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Essen ( ) is a city in the central part of the Ruhr Area in North Rhine-Westphaliamarker, Germanymarker. Located on the River Ruhrmarker, its population of approximately 579,000 (as of June 30, 2008) makes it either the 7th- or 8th-largest-city in Germanymarker. The city was appointed European Capital of Culture for 2010 on behalf of the whole Ruhr Area.

Formerly one of Germany's most important coal and steel centres and historically linked to the centuries-old Krupp family iron works, the city has developed a strong tertiary sector of industry and (sometimes together with nearby Düsseldorfmarker) claims to be the "desk of the Ruhr area". It is home to 13 of the 100 largest German corporations and seat to several of the region's authorities.

In 1958, the city was chosen to serve as the seat to a Roman Catholic diocese (often referred to as Ruhrbistum or diocese of the Ruhr). In early 2003, the universities of Essen and the nearby city of Duisburg (both established in 1972) were merged into the University of Duisburg-Essenmarker with campuses in both cities and a university hospital in Essen.


Location, neighbouring communes and general geography





Mülheim an der Ruhrmarker

(Map of districts and boroughs)





1 Recklinghausen districtmarker

2 Mettmann districtmarker

3 Ennepe-Ruhr districtmarker

Essen is located in the centre of the Ruhr Area, one of the largest urban areas in Europe (see also: megalopolis), comprising 11 independent cities and 4 districts with some 5.3 million inhabitants. The city limits of Essen itself are long and border 10 cities, 5 of them independent and 5 kreisangehörig (i.e., belonging to a district), with a total population of approximately 1.4 million.

The city extends over from north to south and from west to east, mainly north of the River Ruhrmarker, which forms the Lake Baldeney reservoir in the boroughs of Fischlaken, Kupferdreh, Heisingen and Werdenmarker. The lake, a popular recreational area, dates from 1931-1933, when some thousands of unemployed coal miners dredged it with primitive tools for the Reichsarbeitsdienst. Generally, large areas south of the River Ruhr (including the suburbs of Schuir and Kettwigmarker) are quite green and are often quoted as examples of rural structures in the otherwise relatively densely populated central Ruhr Area.

The lowest point can be found in the northern borough of Karnap at , the highest point in the borough of Heidhausen ( ). The average elevation is .

City districts

Essen comprises 50 boroughs which in turn are grouped into nine suburban districts (called Stadtbezirke) often named after the most important boroughs. Each Stadtbezirk is assigned a Roman numeral and has a local body of nineteen members with limited authority. Most of the boroughs were originally independent municipalities but were gradually annexed from 1901 to 1975. This long-lasting process of annexation has led to a strong identification of the population with "their" boroughs or districts and to a rare peculiarity: The borough of Kettwigmarker, located south of the Ruhr River, and which was not annex until 1975, has its own area code. Additionally (allegedly due to relatively high church tax incomes), the Archbishop of Cologne managed to keep Kettwig directly subject to the Archdiocese of Cologne, whereas all other boroughs of Essen and some neighboring cities constitute the Diocese of Essen.

For a list of all boroughs of the city, see the end of this article.


Climatic Diagram of Essen
The average temperature is , the average annual precipitation . The coldest month of the year is January, when the average temperature is . The warmest month is July, with an average temperature of . August has the highest average monthly rainfall: .


Essen on an engraving from 1647

Origin of the name

In German-speaking countries, the name of the city often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of the name, there remain a few noteworthy interpretations. The oldest known form of the city's name is Astnide, which changed to Essen by way of forms such as Astnidum, Assinde, Essendia and Esnede. The name Astnide may have referred either to a region where many ash trees were found or to a region in the East (of the Frankish Empire). The Old High German word for fireplace, Esse, is also commonly mentioned due to the industrial history of the city, but is highly unlikely since the old forms of the city name originate from times before industrialization.

Early history

The oldest archaeological find, the Vogelheimer Klinge, dates back to 280,000 - 250,000 B.C. It is a blade found in the borough of Vogelheim in the northern part of the city during the construction of the Rhine-Herne Canalmarker in 1926. Other artifacts from the Stone Age have also been found, although these are not overly numerous. Land utilization has been very high - especially due to the mining activities during the Industrial Age - and any more major finds, especially from the Mesolithic, are not expected. Finds from 3,000 B.C. and onwards are far more common, the most important one being a Megalith tomb found in 1937. Simply called Steinkiste (Chest of Stone), it is referred to as "Essen's eldest 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.

