History in Dusseldorf

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Dusseldorf's history dates back to ancient Roman times when the Germanic tribes who held the marshlands fended off the attacking Romans and managed to keep the area for themselves. Through the 8th century, the area developed into separate fishing settlements that continued to grow into a small village, and eventually a small town. However, it was not until the year 1135 that the first written record appeared of an actual place named Dusseldorf (Dusseldorp, back then).

The Berg Kingdom

From that point on, Dusseldorf's history and expansion progressed at a rapid clip. In 1186 the Bergs conquered the city and by the year 1280 it was made the center of the Berg kingdom. Not long after this, the Archbishop of Cologne attempted to take control of Dusseldorf, but was unsuccessful. This is the primary source of the rivalry between the people of Cologne and Dusseldorf, though that rivalry has since softened to the point where it occurs only in sports and festivals.

Growth and Commerce

On August 14, 1288, Dusseldorf was officially granted city status by Count Adolf V, and the day has been celebrated every year thereafter. Throughout the 1300's the city continued to develop and eventually a market formed within the boundaries of the city's walls. This market expanded to the point that it made Dusseldorf an important location, and it was made the regional capital of the Duchy of Berg in the year 1380. Around the same time, the church of Saint Lambertus was built. The church remains today and can still be visited.

Famous Sights

At this point, many of Dusseldorf's most famous landmarks began to arise. Duke Wilhelm took control of the Duchy of Berg in the 1500's, and erected his castle within the city. (The castle was destroyed in a fire in 1872, and only the tower remains. You can still visit the tower today, which now houses the Maritime Museum and offers a fantastic view over the city.) In 1573 the town hall was completed. It was built in the Renaissance style and still remains a beautiful and well-known part of the city. The opera house and the art gallery were then built during the life of Johann Wilhelm, Dusseldorf's patron of the arts, who lived from 1658 to 1716. In the 1700's, Dusseldorf became the location of Germany's first public park, when the Hofgarten was built. Finally, the Konigsallee (king's boulevard) was commissioned in 1802, and remains one of Dusseldorf's most beautiful stretches of land and road.

Decline and Restoration

Dusseldorf's prosperity was cut short with the start of the Napoleonic Wars in 1803, and it continued to spiral downward through the end of World War II in 1945. The city suffered severe damage, with many of the buildings destroyed in bombings and most of the people living in poverty. However, with the end of the World War II, the city rallied around itself and most of the buildings were restored to their former glory. Commerce moved back into the city, and Dusseldorf has once again become a bustling city center.

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