four villages. Tragically, during the Third Reich, the Nazis deported 40 Jews – of whom 38 were ultimately murdered in the Nazi death camps.
One of Willich’s most famous buildings is Schloss Neersen, a castle that goes back to the 13th century and was heavily rebuilt in the 17th century. It now houses many town council offices, and an open-air summer theatre is held in the grounds. Another moderately well-known pilgrimage destination is the 17th century Klein-Jerusalem wayside chapel. Visitors can also explore the former royal prison in Anrath, which is now a federal state prison named Justizvollzugsanstalt Willich.
Willich offers convenient transport links, including an interchange between the Bundesautobahn 44 and Bundesautobahn 52 motorways within the municipal area, and five junctions nearby. The railway station in Anrath is on the railway between Duisburg and Mönchengladbach.
Willich is a thriving economic hub, with several international companies, especially from the Far East, having their European or German headquarters in the town.
Finally, Willich is twinned with Linselles in France, Smiltene in Latvia, and Zogoré in Burkina Faso. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful place to relax or an exciting new destination to explore, Willich has something for everyone. Come and discover this charming town for yourself!