8th-12th centuries

The west work of Essen Cathedral
Around 845, Saint Altfrid (around 800-874), the later Bishop of Hildesheim, founded an abbey for women (coenobium Astnide) in the centre of present-day Essen. The first abbess was Altfrid's relative Gerswit (see also: Essen Abbey). In 799, Saint Liudger had already founded Benedictine Werden Abbeymarker on its own grounds a few kilometers south. The region was sparsely populated with only a few smallholdings and an old and probably abandoned castle. Whereas Werden Abbey sought to support Liudger's missionary work in the Harzmarker region (Helmstedtmarker/Halberstadtmarker), Essen Abbey was meant to care for women of the higher Saxon nobility. This abbey was not an abbey in the ordinary sense, but rather intended as a residence and educational institution for the daughters and widows of the higher nobility; led by an abbess, the members other than the abbess herself were not obliged to take vows of chastity.

Around 852, construction of the collegiate church of the abbey began, to be completed in 870. A major fire in 946 heavily damaged both the church and the settlement. The church was rebuilt, expanded considerably, and is the foundation of the present Essen Cathedral.

The first documented mention of Essen dates back to 898, when Zwentibold, King of Lotharingia, willed territory on the western bank of the River Rhinemarker to the abbey. Another document, describing the foundation of the abbey and allegedly dating back to 870, is now considered an 11th century forgery.

In 971, Mathilde II, granddaughter of Emperor Otto I, took charge of the abbey. She was to become the most important of all abbesses in the history of Essen. She reigned for over 40 years, and endowed the abbey's treasury with invaluable objects such as the oldest preserved seven branched candelabrum, and the Golden Madonna of Essen, the oldest known sculpture of the Virgin Mary in the Occident. Mathilde was succeeded by other women related to the Ottonian emperors: Sophia, daughter of Otto II and sister of Otto III, and Teophanu, granddaughter of Otto II. It was under the reign of Teophanu that Essen, which had been called a city since 1003, received the right to hold markets in 1041. Ten years later, Teophanu had the eastern part of Essen Abbey constructed. Its crypt contains the tombs of St. Altfrid, Mathilde II, and Teophanu herself.

13th-17th centuries

In 1216, the abbey, which had only been an important landowner until then, gained the status of a princely residence when Emperor Frederick II called abbess Elisabeth I Reichsfürstin (Princess of the Empire) in an official letter. In 1244, 28 years later, Essen received its town charter and seal when Konrad von Hochstaden, the Archbishop of Cologne, marched into the city and erected a city wall together with the population. This proved a temporary emancipation of the population of the city from the princess-abbesses, but this lasted only until 1290. That year, King Rudolph I restored the princess-abbesses to full sovereignty over the city, much to the dismay of the population of the growing city, who called for self-administration and Reichsunmittelbarkeit. The title free imperial city was finally granted by Emperor Charles IV in 1377. However, in 1372, Charles had paradoxically endorsed Rudolph I's 1290 decision and hence left both the abbey and the city in imperial favour. Disputes between the city and the abbey about supremacy over the region remained common until the abbey's dissolution in 1803. Many lawsuits were filed at the Reichskammergerichtmarker, one of them lasting almost 200 years. The final decision of the court in 1670 was that the city had to be "duly obedient in dos and don'ts" to the abbesses but could maintain its old rights—a decision that did not really solve any of the problems.

In 1563, the city council, with its self-conception as the only legitimate ruler of Essen, introduced the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic abbey had no troops to counter this development.

Thirty Years' War

During the Thirty Years' War, the Protestant city and the Catholic abbey opposed each other. In 1623, princess-abbess Maria Clara von Spaur, Pflaum und Valör managed to direct Catholic Spaniards against the city in order to initiate a counter-reformation. In 1624, a "re-Catholicization" law was enacted, and churchgoing was strictly controlled. In 1628, the city council filed against this at the Reichskammergericht. Maria had to flee to Cologne when the Dutchmarker stormed the city in 1629. She returned in the summer of 1631 following the Bavarians under Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim, only to leave again in September. She died 1644 in Cologne.

