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Dusseldorf travel guide — Dusseldorf tourism and travel information

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about Dusseldorf

Düsseldorf is the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany.

Combining the legendary good cheer of the Rhineland with the cosmopolitan charm of an international exhibition city, Düsseldorf offers the visitor a wealth of memorable sights and experiences. The German Opera House, countless museums and theatres and numerous other attractions all attest to the city's standing as a major arts centre. Düsseldorf is also a paradise for shoppers - the Königsallee with its classy shops and pavement cafés is now firmly established as the unofficial public catwalk for the latest fashion trends.

Dusseldorf history

At a time when the Roman Empire was strengthening its position throughout Europe, a few Germanic tribes clung on to their marshy territory on the other side 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 the town Düsseldorf dates back to 1135 (then called Düsseldorp). It is written that under Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa the little town of Kaiserswerth, lying to the north of Düsseldorf, became a well fortified outpost, where soldiers keep a watchful eye over every movement on the Rhine. (Kaiserswerth became an official district of Düsseldorf in 1929.)

In 1186 Düsseldorf came under the rule of Berg. The counts of Berg moved their seat to the town in 1280.

August 14, 1288 is one of the most important dates in the history of Düsseldorf as it was on this day that the sovereign, Count Adolf V of Berg granted the village on the banks of the Düssel the right to call itself a city.

Prior to that announcement, a bloody power struggle 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, paving the way for Düsseldorf's elevation to city status, which is remembered today with a monument on the Burgplatz.

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, Düsseldorf was named 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 Jülich-Berg-Cleves died out, and after a succession struggle, Jülich and Berg fell under the rule of the Counts Palatine of Neuburg, who made their main seat in Düsseldorf, even after they inherited the Palatinate, in 1685, becoming now Prince-electors as Electors Palatine

Düsseldorf's growth was even more impressive under the leadership of Johann Wilhelm II (r.1690-1716) in the 18th century, also known to his people as Jan Wellem. Heavily influenced by his wife Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, the art lover designed a vast art gallery with a mammoth selection of paintings and sculptures that are currently housed in the Stadtschloss.

After the death of the childless Jan Wellem, the flourishing royal capital fell on hard times, especially Elector Karl Theodor inherited Bavaria and moved the electoral court to Munich. And destruction and poverty struck Düsseldorf after the Napoleonic Wars.

By the mid-19th Century, Düsseldorf enjoyed a revival thanks to the Industrial Revolution as the city boasted 100,000 inhabitants by 1882 before the figure doubled in 1892.

However, the First and Second World Wars soon plunged Düsseldorf into depression. During World War II, the city was virtually reduced to a pile of rubble as round-the-clock air attacks took their toll.

The Jewish community was decimated through deportation and murder as only 249 survived out of the pre-War population of 5,100. The Mahn-und Gedenkstätte für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Memorial to the Victims of National Socialism) provides a horrific account of the darkest chapter in Düsseldorf's history.

Somewhere in Düsseldorf was the location of the subcamp of the concentration camp in Buchenwald, where Polish prisoners were imprisoned.

The British occupation of the Rhineland and Westphalia turned out well for Düsseldorf as in 1946 it was made the capital of the Nordrhein-Westphalia region.

The city's construction proceeded at frightening pace and the economic transformation saw Düsseldorf turned into a metropolis of trade, administration and service industries that we know today.

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