Skyline of Essen | © Peter Prengel
Skyline of Essen | © Peter Prengel
Becoming a metropolis

City portrait

Becoming a metropolis

City portrait

Older than Berlin, Dresden and Munich, Essen Abbey and the city of Essen have enjoyed around 1,160 years of eventful history. To begin with, it wasn’t about coal and steel, but about Essen’s strong women. In around 850, Bischof Altfrid founded an Abbey for daughters of the Saxon nobility. Their work is still visible today in the Essen Cathedral Treasury , where the Golden Madonna is among the artefacts on show.

From coal and steel to capital of culture One of the places where the history of the city is told is in the Ruhr museum on the grounds of Zollverein, the UNESCO World Heritage Site . Where once coal and coke ruled everyday life, industrial culture, art and creativity are alive today. In 2010, Essen was named European Capital of Culture, representing the Ruhr region.

Arts, culture and creativity

At the start of the Capital of Culture year, the Museum Folkwang reopened with its spectacular Chipperfield new building. It is one of the most prestigious art galleries in the world. The Opera House , designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in 1988, is the epitome of sleek elegance. It is among the best in Germany and enjoys a strong international reputation. The Essen Aalto Ballet Theatre and the Essen Philharmonic both have an excellent reputation and the Grillo Theatre is one of the best cultural attractions in the country.

In terms of entertainment, Essen has many highlights. At the Lichtburg , for example, Germany’s largest historical picture palace, the GOP Varieté Theatre or the legendary Grugahalle indoor sports arena. The industrial heritage also lives on in the entertainment sector: For example in the Zeche Carl culture and community centre.

Shopping in the city of Essen | © Mike Henning/EMG

Shopping and going out

Shopping in Essen. That stands for diversity, short distances and quality. Essen lives up to its reputation as "The Shopping City" with around 1,000 department stores and shops in the city alone. Whether trendy shoe and fashion stores, flagship stores of major brands or exclusive boutiques and specialty shops - no shopping wishes remain unfulfilled. Lovers of covered shopping fun are in the right place in the Rathaus Galerie and the Limbecker Platz shopping center. The latter, with its 170 shops and restaurants, is one of the largest inner-city shopping centers in the country. Those who want to indulge in culinary delights or go out at the end of a busy shopping day will not only find what they are looking for in the numerous bars and restaurants in the city center, but above all on the "Rü", as the Rüttenscheider Straße is affectionately known by the Essenes.

Grugapark Essen | © Rupert Oberhäuser/Stadt Essen

Nature and leisure

Essen is the perfect holiday destination. After all, it is the third-greenest city in Germany. The 70-hectare Grugapark and the eight kilometre long Baldeneysee promise an atmosphere of tranquil relaxation. The lake is overlooked by Villa Hügel , the former ancestral home of the Krupp family, now a top-class exhibition venue. Hikers can convince themselves of the natural beauty of the city on the "BaldeneySteig" or the new "Panoramasteig Kettwig". In top conditions, both circular routes can also be connected, 60 kilometers on foot through the charming landscapes along the Ruhr. And if you prefer to experience the diverse facets and industrial culture highlights of the city on a bike, there are around 260 kilometers of well-developed bike paths available.

Essen has variety. Every year it records about 1.6 million overnight stays. The City of Essen also enjoys an international reputation as a business and trade fair and conference venue.

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