Düsseldorf (German: [ˈdʏsl̩dɔɐ̯f] ( listen), Low German: Düsseldörp [ˈdʏsl̩dœɐ̯p]) is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and center of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region with a population of 11 million people.
Düsseldorf is an international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located within the Blue Banana, the city is headquarters to five Fortune Global 500 and several DAX companies. Messe Düsseldorf claims to organise nearly one fifth of all world‘s premier trade shows.
Culturally, Düsseldorf is known for its academy of fine arts (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, e.g. Joseph Beuys, Emanuel Leutze, August Macke, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Andreas Gursky), its pioneering influence on electronic/experimental music (Kraftwerk) and its relatively large Japanese community. As a city by the river Rhine, Düsseldorf is a stronghold for Rhenish Carnival celebrations. Every year in July more than 4.5 million people visit the city's Largest Fair on the Rhine.
As the seventh most populous city in Germany by population within city limits and a Larger Urban Zone population of 1.5 million, Mercer's 2012 Quality of Living survey ranked Düsseldorf sixth city in the world.
When the Roman Empire was strengthening its position throughout Europe, a few Germanic tribes clung in marshy territory off the eastern banks of the Rhine River.
In the 7th and 8th centuries, the odd farming or fishing settlement could be found at the point where the small river Düssel flows into the Rhine. It was from such settlements that the city of Düsseldorf grew.
The first written mention of Düsseldorf (then called Dusseldorp in the local Low Rhenish dialect) dates back to 1135. Under Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa the small town of Kaiserswerth to the north of Düsseldorf became a well-fortified outpost, where soldiers kept a watchful eye on every movement on the Rhine. Kaiserswerth eventually became a suburb of Düsseldorf in 1929.
In 1186, Düsseldorf came under the rule of the Counts of Berg. 14 August 1288 is one of the most important dates in the history of Düsseldorf. On this day the sovereign Count Adolf VIII of Berg granted the village on the banks of the Düssel town privileges. Before this, a bloody struggle for power had taken place between the Archbishop of Cologne and the count of Berg, culminating in the Battle of Worringen.
The Archbishop of Cologne's forces were wiped out by the forces of the count of Berg who were supported by citizens and farmers of Cologne and Düsseldorf, paving the way for Düsseldorf's elevation to city status, which is commemorated today by a monument on the Burgplatz. The custom of turning cartwheels is credited to the children of Düsseldorf. There are variations of the origin of the cartwheeling children. Today the symbol (Der Radschläger) represents the story and every year the Düsseldorfers celebrate by having a cartwheeling contest. After this battle the relationship between the four cities deteriorated, because they were commercial rivals. It is often said that there is a kind of hostility between the citizens of Cologne and Düsseldorf. Today, it finds its expression mainly in a humorous form (especially during the Rhineland Karneval) and in sports.
A market square sprang up on the banks of the Rhine and the square was protected by city walls on all four sides. In 1380, the dukes of Berg moved their seat to the town and Düsseldorf was made regional capital of the Duchy of Berg. During the following centuries several famous landmarks were built, including the Collegiate Church of St Lambertus. In 1609, the ducal line of the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg died out, and after a virulent struggle over succession, Jülich and Berg fell to the Wittelsbach Counts of Palatinate-Neuburg, who made Düsseldorf their main domicile, even after they inherited the Electorate of the Palatinate, in 1685, becoming now Prince-electors as Electors Palatine.
Under the art loving Johann Wilhelm II (r. 1690–1716), a vast art gallery with a huge selection of paintings and sculptures, were housed in the Stadtschloss (city castle). After his death, the city fell on hard times again, especially after Elector Charles Theodore inherited Bavaria and moved the electoral court to Munich. With him he took the art collection, which became part of what is now the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. Destruction and poverty struck Düsseldorf after the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon made Berg a Grand Duchy and Düsseldorf its capital. Johann Devaranne, a leader of Solingen's resistance to Napoleon's conscription decrees, was executed here in 1813. After Napoleon's defeat, the whole Rhineland including Berg was given to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815. The Rhine Province's parliament was established in Düsseldorf.[when?] By the mid-19th century, Düsseldorf enjoyed a revival thanks to the Industrial Revolution as the city boasted 100,000 inhabitants by 1882; the figure doubled in 1892. In 1920, Düsseldorf became the centre of the General Strike. On 15 April 1920, 45 delegates of the German Miners Union were murdered by the Freikorps.
