Essen is the economic, trade and service center located in the heart of the Ruhr area. The RWE AG, Evonik, the E.ON Ruhrgas, Karstadt and the Hochtief AG as well as other medium and large sized companies are based here. The fair Essen is one of the top ten German fairgrounds.
The modern skyscrapers don’t give the impression that Essen is rich in history. Around 852 Altfrid, the later bishop of Hildesheim, founded an abbey for high society women in the center of present day Essen. The abbesses ruled the city for almost 1000 years. The abbey’s treasury with invaluable objects such as the Golden Madonna, the “Children crown” of Otto III and the seven armed candelabrum are one of the most important collections of sacral art in Germany. The Münster Church is over 1000 years old and is owned by the bishop church of the Ruhr diocese since 1958.
The development of the city Essen is inseparably connected with the discovery and depletion of coal and the cast and steel manufacturing. Since the economic success story of Alfred Krupp in the mid 19th century Essen is the embodiment of the coal and steel industry.
The industrial society has deeply marked the city. Earlier then other regions the Ruhr region had to realize the need of structural change.
Right now Essen’s cityscape transforms more than any other German city. A number of big projects have taken place in different locations of the city. The Thyssen-Krupp AG is building their headquarters on the historic area of Krupp’s cast and steel factory. The building is architecturally impressing and includes an academy. On the grounds of the former Gruga Stadium is now the new headquarters of the E.ON Ruhrgas AG.
The biggest inner-city shopping mall of Germany is located at the Limbecker Platz, which houses around 200 stores. The Museum Folkwang was designated a Capital of Culture with a spectacular new premises designed by the famous architect David Chipperfield.
The Zeche Zollverein (Coal Mine Industrial Complex) is a famous landmark of the Ruhr area. Together with the bordering area of the coking plant, the coal mine complex was inscribed into the UNESCO list of World of Heritage Sites in 2001. It was put into operation in 1932 and closed down as a listed landmark in 1986. Now the rooms are used for the PACT Zollverein with emphasis on dance and the design center of Nordrhein-Westfalen, the internationally known “Red Dot Design Museum” as well as the Zollverein School has settled here. Coal machines and salt deposits of the coking plant Zollverein were also used as locations for art exhibitions that caused sensations.
Another impressive relic of the industrial century is the Colosseum located at the Berliner Platz. The historic production hall, which was used by the company Krupp around 1900, is one of most beautiful music theaters in Germany. The biggest venue is the Gruga Hall, which seats 10,000 people. This hall is host for conference forums, sporting events, other big parties and performances of famous artists.
Museums. Exhibitions. Stages
The museum Folkwang is internationally known for its impressive collection of paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. The neighboring Ruhrland Museum became the new Ruhr Museum. The Villa Hügel in the south of Essen – the former domicile of the industrialist family Krupp – is regularly a gallery host of world-class exhibitions of cultural history. Besides these special events, the villa is worth a visit with its beautiful hill parks. There is another exhibition in the so-called “Small House”, which outlines the company’s and family’s history.
The old synagogue is reminiscent of a dark chapter of the city’s history. It was built in 1911 and finished 1913. Back then it belonged to the biggest and most beautiful Jewish synagogue in Germany. It was set on fire in 1938, which is known as the tragic “kristallnacht/progrom night”. It was alienated in the 60's & 70's, but is a political and historic memorial since 1980.
Essen is famous for its music. The Aalto Opera House is well known beyond the region for its sound and architecture. The philharmonic orchestra of Essen is a venue with character. National and international music artists pay homage to the concert house.
The spoken theatre of Essen is one of the best in Nordrhein-Westfalen. It impresses with classic performances and new projects.
City life and free time
The people of Essen love the combination of city and greenery. The Gruga Park is close to Essen’s fairground and is one of the biggest and most beautiful parks in Germany. It is attractive not only because of the theme plantations and animal enclosures, but it also offers table tennis, roller-skating, volleyball courts and lots of special events. The Baldeney Lake is a popular destination for fishermen, oarsmen, surfers, sailors and inline skaters. Prominent sailors meet for Germany's biggest lake regatta every year. The lake celebrated its anniversary in 2008 and looks back on over 75 years of history.
The beer gardens along the lake and along the river Ruhr are favorite meeting places in the summer. There is also plenty of pubs, brew-houses, bars and cafes in the inner city, in the districts of Rüttenscheid, Essen-Süd, Werden, Kettwig, Steele or Borbeck. The selection is huge. A night out can start at a restaurant of an award winning kitchen or a specialty restaurant and can end at a cozy brasserie, wine bar or popularly visited club. Essen has something to suit every taste.