Monthly Archives: May 2015

City Spotlight: Düsseldorf

Duesseldorf - PanoramaDüsseldorf is the capital city of Germany’s state Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) and has a population of approximately 600,000 people. What is now one of Germany’s largest cities, started off as a small village surrounding the church of St. Lambert and was granted its town charter in 1288. In 1380 the Earls von Berg were granted dukedom and moved into the city. In the early fifteenth century their residence was developed into a castle which was destroyed by a fire in 1872 – the castle’s tower was the only part to survive the fire which is currently a prominent symbol of the city. The city’s town hall was completed in 1573 and is still a popular attraction in the city. The opera house and the art gallery were built next in the mid 1600s. The famous Hofgarten, Germany’s first public park, was completed in the 1700s and has remained a public botanic garden. In the early 1900s the Ehrenhof was built near the Hofgarten which is now home to many museums, performance venues and the Tonhalle, the city’s concert hall (originally built as a planetarium in 1926). The city is currently an international business and financial centre. It is also well known for its fashion and trade fairs, its cabaret, its theatres, museums (e.g. Goethe-Museum and Hetjens Museum), art and history institutes, gardens and sports facilities.

Duesseldorf - Panorama2Top 3 Tourist Attractions:

Rheinturm – the Rhine Tower is a 240.5m high telecommunications tower in Düsseldorf. It was completed in 1981 and is the tallest building in the city. Visitors are able to take a lift up to height of 170m (the lift travels at 4m per second!) and enjoy a spectacular view from the revolving restaurant and observation deck. The windows in the restaurant and observation deck run from the floor to the roof and are tilted so that visitors are able to look straight down at the base of the tower. On a clear day, visitors are not only able to view the city, but a large proportion of North Rhine-Westfalia – even all the way to Cologne!

Dusseldorf - RheinturmKönigsallee – the Königsallee (or King’s Avenue) is a famous avenue in Düsseldorf. It is known for being the luxury retail centre of the city, as well as for the canal which runs along its centre. It is approximately 1km long and starts at the Hofgarten. The canal and boulevard were completed in 1804 and the boulevard was originally named Kastanianallee (chestnut avenue, as the canal is lined by chestnut trees), however, it was renamed in 1848 after King Friedrich Wilhelm IV visited the avenue and had horse manure thrown at him (the avenue was renamed as a gesture of reconciliation). Düsseldorf is currently one of the world’s fashion capitals and the Königsallee is home to many famous luxury brands, such as Bulgari, Cartier, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany & Co. and Swarovski.

Dusseldorf - KonigsalleeAltstadt – the Altstadt is the city’s Old Town. It is home to countless restaurants, cafes and pubs as well as most of the city’s cultural venues. The Burgplatz is in the heart of the Altstadt and currently holds the remains of the castle which once stood there. The Altstadt is lined with beautiful architecture is transformed into a winter wonderland during December when it holds the city’s main Christmas market (see below).

Dusseldorf - Altstadt

Fun Facts:

  • Düsseldorf has a longstanding rivalry with Cologne (including football, ice hockey), particularly as Cologne was determined to become the state’s capital city
  • The custom of doing cartwheels was started by the children in Düsseldorf and dates back to 1288 (sculptures of a cartwheeler can be found throughout the city and on many souvenirs)
  • More than 1,000 trains stop in Düsseldorf’s Hauptbahnhof every day
  • There are more than 400 advertising agencies found in the city, including three of the largest ones in Germany
  • Düsseldorf was the host city for the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest (see picture below)
  • A large part of one of Germany’s most famous soap operas ‘Verbotene Liebe’ (Forbidden Love) takes place in Düsseldorf

Dusseldorf - Eurovision

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German Proverbs Literally Translated into English

Germans have many popular proverbs, however, literally translating them is another matter…

blog 4 - 1German: “Nur die Harten kommen in den Garten.”

Translation: Only the strongest survive.

Blog 4 - 2German: Du gehst mir tierisch auf den Keks.

Translation: You’re driving me crazy.

Blog 4 - 3German: Zu viele Köche verderben den Brei.