The city was a target of strategic bombing during World War II, particularly during the RAF bombing campaign in 1943 when over 700 bombers were used in a single night. Raids continued late into the war. As part of the campaign against German oil facilities, the RAF raid of 20–21 February on the Rhenania Ossag refinery in the Reisholz district of the city halted oil production there. The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Düsseldorf in mid-April 1945. The United States 97th Infantry Division easily captured the city on 18 April 1945.
In 1946, Düsseldorf was made capital of the new federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The city's reconstruction proceeded at a frantic pace and the economic transformation guided Düsseldorf's economic growth.
Düsseldorf lies at the centre of the Lower Rhine basin, where the delta of the River Düssel flows into the Rhine. The city lies on the east side of the Rhine, except District 4 (Oberkassel, Niederkassel, Heerdt and Lörick). Across the Rhine, the city of Neuss stands on the delta of the Erft river. Düsseldorf lies southwest of the Ruhr urban area, and in the middle of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.
Düsseldorf is built entirely on alluvium, mud, sand, clay and occasionally gravel. The highest point in Düsseldorf is the top of Sandberg in the far eastern part of the city (Hubbelrath borough) at 165 metres (541 ft). The lowest point is at the far northern end in Wittlaer borough where the Schwarzbach enters the Rhine, with an average elevation of 28 metres (92 ft).
Adjacent cities and districts
The following districts and cities border Düsseldorf (clockwise starting from the north): the City of Duisburg, the District of Mettmann (Ratingen, Mettmann, Erkrath, Hilden, Langenfeld, and Monheim), and the District of Neuss (Dormagen, Neuss, and Meerbusch).
Düsseldorf International Airport, also referred to as Rhein-Ruhr Airport, is located eight kilometres (5.0 miles) from the city centre and can easily be reached by train or the S-Bahn urban railway. There is a long-distance train station served by regional and national services, which is linked to the airport by the SkyTrain, an automatic people mover. Another station situated under the terminal building carries the S-Bahn line (S11) to Düsseldorf Central Station, and to Cologne as well as a few selected night services.
After Frankfurt and Munich, Düsseldorf International is Germany's third largest commercial airport, with 18.6 million passengers annually. The airport offers 180 destinations on 4 continents, and is served by 70 airlines. The airport buildings were partly destroyed by a devastating fire caused by welding works in 1996, killing 17 people. It was completely rebuilt and the Skytrain installed.
The city is a major hub in the Deutsche Bahn (DB) railway network. More than 1,000 trains stop in Düsseldorf daily. Düsseldorf Central Station at Konrad-Adenauer-Platz is located in Düsseldorf-Stadtmitte. Several Rhein-Ruhr S-Bahn lines connect Düsseldorf to other cities of Rhine-Ruhr. Local Düsseldorf Straßenbahn and light rail Düsseldorf Stadtbahn traffic, as well as local bus traffic, is carried out by the city-owned Rheinbahn which operates within the VRR public transport system. The light rail system also serves neighbouring cities and is partially operated underground.
The Central Station and the Airport Station (Flughafen-Bahnhof) are connected to the national and European high-speed systems (Intercity/Eurocity, IC/EC and InterCityExpress).
North Rhine-Westphalia has the densest network of autobahns in Germany and Düsseldorf is directly accessible via the A3, A44, A46, A52, A57, A59 and A524.
Culture and recreation
Elector Jan Wellem and his wife Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici of Tuscany, were patrons of Düsseldorf's first significant cultural activities in the 17th and 18th centuries. Heinrich Heine, whose 200th birthday was celebrated in 1997 and who originally had a proposed memorial in the city dedicated to him; Clara and Robert Schumann; and as Felix Mendelssohn, are the most prominent artists related to the city, which is home to a distinguished Academy of Fine Arts.
The Düsseldorf cultural scene comprises traditional and avant-garde, classical and glamorous. The world famous state art collection of North Rhine-Westphalia, the highly acclaimed Deutsche Oper am Rhein (opera), and the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (theatre), artistic home of Gustaf Gründgens, are major elements of Düsseldorf's reputation as a centre of the fine arts.