The war proved a severe blow to the city, with frequent arrests, kidnapping and rape. Even after the Peace of Westphalia from 1648, troops remained in the city until September 9, 1650.


The three rings of Krupp
The first historic evidence of the important mining tradition of Essen date back to the 14th century, when the princess-abbess was granted mining rights. The first silver mine opened in 1354, but the indisputably more important coal was not mentioned until 1371, and coal mining only began in 1450.

At the end of the 16th century, many coal mines had opened in Essen, and the city earned a name as a centre of the weapons industry. Around 1570, gunsmiths made high profits and in 1620, they produced 14,000 rifles and pistols a year. The city became increasingly important strategically.

Resident in Essen since the 16th century, the Krupp family dynasty and Essen shaped each other. In 1811, Friedrich Krupp founded Germany's first cast-steel factory in Essen and laid the cornerstone for what was to be the largest enterprise in Europe for a couple of decades. The weapon factories in Essen became so important that a sign facing the main railway stationmarker welcomed visitor Benito Mussolini to the "Armory of the Reich" in 1937. The Krupp Works also were the main reason for the large population growth beginning in the mid-19th century. Essen reached a population of 100,000 in 1896. Other industrialists, such as Friedrich Grillo, who in 1892 donated the Grillo Theatre to the city, also played a major role in the shaping of the city and the Ruhr Area in the late 19th and early 20th century. Although no weaponry is produced in Essen any more, old industrial enterprises such as ThyssenKrupp and RWE remain large employers in the city. Foundations such as the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung still promote the well-being of the city, for example by supporting a hospital and spending €55 Million for a new building for the Museum Folkwang, one of the Ruhr Area's major art museums.


Old and new government seats: Essen Cathedral (front) and the city hall (background)

Historical development

The administration of Essen had for a long time been in the hands of the princess-abbesses as heads of the Imperial Abbey of Essen. However, from the 14th century onwards, the city council increasingly grew in importance. In 1335, it started choosing two burgomasters, one of whom was placed in charge of the treasury. In 1377, Essen was granted Reichsunmittelbarkeit but had to abandon this privilege later on. Between the early 15th and 20th centuries, the political system of Essen underwent several changes, most importantly the introduction of the Protestant Reformation in 1563, the annexation of 1802 by Prussiamarker, and the subsequent secularization of the principality in 1803. The territory was made part of the Prussian Province of Jülich-Cleves-Bergmarker from 1815-22, after which it became part of the Prussian Rhine Provincemarker until its dissolution in 1946.

During the Nazi era (1933-1945), mayors were installed by the Nazi Party. After World War II, the military government of the British occupation zone installed a new mayor and a municipal constitution modeled on that of British cities. Later, the city council was again elected by the population. The mayor was elected by the council as its head and as the city's main representative. The administration was led by a full time Oberstadtdirektor. In 1999, the position of Oberstadtdirektor was abolished in North Rhine-Westphaliamarker and the mayor became both main representative and administrative head. In addition, the population now elects the mayor directly.

City council

The last local elections took place on September 26, 2004. As a result, Dr. Wolfgang Reiniger (CDU) was elected Lord Mayor and the following political parties gained seats in the city council:

(Christian Democrats)

(Social Democrats)




Alternative Essen


(National Conservatives)

(Democratic Socialists)

Essen steht AUF

32 28 9 2 5 2 2 1 1 82
The city is governed by a coalition of Reiniger's CDU and the Greens.

Coat of arms

Essen's coat of arms
The Handelshof Hotel with modified coat of arms and unofficial motto
The coat of arms of the city of Essen is a heraldic peculiarity. Granted in 1886, it is a so-called Allianzwappen (arms of alliance) and consists of two separate shields under a single crown. Most other coats of arms of cities show a wall instead of a crown. The crown, however, does not refer to the city of Essen itself, but instead to the secularized ecclesiastical principality of Essen under the reign of the princess-abbesses. The dexter (heraldically right) escutcheon shows the double-headed Imperial Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, granted to the city in 1623. The sinister (heraldically left) escutcheon is one of the oldest emblems of Essen and shows a sword that people believed was used to behead the city's patrons Saints Cosmas and Damian. People tend to connect the sword in the left shield with one found in the Cathedral Treasury. This sword, however, is much younger . A slightly modified and more heraldically correct version of the arms can be found on the roof of the Handelshof hotel near the main station.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Essen is twinned with:
The City of Monessen, PAmarker, situated along the Monongahela River, was named after the river and Essen.

