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City profile

Essen - Becoming a metropolis

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 Folkwang Museum 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: Whether in the Zeche Carl culture and community centre or the former Krupp “8th mechanical workshop”, which today is the Colosseum theatre venue for stage shows and musicals in Essen.

The city centre and the Rüttenscheider Strasse, with their shopping centres and specialist independent shops, promise pure shopping paradise.

Essen is the perfect holiday destination. After all, it is the third-greenest city in Germany. The 60-hectare Grugapark and the eight kilometre long Lake Baldeney promise an atmosphere of tranquil relaxation. The lake is overlooked by Villa Hugel, the former ancestral home of the Krupp family, now a top-class exhibition venue. Sports enthusiasts can explore Essen on its well-designed 300km network of bike paths.

Essen has variety. Every year it records about 1.3 million overnight stays. The City of Essen also enjoys an international reputation as a business and trade fair and conference venue.

Further information and contact:

EMG - Essen Marketing GmbH | Tourist Info

Kettwiger Str. 2-10 | D- 45127 Essen
Telephone: +49 201 88 72333 | E-Mail:

what3words: ///october.charmingly.crops

Opening times: Monday to Friday: 10 am to 6 pm | Saturday: 10 am to 2pm

Essen Cathedral

Essen Cathedral and town hall

Essen Cathedral and town hall (photo: Elke Brochhagen)

Cathedral treasure

The Golden Madonna

The Golden Madonna. It is the oldest surviving sculpted figure of Mary in Western art. (photo: Frank Vinken)


Aalto Opera House

Aalto-Theatre, the Opera House, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in 1988 (photo: EMG - Essen Marketing GmbH, Peter Wieler)

Lake Baldeney

Lake Baldeney

the eight kilometre long Lake Baldeney (photo: Peter Prengel, Stadtbildstelle)

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