Düsseldorf is well known for its Altbier, a hoppy beer which translates as old [style] beer, a reference to the pre-lager brewing method of using a warm top-fermenting yeast like British pale ales. Over time the Alt yeast adjusted to lower temperatures, and the Alt brewers would store or lager the beer after fermentation, leading to a cleaner, crisper beer. The name "altbier" first appeared in the 19th century to differentiate the beers of Düsseldorf from the new pale lager that was gaining a hold on Germany.
Brewers in Düsseldorf used the pale malts that were used for the modern pale lagers, but retained the old ("alt") method of using warm fermenting yeasts. The first brewery to use the name Alt was Schumacher which opened in 1838. The founder, Mathias Schumacher, allowed the beer to mature in cool conditions in wooden casks for longer than normal, and laid the foundation for the modern alt – amber coloured and lagered. The result is a pale beer that has some of the lean dryness of a lager but with fruity notes as well.
At present, there are five pub-microbreweries in Düsseldorf which brew Altbier on the premises: Füchschen, Schumacher, Schlüssel, Uerige and the newly opened Brauerei Kürzer. Four of the five are located in the historic centre of Düsseldorf (Altstadt); the other (Schumacher) is located between the Altstadt and Düsseldorf Central railway station (Hauptbahnhof), and also maintains an establishment in the Altstadt, Goldener Kessel, directly across the street from Schlüssel.
Each (except Brauerei Kürzer) produces a special, secret, seasonal "Sticke" version in small quantities, though the names vary: Schlüssel spells it "Stike", without the "c", while Schumacher calls its special beer "Latzenbier", meaning "slat beer", possibly because the kegs from which it was poured had been stored on raised shelves. Füchschen's seasonal is its Weihnachtsbier (Christmas beer), available in bottles starting mid-November, and served in the brewpub on Christmas Eve.
Music and nightlife
Since the 1950s the "Kom(m)ödchen" has been one of the most prominent political cabarets of Germany. The city's most famous contribution to the culture of modern popular music is beyond doubt the avant-garde electronic music band Kraftwerk. Formed by a few Düsseldorf-born musicians, Kraftwerk are internationally known as the most significant band in the history of post-war German music and as pioneers in electronic music.
Internationally known power metal band Warlock was formed in Düsseldorf in 1982. Their frontwoman, Doro Pesch, has had a successful solo career in Europe and Asia since Warlock ended. The punk band Die Toten Hosen, which is famous around the world, also the most popular singers in Germany Westernhagen and Heino come from Düsseldorf. The electronic act D.A.F. was formed in the city in 1978, as well as the electronic/industrial pioneers Die Krupps in 1980. The experimental post-punk group La Düsseldorf was named after the city, for which it paid with a legal case in the early 1980s.
Düsseldorf, Germany is mentioned in the American rock song "Brutus the Butcher" by Majungas.
One of the biggest cultural events in Düsseldorf is the Karneval (also referred to as the "fifth season") which starts every year on 11 November at 11:11 a.m., and reaches its climax on Rosenmontag (Rose Monday), featuring a huge parade through the streets of Düsseldorf. Karneval ends on Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday).
Cartwheeler of Düsseldorf
The Düsseldorfer Radschläger (Boy who does Cartwheels) is said to be the city's oldest tradition. The symbol of the cartwheeler can be found on many souvenirs and various things in Düsseldorf have the cartwheelers to thank for their names. This tradition was honoured in 1954 by the erection of a fountain, called Cartwheeler's Fountain, on the Burgplatz in Düsseldorf.
Legends of its origin and history
The tradition cannot be linked to one specific historical event, instead, there are several stories surrounding the beginnings of the Düsseldorf Cartwheelers. Probably the most well known version is Battle of Worringen. In the battle of 1288 Count Adolf devastatingly defeated the Archbishop of Cologne. As a consequence of this victory, Düsseldorf obtained Town privileges. The inhabitants, especially the children ran joyfully on the streets and performed cartwheels.
Another story talks about a wedding procession during which one of the wheels of the wedding carriage broke. In order to fend off the threat of bad luck, a boy supposedly jumped to the carriage, took hold of the wheel and thus became a living part of the wheel. Whether the story is about the marriage of Jan Wellem and Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici or the wedding of Margravine Jakobea of Baden and Johann Wilhelm is debatable.
