Essen — a former industrial city that has transformed over the years into a vibrant, modern urban centre

Panorama of Essen at dusk

Essen is one of the largest cities in Germany’s western Ruhr region, or “Ruhrpott” as the Germans like to call it. A former industrial city mainly known for coal mining and steel production, Essen has transformed over the years into a vibrant, modern urban centre, offering more than its traditional image might indicate whilst staying true to its historic roots.


Things to see and do

Folkwang Museum

Folkwang Museum

The Folkwang Museum houses one of Germany’s most renowned art collections, spanning 19th century art — including pieces by Van Gogh and Monet — as well as classical modern art, photography, and sculpture.

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Baldeneysee and Villa Hügel

View of Villa Hügel and Baldeneysee

Once a reservoir, Baldeneysee is now a recreational park, home to rowing clubs, sailing and surfing schools. It’s also the perfect place to take a summer stroll or head out on a boat ride.

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Built in 1873 overlooking Baldeneysee, Villa Hügel is the former residence of the Krupp steel dynasty. The mansion gardens offer a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. Today, it is open to the public and plays host to exhibitions and concerts.

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Zeche Zollverein

Zeche Zollverein

Zeche Zollverein is symbolic of the Ruhr region’s cultural changeability. Built as a coal-fired plant in 1932, it has since attained UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and hosts various cultural events and activities from theatre performances to concerts and exhibitions. Visitors can learn more about Essen’s industrial past while experiencing the city’s development into a culturally diverse and vibrant place.

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Aalto Theatre

Interior of the Aalto Theatre

While walking around Essen’s centre you might stumble upon the Aalto Music Theatre or the Philharmonic Orchestra Building, which draw in audiences all year around. From opera to ballet performances, there’s something for everyone.

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International Christmas Market

Ice skating rink at Kennedy Square

During Christmas time, Essen’s international Christmas market brings many people into the city. Visitors can treat themselves to culinary specialties from all over the world and have a look at the various arts and crafts items on display. Be sure not to miss the ice skating rink at Kennedy Square!

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British-German Town Twinnings

Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Essen has been twinned with Sunderland in Tyne and Wear since 1949.