Translation: Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Blog 4 - 4

German: Die Kuh vom Eis holen.

Translation: Escape a risky situation. (Well, trying to get a cow off thin ice would be a rather risky situation!)

Blog 4 - 5Note: The literal translation is actually “Lid closed, monkey dead.”

German: Klappe zu, Affe tot.

Translation: Let’s put an end to this.

Blog 4 - 6

German: Ich glaub, mein Schwein pfeift.

Translation: I don’t believe it.

Blog 4 - 7German: Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer.

Translation: This is the cause of that/ That’s the problem.

Blog 4 - 8

German: Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.

Translation: All good things must come to an end.

blog 4 - 9German: Kleinvieh macht auch Mist.

Translation: Small amounts can add up (to something bigger).

Adapted from

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City Spotlight: Stuttgart

Stuttgart - PanoramaStuttgart is the capital city of Germany’s third largest state, Baden-Württemberg. Contrary to many of Germany’s large cities, Stuttgart is made up of both densely populated areas, as well as large hillsides, vineyards and parks. The city of Stuttgart is further divided up into 23 city districts: 18 outer districts and 5 inner districts (Central Stuttgart and Stuttgart-North/ South/ East/ West). The most famous outer district is Bad Cannstatt, home to Europe’s second largest mineral spas, the Wilhelma Zoo, the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Porsche Arena and the Cannstatter Wasn (Stuttgart’s famous Spring Festival).

Stuttgart’s history dates back to the first century AD when the Romans established a fort on the banks of the Neckar river. The Romans were then pushed back from Stuttgart in the 3rd century by the Alemanni (a confederation of German tribes), after which there is a gap in Stuttgart’s history until the seventh century. Stuttgart as we know it today was established around the year 950 during the Hungarian invasion of Europe. Many years later in 1803, Stuttgart was elected as the capital of the Electorate of Württemberg and after Napoleon broke up the Holy Roman Empire, Stuttgart became the capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1805. Fast forward another few years to the early 1880s and, with Gottlieb Daimler’s invention of the automobile, the city’s population was rapidly increasing. In 1949 Stuttgart, along with Frankfurt, was a serious contender to become Germany’s capital city, but in the end, Bonn succeeded. In 1952 the states of Baden and Württemberg merged together to create what we now know as Baden-Württemberg. Throughout this entire time Stuttgart has remained the state’s capital city.

Stuttgart - Panorama2Top 3 Tourist Attractions:

Mercedes-Benz Museum & Porsche Museum – both are equally as fantastic! The Mercedes-Benz museum is the only museum in the entire world that can document all 125 years of automobile industry from its very beginnings to the present day. The museum’s 1,500 exhibits are distributed over 9 floors, including 160 vehicles. Visitors are transported to the top of the museum and back in time to 1886 and then work their way down until the present day.

The Porsche museum is Stuttgart’s second most popular attraction displaying over 80 racing and sports cars, including some very unusual prototypes. The museum cost over 100 million Euro to build and is a must-see for any Porsche fan!

Stuttgart - Mercedes-Benz MuseumWilhelma – The Wilhelma was originally built as a royal palace for the Swabian king, King Wilhelm I, and now houses a zoo and botanical garden. It is home to over 8,000 animals representing over 1,000 different species, as well as over 7,000 species of plants. The animals range from gorillas to sea lions, zebras, brown bears, elephants, jellyfish, crocodiles, rhinoceroses, butterflies, sloths, leopards, anteaters, ostriches, wolves and so much more. The Wilhelma also has a strong focus on conservation and preservation. For example, the zoo is a part of the European Endangered Species Programme, it makes annual donations to the Okapi wildlife reserve in the Congo, it runs special guided tours for schools and participates in various projects to release animals back into the wild, provided the new habitat offers enough food, shelter and protection from poachers. The park receives over 2 million visitors every year from Stuttgart, all over Germany and neighbouring European countries. Whilst closing times depend of the month (earlier in winter, later in summer), it opens its gate at 8:15am every day of the year!