Another story gives an account of this wedding between Margrave Jacobe von Baden and Johann Wilhelm, in 1585. According to legend she felt miserable about her marriage, but the cartwheelers who displayed their skills next to her carriage were able to make her smile. Numerous travelers were attracted to the city by great exhibitions- the forerunner of today’s fairs between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. During this time the children who did the cart wheeling found out that it was a profitable source of income. The bourgeoisie accepted this in good humor as a symbolic act of local patriotism. In the beginning the lads shouted "för eene Penning schlage ich das Rad“ (cartwheel for a penny). The Jan Wellem monument returned to Düsseldorf at the end of the Second World War. The procession was accompanied by torches, fanfares and the cartwheeling boys.
Cartwheelers in the cityscape
Cartwheelers can be found by several fountains within the city. The most famous is Cartwheeler’s Fountain in Burgplatz with an inscription of a quote by Hans Müller-Schlösser: "Radschläger wolle mer blieve, wie jeck et de Minschen och drieve“ (We will always remain cartwheelers, however crazy it drives people.) The fountain was designed by Alfred Zschorsch in 1954 and donated by the Heimatverein Düsseldorfer Jonges, which is a club devoted to the maintenance of local and regional traditions. There are other cartwheelers that decorate storm drains and the door knocker on the Church of Lambertus, which was designed by Friedrich Becker. He created the cartwheeler in front of the Schadow Arcades.
This tradition has been kept alive by the Alde Düsseldorfer Bürgergesellschaft von 1920 e. V., a society founded in 1920, who organized the first cartwheeler competition on 17 October 1937. Since 1971 this event has been held annually in cooperation with the Stadtsparkasse (a local bank) but formerly took place in the Königsallee. Since 2006 it has taken place on the Rheinwerft, near the old part of town. This is a fixed date in the city’s calendar of events. About 500 boys regularly participate in this event and since 1971 girls have also taken part. In 2001 the art project Radschläger-Kunst (Cartwheeler Art) was called into life, in which over 100 cartwheeler sculptures have been designed by various artists. The door knocker on the Church of Lambertus functioned as a model for the sculptures that are 2 metres (6 feet 7 inches) high, 2 metres (6 feet 7 inches) wide and 30 cm (12 in) deep. They were positioned around the city center. Some of the sculptures have been auctioned off to companies and private owners.
Traditional meals in the region are Rheinischer Sauerbraten (a beef roast and sometimes horse marinated for a few days in vinegar and spices served with gravy and raisins) and Heaven and Earth (Himmel und Äd; black pudding with stewed apples mixed with mashed potatoes). In winter the people like to eat Muscheln Rheinischer Art (Rhenish-style mussels) as well as Reibekuchen (fried potato pancake served with apple sauce). Also a special meal: Düsseldorfer Senfrostbraten (Steaks roasted with Düsseldorf mustard on top).
Düsseldorf is known for its strong Dijon-like mustard served in a traditional pot called "Mostertpöttche", which was eternalised in a still life by Vincent van Gogh in 1884.
Rivalry with Cologne
Düsseldorf and Cologne have a "fierce regional rivalry". The rivalry includes carnival parades, football, ice hockey and beer. People in Cologne prefer Kölsch while people in Düsseldorf prefer Alt. Waiters and patrons will "scorn" and make a "mockery" of people who order Alt beer in Cologne and Kölsch in Düsseldorf. The rivalry has been described as a "love-hate relationship".
- Apollo (varieté, circus; shows do not require knowledge of German language)
- Capitol (musicals)
- Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Opera; Ballet)
- Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus; the theatre started with theatrical performances in 1585
- Düsseldorfer Marionetten-Theater
- ESPRIT Arena (Venue of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011)
- FFT – Forum Freies Theater (intimate theatre)
- Klangraum (20th-century classical music)
- Kom(m)ödchen (Political cabaret)
- Komödie Düsseldorf
- Palais Wittgenstein
- Puppentheater an der Helmholtzstraße (puppetry)
- Tanzhaus NRW (theatre for dance)
- Tonhalle Düsseldorf (concert hall for classical music, jazz, pop, cabaret)
- Theater an der Kö
- Theater an der Luegallee
- Theateratelier Takelgarn
- Theater Flin
- Theater Glorreich
Museums, arts and history institutes, and other attractions
- Akademie-Galerie (exhibition space of the Art Academy Düsseldorf)
- Aquazoo-Löbbecke-Museum (aquarium and zoological museum)
- BRAUSE – Vereinsheim des Metzgerei Schnitzel Kunstvereins e.V.
