Cologne cathedral, Neuschwanstein castle and the Brandenburg Gate have long been among the names Chinese tourists would try to pronounce when asked about their dream destinations in Germany. But the regional cities Wuppertal and Trier are the newest tongue-twisters on Chinese wish-lists.
But it’s not Wuppertal’s history as an industrial center, nor its Schwebebahn, a suspension monorail, that bring Chinese tourists from half way around the world. Nor is it the city’s ornate 19th century concert hall, despite the fact that more than 300 million television viewers have seen it used as a location in a Chinese reality TV show. And in Trier, it isn’t the 2nd Century Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, that has tour groups from Guangzhou flocking.
It’s the birth houses of the fathers of communism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that the Chinese are coming to see. Indeed, in 2014 Wuppertal received a statue of Engels as a gift from the People’s Republic; and in 2018 Trier is to receive a 6.3 meter (21 foot) high monument to Karl Marx.