To find out more about this spectacular zoo head to

Stuttgart - WilhelmaSchlossplatz – The Schlossplatz (Palace Square) is the heart of Stuttgart and home to the new Schloss built between 1746 and 1807. Many open-air concerts are held in the square, using the Schloss as a backdrop, and it is home to Stuttgart’s Summer Festival. It is also adjacent to Germany’s largest shopping street, the Königstraβe, which features Stuttgart’s oldest shopping arcade, the Königsbau. The Schlossplatz is also a great place to hang out with friends, lie in the sun or visit one of the cafes opposite the Schloss.

Our top tip: if you’re visiting Stuttgart in summer, grab a gelato from around the corner and enjoy the sunshine on a spot of grass or, alternatively, if you’re visiting in winter, sit at a café, cover yourself in one of the blankets they provide and drink a Nutella latte!

Stuttgart - Schlossplatz

Fun Facts:

  • Stuttgart has the highest density of scientific, academic and research organisations in Germany
  • The Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) is one of the largest in Germany with approximately 280 stalls; its first mention is in documents from 1692 and nowadays attracts approximately 3 million visitors every year
  • The Porsche logo is a modified version of Stuttgart’s coat of arms
  • Stuttgart is one of the greenest cities in Europe
  • The Stuttgart ballet has ranked among the world’s best dance institutions for more than 50 years
  • Friedrich von Schiller studied medicine in Stuttgart from 1773 to 1780
  • Some of Stuttgart’s vineyards date all the way back to 3AD

Stuttgart - Fernsehrturm

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City Sportlight: Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt - PanoramaFrankfurt is the business and financial centre of Germany and Continental Europe. It is the fifth largest city in Germany and the largest city in the state of Hessen. The city is home to over 690,000 people and an additional 650,000 people commute to the city every day! Frankfurt is located on the Main river and is home to the European Central Bank and the German Stock Exchange. The city is one of the most unique cities in Germany where everyone from wealthy bankers to students live together in harmony. The city also boasts the largest international population in Germany: approximately 25% of Frankfurt’s residence do not own a German passport. Frankfurt airport is the third-largest airport in Europe – it is the gateway to Germany and is many people’s first point of arrival in Europe. Aside from being Germany’s business centre, the city is also home to many museums, theatres and a world-class opera.

Frankfurt - CityscapeTop 3 Tourist Attractions:

Städel Museum – The museum was originally established in 1815 by banker and businessman Johann Friedrich Städel and is now ranked as Germany’s oldest museum. Under a single roof, the museum offers a virtually complete collection of 700 years of European art, with a core focus on Renaissance, Baroque and early Modern art. There are over 3,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, 4,000 photographs and 100,000 drawings and prints found in the museums, including work by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, Claude Monet, Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso. This year marks the museum’s 200th anniversary and with that, they are expanding the museum experience into the digital realm. Find out more at

Frankfurt - MuseumMain Tower – The city’s Main Tower is a 200m high (240m including the antenna) skyscraper named after the river Main. It is the city’s only skyscraper with a viewing platform open to the public and gives visitors a view of the whole city (see photo below). The tower is the 4th largest building in Germany and has been the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen’s headquarters since its completion in 1999.

Frankfurt - Main Tower ViewRömer (Roman)- The Römer is a medieval building in the Altstadt of Frankfurt and has been the city hall for over 600 years. The Römer family sold the building to the city in 1405 and it is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The building currently houses many offices, as well as the civil registry office. The hall suffered considerable damage in World War II and after reconstruction beginning in 1945 it was officially reopened in 1955.

Frankfurt - Romer


Fun Facts:

  • Frankfurt ranks as having the world’s seventh highest quality of life
  • The Frankfurt Stock Exchange, built in 1843, is the tenth largest stock exchange in the world
  • There are approximately 180 different nationalities living in Frankfurt
  • Spread over 22 hectares, established in 1971, the Palmengarten is the largest botanical garden in Germany (see photo below)
  • The Frankfurt book fair is the largest trade book fair in the world with over 7,000 exhibits
  • The famous frankfurter pork sausages have been served in the city since the 13th century
  • Frankfurt is home to Germany’s longest shopping street

Frankfurt- Palmengarten

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