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Cities in germany - Düsseldorf

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.

Vital statistics

  • Name: Düsseldorf
  • Country: Germany
  • State: North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen)
  • Population: 571,933 (conurbation 2,976,786)
  • Time zone: UTC +1h, UTC +2 (DST)
  • Location: 51°13'32"N 06°46'58"E
  • Elevation: 38 m above sea level
  • Area: 216.99 km² (conurbation 2404 km²)

The Rhine-Ruhr area with its state capital Düsseldorf is the biggest agglomeration in Germany, ahead of the Frankfurt-Rhine-Main region, Berlin and Stuttgart.

The Düsseldorf-Rhine-Ruhr area covers a similar area as the international metropolitan cities of Chicago, Paris and London, the population of 11.1 million reflects these dimensions. In comparison to that, the other metropolitan areas have populations of 8.0 million in Chicago, 12.3 million in London and 12.3 million in Paris.

Düsseldorf-Rhine-Ruhr in figures:

  • Home to a population in excess of 11.1 million
  • The base for 312,000 companies
  • Offers employment to more than 3.7 million people
  • Provides 45 universities and technical colleges with more than 300,000 students


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.


Düsseldorf is not only widely known as a stronghold of the German advertising industry, during the last years the metropolis at the Rhine has become the top telecommunications center of Germany. Today there are 18 net-providers in the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. With two of the four big German suppliers of mobile frequencies, D2 Vodafone and E-Plus, Düsseldorf is champion of the German mobile phone market. This pioneer position demonstrates the presence of the multiple foreign trading centres such as NTT, Ericsson, Nokia or GTS.

Together with the strong advertising branch, these companies serve as an important motor for the new economy. 400 advertising agencies are located in Düsseldorf, amongst them three of the biggest in Germany: the BBDO Group, the Publicis Group and the Grey Group. Multiple dependencies of foreign agencies have to be named as well, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Dentsu, Hakuhodu and DDB. Thus, it is no wonder that so many internet agencies in Düsseldorf have their roots in the classical world of advertising.

The city of Düsseldorf also has an important impact on the world of finance: around 170 national and international credit institutes and 130 insurance agencies have settled here. Furthermore one of the biggest German stock exchanges is located here. The print media, represented in Düsseldorf by around 200 publishing houses, have adapted to the high interest in fields of economy - online and offline. Internationally famous titles such as Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche, Deutsches Wirtschaftsblatt, VDI nachrichten or DM are published in the metropolis on the Rhine. Almost all of these titles are already very successful in the Internet. Furthermore Genios, the daughter of the publishing group Handelsblatt runs Germany's biggest online- economic database from here. Renown film suppliers, such as Germany's biggest cinema enterprise the Riech-Group and TV-channels such as CNN, NBC Giga and QVC have made Düsseldorf to a domain of moving images.

Last but not least, Düsseldorf offers attractive locations for the new economy, for example along the well known Königsallee. Or in the new media harbour: whereas once old warehouses have characterised the image along the Rhine, today post-modern architecture is presented in front of historic scenery. The creative ambience that famous architects such as Gehry have created, has developed into a magnet for internet agencies, advertisement agencies and designers. Similarly, the short distances contribute to the attraction of the media harbour: it is often just a little step to successful networking. A whole range of exhibitions about the internet such as the Online Marketing-Exhibition, the Internet Commerce Expo, the digiMedia or the Venture-Capital-Congress are further evidence for the conglomeration of the new media branch in Düsseldorf.


Düsseldorf International Airport is located eight kilometres from the city. The Rhein-Ruhr airport, one of Germany's three biggest commercial airports, is just 12 minutes from the city centre with the S-Bahn urban railway system.

After Frankfurt and Munich, Düsseldorf International is Germany's third biggest commercial airport in 2000, with about 16 million passengers. Three of four passengers in North Rhine-Westphalia use the flight connections to the 180 destinations in total which the airport offers. Over 180,000 take-offs and landings take place in Düsseldorf annually, and over 100,000 tonnes of freight is handled.

The Deutsche Bahn train is another common way of getting to Düsseldorf. More than 1,000 trains stop in Düsseldorf every day. The central railway station at Konrad-Adenauer-Platz is located in Düsseldorf's city center.

North Rhine-Westphalia has a closely-woven autobahn network where almost all routes lead to Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf is directly connected to the A3, A44, A46, A52, A57 and A59 autobahns.


The art-loving Elector Jan Wellem and his wife Anna Maria Luisa of Tuscany from the house of Medici, were the founders of Düsseldorf´s first cultural in the 17th and 18th century. Heinrich Heine, whose 200th birthday was celebrated in 1997, Clara and Robert Schumann as well as Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy consolidate Düsseldorf´s claim to fame in the cultural world. Artistic impulses often originated from the Academy for Art in Düsseldorf and names such as Paul Klee and Joseph Beuys are associated with it. After the Second World War the Rhinish city blossomed into an international trade and exhibition city. Nowadays, commerce and culture both shape the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Düsseldorf cultural scene encompasses traditional and avant-garde, classical and glamorous. The world-famous art collection NRW, the highly acclaimed Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, the artistic home of Gustaf Gründgens are major cornerstones in Düsseldorf´s reputation as a cultural city. Other highlights are e.g. the Musical theatre, the Löbbecke Museum/Aqua-Zoo and Benrath Castle. Thousands stream into historic Düsseldorf Old Town for the Rhinish carnival and the largest funfair on the Rhine, but also to experience the charm and gusto of the people here. The exclusive Königsallee and the splendid Rheinpromenade are the perfect setting for a stroll.

Düsseldorf is also home to the Kling Klang studio, which is the base of the avant-garde band Kraftwerk.