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About Dusseldorf

Lying 40 km (25 miles) to the north of Cologne, not far from the industrial Ruhr, the city of Düsseldorf (pop.£576,000) is the capital of Germany's most populated federal state of North Rhine Westphalia. It sits conveniently at the centre of a network of good communications, served by motorways and at the junction of important north-south and east-west rail routes. Its airport is number two after Frankfurt-am-Main in numbers of charter flights.

The city lies on the right bank of the Rhine - in contrast to the Rhineland cities of Roman origin - and is connected by five bridges with the other bank and its considerably older neighbour, Neuss. The city rose to importance from being a Dorf (village) on the river Düssel (a tributary of the Rhine) because of its elevation to the seat of the local Dukes of Berg back in the 14th century. Although it was never as important as Cologne, Düsseldorf's royal patronage nevertheless resulted in it becoming a centre that attracted artists and writers. The Art Academy, founded in 1777, developed into one of the most respected such institutions in the country, a reputation reinforced by the artists Peter von Cornelius and Wilhelm von Schadow, among others. But the academy never rested on its laurels, and important modern impulses were released there, thanks to the work of Paul Klee, who was an academy professor from 1931 to 1933, and the sculptor and “action” artist Joseph Beuys (1961-72).

Another name that has stuck is “the office desk of the Ruhr”, earned by Düsseldorf in postwar years when banks, courts, multinational firms, organisations of all kinds, state government departments, service industries and the state stock exchange all established themselves there. Düsseldorf is also a very important centre of trade and industry (iron, steel and chemicals), and it is significant that Japanese firms are much more strongly represented here than in Frankfurt. The city's importance for trade is reflected in the numerous trade fairs held here.

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