Düsseldorf is known for its academy of fine arts, its pioneering influence on electronic/experimental music and its Japanese community. On the river Rhine, Düsseldorf holds Rhenish Carnival celebrations every year in February / March. It is one of the central cities of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area. Mercer's 2012 Quality of Living survey ranked Düsseldorf the sixth most livable city in the world.
When the Roman Empire was strengthening its position throughout Europe, a few Germanic tribes clung on in marshy territory off the eastern banks of the Rhine.
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. 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, after the local German Resistance group launched Aktion Rheinland.
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 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. 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).
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).
Like the rest of the lower Rhineland, Düsseldorf experiences moderate winters with little snowfall and mild to warm summers. The average annual temperature is 10.6 °C (51 °F) with an average yearly precipitation of 797 millimetres (31 in). The dominant wind direction is from the west with velocities in the range of 3 to 4 m/s (7–9 mph), with gusts of 3.5 −4.8 m/s (8–10.7 mph). The wind is calm (defined as being under 2 m/s or 4.5 mph) about 35% of the time, more frequently at night and in the winter.
With a population of 612,178 within the city boundaries (31 December 2015), Düsseldorf is Germany's seventh largest city. Its population surpassed the threshold of 100,000 inhabitants during the height of industrialisation in 1882, and peaked at just over 705,000 in 1962. The city then began to lose residents with many moving into neighbouring municipalities. However, since the late 1990s, the city's population has been slowly rising again.
A total of 109,883 of Düsseldorf's population are foreigners (31 December 2008), the majority of whom come from within Europe (81,742). The largest national minorities are Turks, Greeks, and Poles. Düsseldorf and its surroundings have the third-largest Japanese community in Europe and the largest in Germany (about 11,000 people). Düsseldorf has the third-largest Jewish community in Germany, with about 7,600 members.
Since 1975, Düsseldorf is divided into ten administrative districts. Each district (Bezirk) has its own elected district council (Bezirksvertretung) and its own district mayor (Bezirksvorsteher). The district councils are advisory only. Each district is further subdivided into boroughs. There are 50 boroughs in Düsseldorf.
Düsseldorf has become one of the top telecommunications centres in Germany. With two of the four big German providers of mobile frequencies, D2 Vodafone and E-Plus, Düsseldorf leads the German mobile phone market. There are many foreign information and communication technology companies in Düsseldorf such as Huawei, NTT, Ericsson, Nokia, and GTS.. There are 18 internet service providers located in the capital of North-Rhine Westphalia. There are two airlines with headquarters in the city: Eurowings and formerly independent LTU International.
Many of the internet companies in Düsseldorf have their roots in the world of advertising: there are 400 advertising agencies in Düsseldorf, among them three of the largest in Germany: BBDO Group and Publicis. A number of affiliates of foreign agencies deserve mention as well, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Dentsu, Hakuhodo, and DDB. There are also about 200 publishing houses in Düsseldorf. There are around 170 national and international financial institutions, and about 130 insurance agencies, and one of Germany's eight stock exchanges. Several other major companies have their headquarters in the city: Peek & Cloppenburg (fashion), L'Oréal Germany (Cosmetics and Beauty); Henkel AG & Co. KGaA (Branded Consumer Goods and Industrial technologies); Metro (wholesale, retail); Ergo (insurance), Esprit Holdings (fashion, headquarters in Ratingen near Düsseldorf), BASF Personal Care & Nutrition (formerly Cognis - chemicals, headquarter in Monheim near Düsseldorf, but production mainly in Düsseldorf).
Daimler AG builds the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter light commercial vehicles in Düsseldorf. Since the 1960s, there has been a strong relationship between the city and Japan. Many Japanese banks and corporations have their European headquarters in Düsseldorf – so many that Düsseldorf has the third largest Japanese community in Europe, after London and Paris.
The "Kö", which stands for Königsallee ("King's Avenue"), is a popular shopping destination. Some of the most reputed jewellery shops, designer labels, and galleries have their stores here. The Kö has among the highest rents for retail and office space in Germany.
Important newspapers and journals such as Handelsblatt, Rheinische Post, Wirtschaftswoche, Deutsches Wirtschaftsblatt and VDI-Nachrichten are published in Düsseldorf. Almost all of these papers are available online on the Internet. Renowned filmmaking companies, such as Germany's biggest cinema enterprise, the Riech-Group, and TV channels such as WDR and QVC are located in Düsseldorf. The foundation Film- und Medienstiftung NRW is supporting the production of film and new media.
In regards to movies and movie theatres in Düsseldorf, movie goers have the option to choose between multiple different languages at the theatre. Many mainstream movies are shown in English, Spanish, French, and German.
Düsseldorf 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 21,850,489 passengers annually (2014). 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).
In Düsseldorf there are 1320 officially licensed Taxis. According to the regulations, the cars are always in ivory colour. On the back window you always find a black number on a yellow patch. Credit card payment has to be accepted at the Taxi stands at Airport of Düsseldorf. The supply of taxis in Düsseldorf is over the German average. Two taxi organisations cover the market. "Taxi-Düsseldorf" offers more than 1180 cabs in different sizes for max. 8 Passengers. The smaller one is "Rhein-Taxi" with more than 120 cabs. It is obligatory to carry out any journeys to destinations in the city and directly neighbouring cities.
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.
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.
