Düsseldorf’s International Cartwheel Championship is the Stuff of Legend
People in Düsseldorf love cartwheels. Symbols and sculptures of cartwheelers blanket the city,
kids do them for money on the street – and on June 20th, the annual cartwheel championship
crowns the best of them.
Düsseldorf, Germany (Vocus) April 6, 2010 -- The city of Düsseldorf has been in love with cartwheels since
1288, legend has it. Now part of the cityscape, every visitor will come across the image of a cartwheel sooner or
later, or even have children offer to perform them for money (a nickel or a dime a piece), as they do to passersby
on the street all year long. The city founded an annual cartwheel championship in 1937, and now up to 700 boys
and girls from up to 15 countries compete every year. The next event will take place June 20, 2010.
As an expression of joy, doing cartwheels these days certainly makes sense, as Düsseldorf ranks #6 on a list of
global cities in terms of quality of life (Mercer Human Resource Consulting 2009). But there is more to the city’s
love affair. The tradition is said to have started in 1288, when Düsseldorf was granted town charter after a fierce
battle and children ran into the streets doing cartwheels to celebrate. Another legend talks about a boy who
jumped and held the wheel of Prince Jan Willem’s carriage for safety after it broke in an accident, turning himself
into a living wheel. Yet another legend credits a cartwheeler with cheering up Countess Jacobe von Baden, the
unhappy bride-to-be of Johann Wilhelm. Unfortunately, her moment of joy in Düsseldorf didn’t last: her
miserable ghost is said to be the “Woman in White” haunting Düsseldorf’s Castle Tower to this day.
The city is also filled with references to and statues of cartwheelers, the most famous being Cartwheel Fountain
in the city’s historic Old town. Even manhole covers and the doorknob at the famous Lambertus Church feature
cartwheels, and they are one of the most popular Düsseldorf souvenirs.
Teams of boys and girls in