Thursday, 29 March 2012



Essen is a city in the central part of the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Located on the River Ruhr, its population of approximately 579,000 (as of June 30, 2008) makes it the 9th-largest city in Germany. For the year 2010, Essen was the European Capital of Culture on behalf of the whole Ruhr area.

Until the 1970s, Essen had been one of Germany's most important coal and steel centres. Historically linked to the centuries-old Krupp family iron works, the city has since developed a strong tertiary sector of the economy, so it is sometimes called "desk of the Ruhr area" (together with nearby Düsseldorf). Essen is home to 13 of the 100 largest German corporations and seat to several of the region's authorities.

The oldest archaeological find, the Vogelheimer Klinge, dates the roots of the city back to 280,000 – 250,000 BC. It is a blade found in the borough of Vogelheim in the northern part of the city during the construction of the Rhine–Herne Canal in 1926. Other artifacts from the Stone Age have also been found, although these are not overly numerous. Land utilization was very high – especially due to mining activities during the Industrial Age – and any more major finds, especially from the Mesolithic era, are not expected. Finds from 3,000 BC and onwards are far more common, the most important one being a Megalithic tomb found in 1937. Simply called Steinkiste (Chest of Stone), it is referred to as "Essen's earliest preserved example of architecture".  Essen was part of the settlement areas of several Germanic peoples (Chatti, Bructeri, Marsi), although a clear distinction among these groupings is difficult. The Alteburg castle in the south of Essen dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, the Herrenburg to the 8th century AD. 

As a major industrial centre, Essen was a target for allied bombing during the second world war. Over 270 air raids were launched against the city, destroying 90% of the centre and 60% of the suburbs. On 5 March 1943 Essen was subjected to one of the heaviest air-raids of the war. 461 people were killed, 1,593 injured and a further 50,000 residents of Essen were made homeless.

Both those in search of rest and relaxation and those looking for fun and excitement will find everything they want in Essen – leisure possibilities and events are attractive, numerous and varied, the transformation from an industrial city to a metropolis of culture is evident everywhere. Generally, people who come to Essen for the first time are nearly always surprised: over 50 percent of the area of the city is green! Favourite places for the Esseners and their guests to relax are the banks of the River Ruhr and Baldeney Lake - or the "Gruga" - one of Germany’s biggest and most beautiful city gardens.

With the opening of the shopping center at Limbecker Platz, Essen is decidedly gaining ground in importance as an attractive city. More than 700 retail shops and boutiques are the reason why Essen’s downtown area has been such an attractive shopping place of long standing, and its cultural centres of attraction are quite convincing.

Further enrichments for the Essen experience are city events and attractive restaurant and pubs offering a great selection of food and drink. Essen is regarded as "the city for shopping". Exquisite jewellery shops, elegant boutiques, major furniture stores, exclusive design studios, and an assortment of department stores offer a varied and exciting shopping experience.

Folkwang University of the Arts (Werden Abbey)
Today, most of Essen city centre is a pedestrian zone, it was the first German city to set up a pedestrian area - as early as the 1920s. Essen city centre is very easy to reach by car, bus, or rail. There are 25 multi-storey car parks providing the centre with 12,000 parking spaces.For evening entertainment, there is plenty to choose from: the various Essen theatres, the GOP-Varieté or the cabaret - e.g. in Stratmann's Europahaus. But a tour of the restaurant scene and the various pubs and clubs in Rüttenscheid, Borbeck, Werden, Kettwig, Steele or in the city centre is also well worthwhile. The legendary Lichtburg movie palace and CinemaxX at Berliner Platz - still Germany’s biggest multiplex cinema - not only show all the latest films, but with a variety of bars and bistros also offer their guests the ideal opportunity to conclude an enjoyable evening in style.

Those wanting to “immerse“ themselves in the history of the “Black Country“ should not miss travelling the “Industrial Culture Route“: on a 400-km circuit, 46 industrial monuments afford entirely new perspectives of and insights into the industrial history of the region.

The Old Synagogue

                                                        Essen’s Top 5:
  1. Essen Cathedral. Essen Minster or Cathedral (Essener Münster, since 1958 also Essener Dom) is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Essen, the "Diocese of the Ruhr", founded in 1958. The church, dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian and the Blessed Virgin Mary, stands on the Burgplatz in the centre of the city. The minster was formerly the collegiate church of Essen Abbey, founded in about 845 by Altfrid, Bishop of Hildesheim, around which the city of Essen grew up. The present building, which was reconstructed after its destruction in World War II, is a Gothic hall church, built after 1275 in light-coloured sandstone. The octagonal westwork and the crypt are survivors of the Ottonian pre-Romanesque building that once stood here. To the north of the minster is a cloister that once served the abbey. Essen Minster is noted for its treasury (Domschatz), which among other treasures contains the Golden Madonna, the oldest fully sculptural figure of Mary north of the Alps. The first bishop of Essen, Cardinal Hengsbach, was buried here in 1991.
  2. The Old Synagogue. The former Essen synagogue, completed in 1913 by master builder Edmund Körner on behalf of the Jewish community, is the only free-standing major synagogue structure to have survived - at least externally - the Second World War. Today, it constitutes a unique cultural and architectural monument. The future House of Jewish Culture is, however, presented not as a museum and historical site but rather as a meeting place where people can come into contact with Jewish culture and the Jewish way of life.
  3. The Villa Hügel is a mansion in Bredeney. It belonged to the Krupp family of industrialists and was built by Alfred Krupp during 1873 as a residence. More recently, the Villa Hügel is the main office of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation (major shareholder of the Thyssen-Krupp corporation) and houses an art gallery.  At the time of its construction, the villa featured some technical novelties and peculiarities, such as a central hot air heating system, own water- and gas works and electric internal and external telegraph- and telephone systems (with a central induction alarm for the staff). The mansion's central clock became the reference clock for the whole Krupp enterprise; every clock was to be set with a maximum difference of half a minute. The archive of the Krupp family and company is also located there. An annex, called the Little House (kleines Haus) on the estate holds sixty rooms and served to confine Alfried Krupp in the aftermath of the Second World War. The house has 259 rooms and occupies 8,100 m². It lies in a 28 hectare park overlooking the River Ruhr and the Baldeneysee. 
  4. Werden Abbey.  Saint Ludger founded a monastery in 799 and became its first abbot. The little church which Saint Ludger built here in honor of Saint Stephen was completed in 804 and dedicated by Saint Ludger himself, who had meanwhile become Bishop of Münster. Upon the death of Ludger on 26 March 809, the abbacy of Werden passed by inheritance first to his younger brother Hildigrim I (809–827), then successively to four of his nephews: Gerfried (827–839), Thiadgrim (ruled less than a year), Altfried (839–848), Hildigrim II (849–887). Under Hildigrim I, also Bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne, the new monastery of Helmstedt in the Diocese of Halberstadt was founded from Werden. It was ruled over by a provost, and remained a dependency of Werden till its secularization in 1803.  During this time the abbey and its territory became part of Prussia, but three years later it was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Berg. In 1815 it became Prussian again as part of the Rhine Province. The buildings are currently used by the Folkwang University of the Arts.
  5. Museum Folkwang. All epoch-making art periods from the romantics to the modern avant-garde are represented in the Folkwang Museum by excellent exhibits: paintings, graphics, and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries, a first class collection on the history of photography, antique ceramics and some examples of Far Eastern and African art.

The Villa Hügel


  1. There are so many beautiful places to visit in this city. The photos you showed are really beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. Thanks for your interest, glad you enjoyed it. Tony