- Film museum
- Filmstiftung NRW (NRW Film Foundation)
- Forum NRW
- Heinrich Heine Birth-house
- Hetjens Museum (German museum of ceramics)
- Imai – inter media art institute
- Institut Français Düsseldorf
- Institut für Kunstdokumentation und Szenografie (Institute for Art Documentation and Scenography)
- Julia Stoschek Collection (video art)
- KAI 10|Raum für Kunst
- Kulturbahnhof Eller
- Kunstarchiv Kaiserswerth (works of Bernd and Hilla Becher/Kahmen Collection)
- Kunst im Tunnel (KIT)
- Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Art Collection Northrhine-Westphalia) – K20 (Grabbeplatz) and K21 (Ständehaus)
- Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
- Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen (Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts)
- Museum Kunst Palast
- Mahn- und Gedenkstätte für die Opfer des Nationalsozialmus (Memorial museum for victims of Nationalsocialism)
- Polnisches Institut Düsseldorf
- Puppentheater an der Helmholtzstraße
- Reinraum e.V. – Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur
- Rheinturm (Rhine Tower; highest building and landmark of Düsseldorf)
- St. Lambertuskirche
- Schiffahrt Museum
- Schloss Jagerhof
- Schloss und Park Benrath (Palace and park of Benrath)
- Stadtmuseum (City history museum)
- Statue of Jan Wellem
- Theatermuseum, Düsseldorf
- Triton Museum
- Zakk – cultural centre with concerts, readings, debates and party
Parks and gardens
- Botanischer Garten Düsseldorf, a modern botanical garden
- The Nordpark, with the Aquazoo
- The Südfriedhof (The South Cemetery)
- Rheinturm (TV tower) the city's landmark (1982: 234 m [ 768 ft ], since 2004: 240.50 m [ 789.0 ft ]), the lights on which comprise the world's largest digital clock.
- The Gehry buildings in the Düsseldorf media harbour (see picture above).
- The Colorium, an 18 storey tower designed by Alsop and Partners, also in the Düsseldorf media harbour.
- The Benrather Schloss (Benrath palace).
- The Grupello-Haus probably designed by the Italian architect Matteo Alberti in 1706 for Duke Johann Wilhelm.
- The Wilhem Marx House of 1922/24: at twelve storeys high, it was Germany's first high-rise building.
- The Stahlhof of 1906, the administrative centre of Germany's steel economy until 1945.
- The Stummhaus of 1925, another early German high-rise building.
- Gerresheim Basilica.
- St Suitbertus Basilica.
- DRV Tower, 120 m (394 ft)-high tower constructed in 1978.
- GAP 15, an 85 m (279 ft)-high building constructed in 2005 near Königsallee.
- ARAG-Tower, at 131 m (430 ft) in height, it is Düsseldorf's highest office building; designed by Sir Norman Foster.
- Eight bridges span the River Rhine at Düsseldorf; they, too, are city landmarks.
- Eastern pylon of Reisholz Rhine Powerline Crossing, an electricity pylon under whose legs runs a rail
- Kö (Königsallee), a shopping street with luxuries shops
- Schloss Benrath, rococo castle
- Altstadt (Düsseldorf), literally "old town", the historic town centre. Nowadays Düsseldorf's entertainment district with hundreds of pubs and restaurants, and proverbially known by Germans as "the longest bar in the world".
- Düsseldorf-Hafen, the harbour is a modern build district
- Kaiserswerth, historical district with the ruined castle of Barbarossa Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
- Hofgarten, old city park
Twin towns – sister cities
Düsseldorf is twinned with:
- Chemnitz, Germany
- Chongqing, China
- Haifa, Israel
- Moscow, Russia
- Reading, UK, since 1947, officially since 1988
- Warsaw, Poland, since 1989
In addition, Düsseldorf has friendship relations with:
- Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- Chiba, Japan
- Guangzhou, China
- Lillehammer, Norway
- Mbombela, South Africa
- Palermo, Italy
- Shenyang, China
- Toulouse, France