Industry and infrastructure

Major companies based in Essen

The RWE Tower
Essen is seat to several large companies, among them the ThyssenKrupp industrial conglomerate which is also registered in Duisburgmarker and originates from a 1999 merger between Duisburg-based Thyssen AG and Essen-based Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp. The largest company registered only in Essen is Germany's second-largest electric utility RWE AG. Essen also hosts the worldwide corporate headquarters of DB Schenker, the logistics division of Deutsche Bahn. Other major companies include Germany's largest construction company Hochtief AG, as well as ALDI Nord, Evonik Industries, Arcandor AG, Medion AG and Deichmann, Europe's largest shoe retailer. With Eon-Ruhrgas, Germany's largest gas company also has its seat in Essen. The Coca-Cola Company had also originally established their German headquarters in Essen (around 1930), where it remained until 2003, when it was moved to the capital Berlinmarker.


The city's fair grounds, Messe Essen, host some 50 trade fairs each year. With around 530.000 visitors each year, Essen Motor Show, the top international car tuning fair, is by far the largest event held there. Other important fairs open to the consumers include SPIEL, the world's biggest consumer fair for gaming and also occasion of the presentation of the Essen Feather and of the Deutscher Spiele Preis, Techno-Classica (vintage cars) and one of the leading fairs for equestrian sports, Equitana, held every two years. Important fairs restricted to professionals include Security (security and fire protection), IPM (gardening) and E-World (energy and water).


The Westdeutscher Rundfunk has a studio in Essen, which is responsible for the central Ruhr Area. Each day, it produces a 30-minute regional evening news magazine (called Lokalzeit Ruhr), a 5-minute afternoon news programme, and several radio news programmes. A local broadcasting station went "on-the-air" in the late 1990s. The WAZ Media Group is one of the most important (print) media companies in Europe and publishes the Ruhr Area's two most important daily newspapers, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ; 580.000 copies) and Neue Ruhr/Rhein Zeitung (NRZ; 180.000 copies). In Essen, the WAZ Group also publishes the local Borbecker Nachrichten (at times Germany's largest local newspaper) and Werdener Nachrichten, both of which are formerly independent weekly newspapers for parts of Essen. Additionally, Axel Springer run a printing facility for their boulevard-style daily paper Bild in Essen.


One renowned educational institution in Essen is the Folkwang Hochschulemarker, a University of the Arts founded in 1927, which is headquartered in Essen and has additional facilities in Duisburg, Bochummarker and Dortmundmarker.

The University of Duisburg-Essen, which resulted from a 2003 merger of the universities of Essen and Duisburg, is one of Germany's "youngest" universities. One of its primary research areas is urban systems (i.e., sustainable development, logistics and transportation), a theme largely inspired by the highly urbanised Ruhr area. Other fields include nanotechnology, discrete mathematics and "education in the 21st century". Another university in Essen is the private Fachhochschule für Oekonomie und Management, a university of applied sciences with over 6000 students and branches in 15 other major cities throughout Germany.


Essen offers a highly diversified health care system with more than 1,350 resident doctors and almost 6,000 beds in 13 hospitals, including a university hospital. The university hospital dates back to 1909, when the city council established a municipal hospital; although it was largely destroyed during World War II, it was later rebuilt, and finally gained the title of a university hospital in 1963. It focuses on diseases of the circulatory system (West German Heart Centre Essen), oncology and transplantation medicine, with the department of bone marrow transplantation being the second-largest of its kind in the world.


Streets and motorways

The road network of Essen consists of over 3,200 streets, which in total have a length of roughly .

Three motorways touch Essen territory, most importantly the Ruhrschnellweg (Ruhr fast way, A 40), which runs directly through the city, dividing it roughly in half. In a west-eastern direction, the A 40 connects the Dutchmarker city of Venlomarker with Dortmundmarker, running through the whole Ruhr Area. It is one of the arterial roads of the Ruhr Area (> 140,000 vehicles/day) and suffers from heavy congestion during rush hours, which is why many people in the area nicknamed it Ruhrschleichweg (Ruhr crawling way). A tunnel was built in the 1970s, when the then-Bundesstraße was upgraded to motorway standards, so that the A 40 is hidden from public view in the inner-city district near the main railway stationmarker.