There are five pub-breweries in Düsseldorf which brew Altbier on the premises: Füchschen, Schumacher, Schlüssel, Uerige and Brauerei Kürzer. Four of the five are in the historic centre of Düsseldorf (Altstadt); the other (Schumacher), between the Altstadt and Düsseldorf Central railway station (Hauptbahnhof), also maintains an establishment in the Altstadt, Im Goldenen Kessel, 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.
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. Another famous formation is Fehlfarben. Founded in the late 1970s by Peter Hein, Frank Fenstermacher, Kurt Dahlke and Michael Kemner.
Düsseldorf appears is several songs, including Düsseldorf by the British indie band Teleman and Wärst du doch in Düsseldorf geblieben by Danish singer Dorthe Kollo.
Düsseldorf, Germany is the fashion capital of Germany as it is a major cultural center for the art and fashion scenes. The fashionable clothes trend took root in this city before 1949. 1949 is the date of the first fashion show staged in Düsseldorf. Fashion trends have occurred as access to more elegant clothing for the general public has been a part of the culture for almost a century. Two times a year an event called the, “Voices of Fashion,” occurs and attracts many people to visit Düsseldorf to find the latest fashion items. There are famous designers that have made a name for themselves in Düsseldorf as well. Designers Sabine Schumacher, Peter O. Mahler, and Renate Harvan all design in Düsseldorf. To keep the creativity and passion for fashion alive in Düsseldorf everyday there are schools dedicated to fashion design in Düsseldorf as well. Akademie Mode and Design Institution, Design Department Academy, and Mode Design College are the three prominent fashion schools residing in Düsseldorf.
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).
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.
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 humour 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 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 centre. Some of the sculptures have been auctioned off to companies and private owners.
Every Christmas, the city of Düsseldorf uses the city centre to host one of the largest Christmas gatherings in Germany. The Christmas festival occurs every year from 17 November until 23 December. This Christmas fest brings Düsseldorf a large portion of tourism every year as many people from nearby areas come to the city to drink mulled wine and hot chocolate and watch craftsman blow glass and create art. The event contains many small wooden buildings all clustered in the middle of the city for all the citizens to enjoy. The event, to many visitors, has an old European feel, but is very lively.
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.
The Rhine Metropolis is one of the most diverse areas in terms of culinary diversity. Düsseldorf, with the third largest Japanese community in Europe, not only provides a wide range of culinary cuisine but also has a solid foundation of Authentic Asian food in the city. Düsseldorf’s exceptional culinary cuisine has been recognized and visited by the Worldwide leading travel guide of Lonely Planet. Along with a broad range of diverse cultural cuisine, Düsseldorf is also home to various Michelin starred restaurants that are world renowned.
Alve Hahn - this dish is made from a half a double rye roll, which is another of the specialties of Düsseldorf, buttered, with a thick slice of aged Gouda cheese, onions, mustard, ground paprika and sour pickles.
Himmel un Aad - a dish of mashed potatoes and apples along with slices of blutwurst. Caramelized onions are usually served with this meal.
Reibekuchen is another famous dish from Düsseldorf; this dish is usually drizzled with Rübensyrup (beet syrup) and is served on pumpernickel slices along with applesauce
The Förderpreis für Literatur der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf is a German Literary award donated by the City of Düsseldorf in Northrhine-Westphalia. The Prize for Literature in support of the City of Düsseldorf is awarded since 1972 by the Council of the City due to the decisions of the courts.
The Förderpreis für Literatur der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf is given once a year to artists and groups, especially to the areas of poetry, writing, review and translation.
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".
Düsseldorf's football team Fortuna Düsseldorf won the 1933 German championship, the German Cup in 1979 and 1980, and were finalists in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1979. After 15 years in lower leagues they were promoted following a play-off win over Hertha Berlin in 2012. As of 2014, they are back in the second division of German soccer. Their new stadium, the Esprit arena, opened in January 2005 and has a capacity of 54,500. Düsseldorf was one of nine host cities for the 1974 FIFA World Cup, and the Rochusclub Düsseldorf has hosted the tennis World Team Cup from 1978 till 2012. Düsseldorf also held the Grand Départ for the Tour de France in July 2017.
Other sports in Düsseldorf are ice hockey (the Düsseldorfer EG which play in the new ISS-Dome) and American football. The Düsseldorf Panther are one of the most successful teams in Germany with six German Bowl titles and the Eurobowl victory in 1995. In addition the Junior-Team is the most successful youth department in Germany with fifteen Junior Bowl victories. Rhine Fire Düsseldorf was an established team of the NFL Europe and won the World Bowl two times in 1998 and 2000. Düsseldorf has a successful rugby union team (Düsseldorf Dragons), who play in the regional NRW league and consistently finish with a top-three position.
Table tennis is also played (Borussia Düsseldorf – the most successful team in Germany with Timo Boll), as are handball (HSG Düsseldorf), basketball (Düsseldorf Giants), baseball (Düsseldorf Senators) and dancing (Rot-Weiß Düsseldorf). Düsseldorf also has a Cricket team, the Düsseldorf Blackcaps, who play in the regional NRW league.
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf is located in the southern part of the city. It has about 20,000 students and a wide range of subjects in natural sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, philosophy, social sciences, arts, languages, medicine, pharmacy, economy and the law.
Other academic institutions include
International primary and secondary schools:
Düsseldorf is twinned with:
In addition, Düsseldorf has friendship relations with: