Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


Japan on the Rhine

Dusseldorf is one of the largest cities in Western Germany. It is the capital of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The city lies at the meeting point of the Rhine and Dussel rivers. Dusseldorf is famous around the world as a center of business and finance. People from across Germany and further visit the city in great numbers for its trade fairs and its carnival celebrations every spring.     

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The name Dusseldorf comes from a combination of the name of the river Dussel (which runs through the city) and the word dorf, meaning “village” in German. This name hints at the city’s early history as a small farming and fishing village in the 7th and 8th centuries CE.  

Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises, Dusseldorf

A Brief History of Dusseldorf

  • The earliest accounts of people living in the region of the modern city of Dusseldorf go back to Roman times. Germanic tribes who lived on the marshes off the eastern bank of the River Rhine came together into small settlements at this time.   
  • Dusseldorf was first mentioned by name in a written text dating back to 1135 CE. At this time the nearby town of Kaiserwerth became an important fortress under the control of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. Kaiserwerth is now a neighborhood of the modern city of Dusseldorf. 
  • 1288 was an important year in the history of Dusseldorf. This was when the ruler of the region, Count Adolf VIII of Berg, granted the village the status of a town. This meant that it could organize its own markets and trade more freely with other towns and regions across Europe. The city was protected by strong walls and became the home of the Dukes of Berg.
  • The city was one of the most prosperous in the region by the late 16th century. In 1609 there was a struggle for control over the town after the last Duke of Berg passed away without an heir. Eventually the town came under the rule of the Counts of the Palatinate.
  • The city was controlled by allies of the French Emperor Napoleon in the early 19th century. After Napoleon’s defeat, it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. During this period the city became a major industrial center. Its population grew to over 100,000 by 1882 and had doubled again just ten years later.
  • The city was badly affected by bombing during the Second World War between 1939 and 1945. Despite this destruction, the city recovered quickly after the war came to an end.

    It is now one of Germany and Europe’s most important and wealthiest cities. It has attracted many residents from around the world who work for the international companies based in the city.

    Thousands of Japanese people live in the city, giving it the nickname “Japan on the Rhine”. Dusseldorf regularly appears in lists of the top cities in the world to live in.


The Rheinturm is Dusseldorf’s most famous and by far its tallest landmark. The tower stands at 787 feet (240 meters) high. It is used as a radio and television tower to carry signals across the region. It also hosts an observation deck which offers visitors fantastic views over the city and the surrounding countryside below.

Inside the deck is a sculpture designed by Horst H. Baumann called the Lichtzeitpegel, or “light time level”. This allows you to tell the time by the way that the light passes through the sculpture. The Rheinturm was opened on December 1st, 1981.

Schloss Benrath

This beautiful palace lies at the center of the Benrath neighborhood of the city. It was designed to act as a place for Elector Palatine Charles Theodor and his family to relax and escape from city life. The palace was built between 1755 and 1770 by the French architect Nicolas de Pigage. 

It is surrounded by a large park which was used for hunting by the Elector and his family. Nowadays, the palace is a museum which offers guided tours of the house and its grounds. The east and west wings of the main palace contain two museums dedicated to Garden Art and Natural History.


This Konigsallee or King’s Avenue is one of the most beautiful and famous streets in all of Germany.  It is known for the canal that runs along its center and for the numerous high-end fashion and luxury stores that are located on both sides. The street runs for around 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from Dusseldorf’s main park, the Hofgarten, to Carl Theodor Strasse. 

Every year the street hosts one of the world’s largest fashion fairs. One story says that the street was given its name to apologize to the King of Prussia, Frederick William IV. He was not loved in the city, and was welcomed by residents throwing rotting fruit at him when he visited in 1848. 


The Kunsthalle is Dusseldorf’s main venue for exhibitions of modern art. The building was opened in 1967 and is a famous example of the Brutalist style of architecture. This style uses sharp angles, large flat surfaces, and lots of concrete. 

It is a special gallery because it has no art collection of its own. Instead, the art works shown are constantly changing. The Kunsthalle is designed to help its visitors think about the place of art in society and in their everyday lives. 

