What’s the deal with the cartwheeling kids all over Düsseldorf? Statues, the lids of sewer covers, pictures…we had to find out. So we stopped into the Tourist Information Office and found that they even have a brochure about these children doing flips around town!
The tradition dates back a very long time – to 1288 to be exact. Legends says that when the children heard that their city of Düsseldorf had won the Battle of Worringen (a town near Cologne which was fighting for the Duchy of Limburg), they were so excited that they started doing flips to celebrate. Over the years, these flips morphed into what we know call cartwheels, or a side flip.
So now we know. As you wander around Düsseldorf, be on the lookout for these cartwheeling kids in symbols and in reality. According to the Tourist Information Office, not only are they represented in statues and whatnot, but today’s Düsseldorf children will often perform cartwheels in hopes of a small donation from the audience.
This is actually a local custom for Hannover but since I’ve never been there and was introduced to it by Hanover transplant Sabsi who now resides in Düsseldorf I’ll put it here. She thoughtfully gave me a special little glass set for my birthday and we got down to business on her balcony. It seems she did not trust her guest to not spill something on her floor! You fill the bigger glass with a brown beer typical of Hanover and the smaller one with clear and potent schnapps. The trick is to drink them both simultaneously without spilling any. It sure seemed I managed it at the time but from the photos it seems a no go. D obviously was an immediate pro.
There is an old tradition of wheeling in the city (no idea if they were famous wainwrights here or what) and these days cartwheeling is still done by children in the street, usually to collect money for some charity. Outside the Uerige brewpub is this "Radschläger" sculpture to further emphasise this tradition and if anyone can tell me how it all started or why it is so big in Düsseldorf, feel free :)
Düsseldorf lives somewhat in the shadow of its bigger and more famous neighbour Cologne. Competition between the two cities has traditionally been strong, and it is no different now. The rivalry is particularly keen when it comes to beer, with both cities having distinctive and quite different beers. Cologne's beer, a style called Kölsch, is pale and more like a lager, whereas Düsseldorf's Alt beer is darker and similar to British ales. Ordering a glass of Dom Kölsch will not make you very popular, nor will making unflattering comparisons between Düsseldorf and Cologne.
Radschläger wolle mer blieve, wie jeck et de Minsche och drieve.
It's probably some kind of sport for any child in the world but for Düsseldorf turning cartwheels has been a tradition for a many centuries. It was entertainment for visitors of fairs and festivities and begging at the same time - the boys would get a penny or two for each cartwheel.
Today the Radschläger have become a symbol for Düsseldorf, with monuments all around the city, made of cake, the fountain (in the picture), songs, and an annual tournament on the Kö. And girls are allowed these days as well.
A big tradition in Germany is being member of a shooting club, and these people are also famous for having a "Kirmes", huge festivals with funfairs in the summer, when they crown their shooting king and queen.
Part of the festival is always a parade (or more than one) through the city to the festival grounds.
In Düsseldorf the Kirmes takes place every July with a huuuuge funfair. In the picture you can see one of the parades.
On the Friday night they have 30 minutes of fireworks which is a big thing! The fireworks itself it's not that spectacular but you have to go early to get a good spot to watch (take some beer!). All the passenger ships (ferries and the ones for excursions) are lit up and they line up on the river to watch the fireworks. I like the atmosphere, it's usually a nice warm summer evening and it's fun to scream ahhh and ohhhhh with the crowd ;-)
Düsseldorf is Germany's Stag and Hen night paradise. The old town where you can basically fall from one pub into the other is the perfect location for these nights. So if you see people dressed up funnily and drunk - it's not carnival again. If you see people selling condoms or polishing shoes for money - their friends forced them to do so. It's a German tradition to make a fool out of yourself on those nights... Stupid, I know!
In the Middle Ages boys begged for money by doing cartwheels. The "Radschläger" is still a Düsseldorfer symbol which you can buy as a marzipan-"Radschläger" or find as a figure on a fountain (at the Burgplatz). Since 1971 there's a "Radschläger"-competion every year in summer on the Königsalle on which also girls can take part.
Since 1981 also Düsseldorfs English partnercity Reading owns a "Radschläger"-Monument.
OK, this sign in the picture says in the
Düsseldorf dialect something like that:
Don't park here - that would harm us,
because Uerig-Beer is packed here.
Thank you (all)! The uerige
Now, if it was proper German,
it would be written like that:
Parkt hier nicht - was würde uns schaden,
denn Uerig-Bier wird hier verladen.
Dank euch - der Uerige
The symbol of Düsseldorf is the "Radschläger" (somebody who turns a wheel(?). In summer there is a Radschläger tournament along the Kö and I realised today that there is another tradition.
We sat in a bar and kids came up to us saying they were "Düsseldorfer Radschläger" and they turned a wheel for us and we gave them money. Kinda cute (if you see it the first time, ask me what I think about it again in a year ;)
On the pic you can see the Radschlägerbrunnen (Fountain) which you will find in the old town
Dusseldorf people don't really like the Cologne people. When in Düsseldorf don't ask where the cathedral is and don't order a Kölsch (but who would, anyway - the Altbier is soooo much nicer ;-). I have to used to the idea of not defending Cologne anymore tho... as I always wanted to move to Cologne actually...
On the picture you can see 'Cologne Kai' - VT member KaiM - trying to hide that he is from the other side of the Rhine ;-)