In the north, the A 42 briefly touches Essen territory, serving as an interconnection between the neighboring cities of Oberhausenmarker and Gelsenkirchenmarker and destinations beyond.

A segment of the A 52 connects Essen with the more southern region around Düsseldorfmarker. On Essen territory, the A 52 runs from the southern boroughs near Mülheim an der Ruhrmarker past the fairground and then merges with the Ruhrschnellweg at the Autobahndreieck Essen-Ost junction east of the city center.

With the A 40/A 52 in the southern parts of the city and the A 42 in the north, there is a gap in the motorway system often leading to congestion on streets leading from the central to the northern boroughs. An extension of the A 52 to connect the Essen-Ost junction with the A 42 to close this gap is considered urgent; it has been planned for years but not yet been realized - most importantly due to the high-density areas this extension would lead through, resulting in high costs and concerns with the citizens.

Public transport

As with most communes in the Ruhr Area, local transport is carried out by a local, publicly-owned company for transport within the city, the DB Regio subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn for regional transport and Deutsche Bahn itself for long-distance journeys. The local carrier, Essener Verhehrs-AG (EVAG), is a member of the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) association of public transport companies in the Ruhr Area, which provides a uniform fare structure in the whole region. Within the VRR region, tickets are valid on lines of all members as well as DB's railway lines (except the high-speed InterCity and Intercity-Express networks) and can be bought at ticket machines and service centers of EVAG, all other members of VRR, and DB.

A southbound Stadtbahn line
EVAG operates 3 Stadtbahn, 7 tram and 59 bus lines (16 of these serving as Nacht Express late-night lines only), with a total length of , and , respectively. One tram line and a few bus lines coming from neighboring cities are operated by these cities' respective carriers. The Stadtbahn, which partly runs on used Docklands Light Railway stock, is a mixture of tram and full underground systems. Two lines are completely intersection-free and hence independent from other traffic, and the U 18 line leading from Mülheimmarker main station to the Berliner Platz station at the gates of the city center partly runs above ground amidst the A 40 motorway. On the same motorway, a long-term test of a guided bus system is being held since 1980. Many EVAG rail lines meet at the main station but only a handful of bus lines. However, all but one of the Nacht Express bus lines originate from / lead to Essen Hauptbahnhof in a star-shaped manner. All EVAG lines, including the Nacht Express lines, are closed on weekdays from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.

Of the Rhein-Ruhr S-Bahn net's 13 lines, 5 lines lead through Essen territory and meet at the Essen Hauptbahnhofmarker main station, which also serves as the connection to the Regional-Express and Intercity-Express network of regional and nationwide high-speed trains, respectively. Following Essen's appointment as European Capital of Culture 2010, the main station, which is classified as a station of highest importance and which had not been substantially renovated over decades, will be redeveloped with a budget of € 57 million until early 2010. Other important stations in Essen, where regional and local traffic are connected, are the Regionalbahnhöfe (regional railway stations) in the boroughs of Altenessen, Borbeck, Kray and Steele. Further 20 S-Bahn stations can be found in the whole urban area.


Together with the neighbouring city of Mülheim an der Ruhrmarker and the state of North Rhine-Westphaliamarker, Essen maintains Essen/Mülheim Airport (IATA: ESS, ICAO: EDLE). While the first flights had already arrived in 1919, it was officially opened on August 25, 1925. Significantly expanded in 1935, Essen/Mülheim became the central airport of the Ruhr Area until the end of the Second World War, providing an asphalted runway of , another unsurfaced runway for gliding and destinations to most major European cities. It was heavily damaged during the war, yet partly reconstructed and used by the Allies as a repairing airport since the view is less often obscured there than at Düsseldorf Airportmarker. The latter then developed into the large civil airport that it is now, while Essen/Mülheim nowadays mainly serves occasional air traffic (some 33,000 passengers each year), the base of a fleet of airships and Germany's oldest public flight training company. Residents of the region around Essen typically use Düsseldorf Airportmarker (~ 20 driving minutes) and occasionally Dortmund Airportmarker for both domestic and international flights.