An Authentic Dusseldorf Dish

One of Dusseldorf is a fantastic place to try some traditional dishes of the German region of Westphalia. One typical dish found in many Dusseldorf restaurants is Halve Hahn. 

This simple dish is made with rye bread served with butter and special cheese. It is usually accompanied with onions, pickles, and mustard. The cheese used in Halve Hahn is made only in the nearby city of Mainz.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "markets" mean?
    1. places where doctors and dentists work
    2. places where goods and services are bought and sold
    3. places where churches are built 

  2. What does "prosperous" mean?
    1. lucky or fortunate
    2. boring or miserable
    3. rich or wealthy 

  3. What does "heir" mean?
    1. older male relative
    2. a female cousin
    3. successor or person who will inherit something 

  4. What does "architect" mean?
    1. someone who carves sculptures
    2. someone who writes operas
    3. someone who designs buildings 

  5. What does "luxury" mean?
    1. something special and expensive
    2. something hard and smooth
    3. something secret or mysterious

Collocation Questions

  1. The Dussel and Rhine rivers ___________ at Dusseldorf.
    1. congregate
    2. meet
    3. gather

  2. In the 12th century Kaiserwerth was a far bigger and more ___________ settlement than Dusseldorf.     
    1. important
    2. crucial
    3. pivotal

  3. Count Adolf VIII of Berg gave Dusseldorf the ___________ to call itself a town and open its own free marketplace.
    1. responsibility
    2. right
    3. gift

  4. Control over the city was taken ___________ by the Counts of the Palatinate in the 17th century after the line of the Dukes of Berg ended.
    1. beyond
    2. above
    3. over

  1. The city was ___________ into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815 following the defeat of Napoleon.
    1. inserted
    2. limited
    3. incorporated

  1. Dozens of global ___________ have their European headquarters in Dusseldorf. 
    1. companies
    2. syndicates
    3. outfits

  1. King Frederick William IV of Prussia did not receive a ___________ welcome on his visit to Dusseldorf in 1848.
    1. boiling
    2. hot
    3. warm

  2. The Schloss Benrath was designed as a place of ___________ for the Elector Palatine Charles Theodor and his family.
    1. laziness
    2. leisure
    3. sloth 

  3. All of the art exhibitions at the Dusseldorf Kunsthalle are ___________.
    1. mortal
    2. fleeting
    3. temporary

  4. Halve Hahn uses a kind of cheese that is ___________ to the North Rhine-Westphalia region.
    1. unique
    2. one of a kind
    3. selective

Wh Questions

  1. What is the name of Dusseldorf’s largest park?
    1. Tiergarten
    2. Schlossgarten
    3. Hofgarten 

  2. Why is it best to visit the Rheinturm on a sunny day?
    1. because then you can see the lichtzeitpegel at work
    2. because of its solar panels 
    3. because it is closed on rainy days 

  3. Where are the most fashionable shops in Dusseldorf to be found?
    1. Kunsthalle
    2. Carl Theodor Strasse
    3. Konigsallee 

  4. How long did Nicolas de Pigage take to build the Schloss Benrath?
    1. 15 months
    2. 15 years
    3. 12 years

  1. When was the Kunsthalle opened?
    1. 1907
    2. 1987
    3. 1967

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Carl Theodor served as the Elector Palatine during the mid to late 18th century.
    2. Carl Theodor served as the Duke of Westphalia during the mid to late 18th century. 

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. The Rheinturm was originally built as a lighthouse to guide ships on the river Rhine.
    2. The Rheinturm was originally built as a radio and television communications tower.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Dusseldorf is considered to offer its residence one of the best standards of living of any city in the world".
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Count Adolf VI of Berg granted Dusseldorf town status in 1284".
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. B | 2. C | 3. C | 4. C | 5. A | 6. B | 7. A | 8. B | 9. C | 10. C | 11. A | 12. C | 13. B | 14. C | 15. A | 16. C | 17. A | 18. C | 19. B | 20. C | 21. A | 22. A | 23. A | 24. B

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