Coal Pot? Outdated Image of an Underrated Region
The Ruhr District, nicknamed the Kohlenpott (coal pot), is one of the most underestimated regions in Germany and beyond. The general image involves coal and steel industry, bad air, grey cities and no green at all in those few bits of landscape that are left between cities. This was valid three, four decades ago but is long outdated. Since the late 1980s the Ruhrgebiet underwent a profound change from an industrial zone to a region of culture and high tech.
The coal ressources were exploited by around 1985/1990. First the mines died, then the steel mills. There is some coal remaining along the northern edge of the area but it is deep down and accessible only with enormous efforts, costs and dangers. Only four mines are still working (2010) but with high state subventions. EU politicians have recently decided to close them down in the near future, despite protests.
The death of the heavy industries lead to high unemployment and hopelessness at first. However, things have changed and ideas have changed and the region is on the way into a new future.
The change started with the International Architecture Exhibition (IBA) and the ambitious project Emscher Park. The Emscher, a river that became a canalized drain through the worst part of the industrial zone. This underdevelopped area with its factory and mine ruins was to be turned into the "Route of Industrial Culture" with technical monuments, attractions, new housing quarters and green nature. The planners' imagination found new uses for the huge, impressive buildings of mines, steel mills, factory halls, gas tanks, power plants. They became art exhibition halls, dance clubs, cinemas, freeclimbing centres, concert halls, museums, landscape parks... The flagship, Zollverein coal mine (see things to do tipps), achieved the status of UNESCO World Heritage in 2001. Today's "Coal Pot" is a green landscape with clear sky, lakes and rivers. 5 million people live in "Germany's biggest village". People are down-to-earth, open-minded, rough but hearty. Although there are of course rivalries between neighbouring suburbs and cities and between the fans of neighbouring soccer clubs, there is a general "Ruhrpott" identity.
The Ruhrgebiet consists of 53 separate cities. Dortmund and Essen are the biggest with more than 500,000 inhabitants each. Each of them offers everything city life requires. The density of opera houses, first and second league soccer stadiums, museums, shopping centres, nightlife... is higher than anywhere else. Cultural life is as varied and vibrant as in a metropolis like Berlin, Paris, London. There is heaps to do and see within short distances. All cities are well interconnected by trains and S-Bahn so city hopping is easy. One would need a year to see them all and do them justice.
There is a auctioneers in...
There is a auctioneers in Frohnhausen who sell a lot of junk. It's more a junkshop cause you can buy so many old things there. If you need glasses and don't want to pay too much for them, than you find there any kind of glasses,e.g. for wine, brandy or you also can buy glassbowls and cans. But all stuff is old cause they get all the things from households where the person died before and the relatives don't want these things. You can find some little treasures there. Books, old records, clothes, cupboards, wadrobes, TV's, and so many other things. It's pure fun to rummage around in this store.
You can find it under this address: Auktionshaus Göhlmann, Berlinerstr.14, 45145 Essen, Opentimes:Mo-Fr 9.00 - 18.00
St. Gertrud church
The current St. Gertrud church was built from 1872 till 1875 in new gothic style. It was consecrated in 1887.
In 1943 the church was destroyed in WW2 and was only rebuilt in 1955. Before then the Gertrudis congregation used the Marktkirche dating back to the 11th century. During the reformation the Marktkirche became protestant and the catholic Gertrudis congregation then used the Johanniskirche by the Münster from 1563. From 1827 the Münsterkirche itself.
Go and see the old coal mining...
Go and see the old coal mining areas. You'll be visiting an official World Culture Heritage Site with a particular romantically industrial charm about it. It has also been called 'the prettiest coal mine (at least above earth level) on this planet'... now, I don't know if I'd call it pretty... but it's definitely a cool place! :o)
On Zeche Zollverein ('Zeche' meaning 'mine') there's sometimes exhibitions. It's quite nice, especially if you have a soft spot for gigantic, industrial architecture.
If you go there and if you're not afraid of the dark, then make sure still to be on the grounds after sunset (I think they offer guided midnight walks out there, too), it's a cool atmosphere!
Long long time ago
"Essen, the new heart of the Rohrpot"
During my highschool years (long long time ago) we visited Essen in a school exchange program. In the spring the students from Essen first visited Arnhem and a few weeks later we came to Essen to look around this brand new town. At this time I did have a camera, but actually only made pictures of some of the girls that guided us around (oh, how young we were - hehe). I remember our visit to the skyscratcher in the center, from where you had a great view over the town (the picture is made recently from the air, when returning from Warsaw by plane and recognising Essen immediately from up high). I also remember the dinner I had with one of the girls at home. Strange, as I in that time barely spook any German. In the eneving we had a discotheque party near a large park and the rest of my memories about this visit ... is history ...
"Essen, home of my friend hundertmorgen"
Anyway, if you need information about Essen, there is one who knows everything about this town. It's Sandra, aka VT-member hundertmorgen.
This reminds me that I definatily have to return soon to the surface of Essen, as I haven't spoken to her in a way too long time ...