Sights and landmarks

Zollverein Industrial Complex

Shaft XII of Zollverein Coal Mine

The Zollverein Industrial Complex is the city's most famous landmark. For decades, the coal mine (current form mainly from 1932, closed in 1986) and the coking plant (closed in 1993) ranked among the largest of their kinds in Europe. Shaft XII, built in Bauhaus style, with its characteristic winding tower, which over the years has become a symbol for the whole Ruhr Area, is considered an architectural and technical masterpiece, earning it a reputation as the “most beautiful coal mine in the world”. After UNESCOmarker had declared it a World Heritage Site in 2001, the complex, which had lain idle for a long time and was even threatened to be demolished, began to see a period of redevelopment. Under the direction of an agency borne by the land of North Rhine-Westphaliamarker and the city itself, several arts and design institutions settled mainly on the grounds of the former coal mine; a redevelopment plan for the coking plant is to be realised.

On the grounds of the coal mine and the coking plant, which are both accessible free of charge with paid guided tours (some with former Kumpels) available, several tourist attractions can be found, most importantly the Design Zentrum NRW/Red Dot Design Museum. The Ruhrmuseum, a museum dedicated to the history of the Ruhr Area, which had been existing since 1904, will open its gates as one of the anchor attractions in the former coal-washing facility in autumn 2009.

Essen Cathedral and treasury

The former collegiate church of Essen Abbey and nowadays seat of the Bishop of Essen is a Gothic hall church made from light sandstone. The first church on the premises dates back to between 845 and 870; the current church was constructed after a former church had burnt down in 1275. However, the important westwork and crypt have survived from Ottonian times. The cathedral is located right in the centre of the city, which evolved around it. It is not spectacular in appearance and the adjacent church St. Johann Baptist, which is located directly at the pedestrian precinct, is often mistakenly referred to as the cathedral. The cathedral treasury, however, ranks amongst the most important in Germany since only few art works have been lost over the centuries. The most precious exhibit, located right within the cathedral, is the Golden Madonna of Essen (around 980), the oldest known sculpture of the Madonna and the oldest free-standing sculpture north of the Alps. The Madonna is commonly referred to as Essen sein Schatz or Essen its treasure, to translate literally. Other exhibits include the alleged child crown of Emperor Otto III, the eldest preserved seven-branched Christian candelabrum and several other art works from Ottonian times.

Old Synagogue

Opened in 1913, the then-New Synagogue served as the central meeting place of Essen's pre-war Jewish community. The building ranks as one of the largest and most impressive testimonies of Jewish culture in pre-war Germany. In post-war Germany, the former house of worship was bought by the city, used as an exhibition hall and later rededicated as a cultural meeting centre and house of Jewish culture.

Villa Hügel

Villa Hügel
Built in 1873 by industrial magnate Alfred Krupp, the 269-room mansion ( ) and the surrounding park of served as the Krupp family's representative seat. The city's land register solely lists the property, which at times had a staff of up to 640 people, as a single-family home. At its time of 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 of the whole Krupp enterprise; every clock was to be set with a maximum difference of half a minute. It even got its own railway station, Essen Hügel, which is still a regular stop. The Krupp family had to leave the Gründerzeit mansion in 1945, when it was annexed by the allies. Given back in 1952, Villa Hügel was opened for concerts and sporadic yet high profile exhibitions.

Kettwig and Werden

Historic town centre of Kettwig
In the south of the city, the boroughs of Kettwig and Werden exceptionally stand for towns once of their own, which have been annexed in the mid-20th century and which have largely preserved their pre-annexation character. While most of the northern boroughs have been heavily damaged during the Second World War and often lost their historic town centres, the more southern parts got off more lightly.In Werden, St. Ludger founded Werden Abbeymarker around 799, 45 years before St. Altfrid founded the later cornerstone of the modern city, Essen Abbey. The old church of Werden abbey, St. Ludgerus, was designated a papal basilica minor in 1993, while the main building of the former abbey today is the headquarters of the Folkwang Hochschulemarker of music and performing arts.Kettwig, which was annexed in 1975, much to the dismay of the population that still struggles for independence, was mainly shaped by the textile industry. The most southern borough of Essen is also the city's largest (with regard to area) and presumably greenest.

