This year, Reading is celebrating 70 years of our twin town status with Düsseldorf, Germany. To celebrate, the Reading Fringe Festival 2017 is hosting a number of acts from our twin city, including Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult, contemporary dance troupe Ben J.Riepe Company and opera soprano Linda Hergarten.
Ahead of the Fringe Festival, brush up on your Düsseldorf knowledge with our guide to ten intriguing things you didn’t know about the western German city.
Ten Düsseldorf Facts
1. The city boasts 26 museums and over 100 galleries, an opera and a ballet company despite having a population of just over half a million people.
2. Düsseldorf’s famously chic Königsallee (Kings Avenue) was renamed in honour of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in an attempt to make amends for the King being pelted with horse manure by an unruly mob during an 1848 visit.
3. Düsseldorf was once home to Anna Maria Luisa, the daughter of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and sole remaining heir to the Medici line. She was instrumental in developing the rich cultural heart of the city.
4. The Rheinturm, located in the Medienhafen, is the world’s largest digital clock.
5. Throughout the city you will see the work of 77-year-old graffiti artist, Harold Naegli who was granted asylum in 1979 and remains one the city’s more prolific artists.
6. Felix Mendelssohn‘s first paid job as a musician was his appointment as musical director in Düsseldorf, at the age of 24.
7. The Rhine River – over twelve hundred kilometres long and passing through four countries – is a prominent feature of the city. But Düsseldorf derives its name from a smaller river – the Düssel – a forty kilometre river that branches into the Rhine. The word ‘dorf’ means village.
8. While it may be known for its classical music, Düsseldorf is also the home of iconic electronic band, Kraftwerk. For the Fringe Festival, long-time Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult brings his multimedia show to the South Street Arts Centre on Saturday 22 July. A visual artist and musician, Emil met the members of Kraftwerk while at art school in Düsseldorf.
9. German punk band, Die Toten Hosen has reserved 17 spaces for band members at Düsseldorf’s Südfriedhof Cemetery.
10. Üter Zörker, the German exchange student in the cartoon the Simpsons, hails from Düsseldorf where his parents own a bubblegum factory. In the German version of the Simpsons he is a Swiss exchange student from Basel.