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Knives from Solingen: Visiting Germany’s knife-making capital

 

Solingen town's crest

Solingen, a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia, is home to several of the world’s top knife and cutlery producers. Unless you’re a chef or someone with an interest in luxury kitchenware, there’s a good chance that you’ve never heard about German knives before. Germany is actually one of the top producers of high-quality knives in the world, and almost all of them come from this little town near Düsseldorf.

Often called “the city of blades,” Solingen produces premium-quality blades of all kinds including scissors, razors, swords, cutlery, and knives. Knife makers like Zwilling J. A. Henckels, Wüsthof, and Messermeister, three of the biggest names in chef-grade knives, all have their factories here along with Dreiturm, DOVO, Böker, Clauberg, Eickhorn, and many others.

Visiting Solingen

Solingen is situated within easy reach of two German Airports: Düsseldorf International Airport and Cologne Bonn Airport (Köln Bonn Airport). Getting from either to Solingen is fairly straight-forward, and typically takes less than an hour.

Düsseldorf to Solingen is roughly 40 minutes by car, or 50 minutes by train (S1 train goes directlyt from the airport to Solingen). Köln Bonn Airport to Solingen takes around 40 minutes by car, and 45 minutes by train (you’ll need to change trains during the trip).

Although it’s possible to get to Solingen by train, many of the shops are situated far from the train station and you’ll either have a long walk or will need to take a taxi to get to them. Hiring a car at the airport is definitely the best option.

Solingen isn’t an overly touristy town, so there are only a few hotels and B&Bs here. Most have a tired and dated feel, but a few hotels are well-reviewed on TripAdvisor including Hotel Trafohaus and Hotel zur Post. For somewhere more upmarket, Park Villa in the nearby town of Wuppertal offers beautiful accommodation and is only a short drive away.

Shopping in Solingen

Wüsthof Factory Outlet

The most popular shop in Solingen is the Wüsthof Factory Outlet. Here, you’ll find Wüsthof knives, cutlery, and manicure sets for as much as half the price of what you’d typically pay elsewhere. It’s a small shop, much smaller than the US outlet in Norwalk, but it has everything you need and at very affordable prices as well. Bring cash as, like many German retailers, this store does not accept credit cards.

Wusthof chef's knife

As with many shops in Solingen, you’ll find a mixture of purely reduced products and factory seconds here. Most of the seconds have only tiny imperfections that are barely noticeable. If in doubt as the shop assistant to explain why the product is a second before making a purchase, however, the main things to look out for are that the knife tip is not damaged, that the blade is not warped in any way, and that the handle is comfortable to hold.

  • Address: Ed. Wüsthof Dreizackwerk KG, Kronprinzenstraße 49, 42655 Solingen, Germany

Others shops & outlets

  • ZWILLING Werksverkauf Grünewalder Strasse 14-22 42657 Solingen Deutschland
  • Felix Factory Outlet: An den Eichen 6, 42699, Solingen, Germany
  • Hubertus Factory Outlet: Wuppertaler Straße 147, 42653, Solingen
  • Güde: Franz Güde GmbH Katternberger Straße 175 42699 Solingen Deutschland
  • Gehring: Gehring Werksshop Solingen Gehring Schneidwaren GmbH Tersteegenstr. 37-39 42653 Solingen Deutschland
  • Triangle: triangle GmbH Friedenstraße 98 42699 Solingen Deutschland
  • RSG: RSG Rostfrei-Schneidwerkzeuge GmbH Löhdorfer Str. 169 42699 Solingen Deutschland
  • Nesmuk: Nesmuk GmbH & Co. KG Burgstraße 101 42655 Solingen Deutschland
  • Krups: Krups GmbH Factory Outlet Store Nümmener Feld 10 42719 Solingen Deutschland
  • Kochshop: Kochshop Solingen GmbH Höhscheider Weg 29 42699 Solingen-Aufderhöhe Deutschland
  • Böker: Heinr. Böker Baumwerk GmbH Schützenstr. 30 42659 Solingen Deutschland
  • Carl Mertens: Carl Mertens – Werksverkauf Krahenhöher Weg 8 42659 Solingen Deutschland
  • Burgvogel: Karl Bahns GmbH Burgvogel-Stahlwaren Burger-Landstr. 60 42659 Solingen Deutschland
  • Asket: Paul Hölzer GmbH Messerstr. 5a 42657 Solingen Deutschland

What to buy

Knife Block

If you’re not sure what to buy, the simplest and most obvious purchase is a chef’s knife set. Knife sets can start with as little as two knives, but usually contain around six or seven different knives including a chef’s knife and a paring knife.

Unless you’re looking specifically for a particular knife or brand, then a factory outlet store like the Wüsthof outlet is where you’ll get the best value for money.

Individual knives

Alternatively, you can get by with just a handful of knives. The most important knives to have (in order) are a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated or bread knife. After that, it’s really up to your own personal preference.

Other items

As well as individual knives and knife sets, you’ll also find cutlery, hunting knives, scissors, and manicure equipment on sale at retailers in Solingen.

Other things to do in Solingen

Solingen Castle entrance
Solingen Castle – Photo source: Wikipedia

As well as factory outlet stores for knives and other kitchenware, there are a handful of other things to see and do in Solingen. Solingen’s Castle, Schloss Burg, dates back as far as the 12th Century. The castle was badly damaged during the Second World War, but it has been repaired and reconstructed to match its original appearance. If you have a few extra houses in Solingen, the castle and its onsite museum are worth visiting.

Solingen is also home to several museums. For high-quality knife enthusiasts, the Deutsches Klingenmuseum (blade museum) is also worth a visit. This museum showcases the history of Solingen as a producer of high-quality blades for swords and knives.

The Laurel & Hardy Museum is also worth visiting, especially because it’s so surprising to find in a place like Solingen. Laurel & Hardy have no link to this part of Germany, the museum founders Wolfgang and Vera Günther are simply huge fans of the comedy duo and silent era comedy.

The museum was initially housed in an apartment of theirs on Bismarckstraße in Solingen, but in 2001 closed before reopening in its current location in 2003. In this museum, you’ll find an interesting collection of old posters, autographs, newspaper clippings, and film reel.

Those with a sweet tooth may want to visit the Haribo Factory Shop instead. Haribo, the maker of Germany’s famous gummy bears, is famously loved by both kids and adults alike. If you need a small gift to bring back home for your kids or (adults), it’s one that’s always a crowd-pleaser.

  • Website: Haribo.com
  • Address: Wuppertaler Str. 76, 42653 Solingen, Germany

Further Reading

Now that you’ve bought your knives, you may want to master essential knife skills. The following are just a few books on the subject, including one by German knife-maker Zwilling J. A. Henckels.

  • Mastering Knife Skills by Norman Weinstein
  • The Zwilling J. A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques and Care by Jeffrey Elliot and James DeWan
  • An Edge in the Kitchen by Chad Ward

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