Other important cultural sights

  • Museum Folkwangmarker: One of the Ruhr Areas major art collections, mainly from the 19th and 20th century. Currently, major parts of the museum are being rebuilt and expanded according to plans of David Chipperfield & Co. The Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation is the sole founder of the €55 million project to be completed in late 2009. After its re-opening it will then also host the collection of the Deutsches Plakat Museum (more than 340.000 exhibits).
  • Aalto Theatre: Opened in 1988 (according to plans dating back to 1959), the asymmetric building with its deep indigo interior is home to the Essen Opera. The interior was designed in a way that it should not have a negative effect on both audience and performers when the show is scarcely attended.
  • Saalbau: Home of the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, completely renovated in 2003/2004. The Essen Philharmonics have repeatedly been appointed Germany's Orchestra of the Year amongst critics.
  • Colosseum Theater: Situated in a former Krupp factory building at the gates of the central pedestrian precinct, the Colloseum Theatre has been home to several musical productions from 1996 on.
  • Zeche Carl, a former coal mine now a Cultural Centre and venue for Rock concerts and home of Offener Kanal Essen.

Other sights

  • Gartenstadt Margarethenhöhe: Founded by Margarethe Krupp in 1906, the garden city with its 3092 units in 935 buildings on an area of (of which 50 ha are woodland) is considered the first of its kind in Germany. All buildings follow the same stylistic concept, with slight variations for each one. Although originally designed as an area for the lower classes with quite small flats, the old part Margarethenhöhe I has developed into a middle class residential area and housing space has become highly sought after. A new part, Margarehenhöhe II, was built in the 1960s and 1970s but is architecturally inferior and especially the multi-storey buildings are still considered social hot spots.
  • Grugapark: With a total area of , the park near the exhibition halls is one of the largest urban parks in Germany and, although entry is not free of charge, one of the most popular recreational sites of the city. It includes the city's botanical garden, the Botanischer Garten Grugapark.
  • Lake Baldeney: The largest of the six reservoirs of the River Ruhrmarker, situated in the south of the city, is another popular recreational area. Swimming in the lake is forbidden but it is actively used for sailing, rowing and ship tours. The hilly and only densely developed forest area around the lake, from which the Kettwig area is easily reachable, is also popular with hikers.

Notable personalities

For a comprehensive list of people who were born or acted/lived in Essen, see this article in the German Wikipedia.

Honorary citizens

The city of Essen has been awarding honorary citizenships since 1879 but has (coincidentally) discontinued this tradition after the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germanymarker in 1949. A notable exception was made in 2007, when Berthold Beitz, the president of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation received honorary citizenship for his long lasting commitment to the city.The following list contains all honorary citizens of the city of Essen:

Today, the highest award of the city is the Ring of Honour, which Berthold Beitz, for example, had already received in 1983. Other bearers of the Ring of Honour include Essen's former lord mayor and later President of Germany, Gustav Heinemann, as well as Franz Cardinal Hengsbach, the first Bishop of Essen.


  • Most sections of this article are translations from the German Wikipedia. The versions used can be found under the following three links: [26290], [26291] and [26292]. The original authors of the German language version can be found here


  1. ("Schreibtisch des Ruhrgebiets")
  2. Geoklima 2.1
  4. Paul Derks: Der Ortsname Essen, in: Essener Beiträge 103 (1989/90), pp. 27-51
  6. Detlef Hopp: Essen vor der Geschichte – Die Archäologie der Stadt bis zum 9. Jahrhundert, in Borsdorf (Ed.): Essen – Geschichte einer Stadt, 2002, p. 32
  8. History of Essen (in German)
  9. Origin of the sword in the Essen Cathedral Treasury
  11. Bundesverkehrswegeplan 2003, p. 124
  13. Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs:,302.1040342/doc.htm
  14. RVV-Stats 2007
  15. European Route of Industrial Heritage
  16. Official Villa Hügel Web Page
  17. Official Site of the State Parliament of North Rhine-Westphaila
  19. Speech by Mayor Wolfgang Reiniger (German)
  20. Honorary Citizens of Essen

External links

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