Essen is situated in the central point of the Ruhr region, along the North Rhine-Westphalia. One of the most interesting places in Essen is the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen. It is a huge complex and museum that is devoted mainly to local history and a preserved monument to industrial culture. It’s pretty interesting and interactive with a nice view of Essen City from the observation deck. The visit to the cultural complex of Zollverein is illustrative of the history of the coal extraction techniques in Europe and how this pillar of the energy industry was growing in Germany. The place was closed since the 80s, but the site is now maintained as a great cultural complex that shows how a coal mining site is now transformed into a family park.
When To Go:
The best time to visit is amid the following months: May, June, July, August, September and October. It is around these months when the normal temperatures are cool with less chances of downpour and the temperature ranges from 10°C to 20°C. You may also appreciate planning a vacation even during the cold winter season (November – April), where the chilly temperature ranges from 0°C to 10°C. The summer season reaches its hottest climate in the month of August, where the temperature ranges from 18°C to 25°C.
If you want to see the city brightly decorated, it is best to come during Christmas time. It is also in this month when the city observes the Essen Light Festival. There are lots of fun things to do (aside from a visit to the Christmas Markets) starting from the observance of Christmas up to welcoming the New Year. The peak season continues up to the month of February, the celebration of Carnival, which draws eager visitors from all over the world.
Here are the attractions and
things to do
in the city of Essen…
Hoher Dom (High Cathedral)
In the middle of the downtown area of interest is the
. This old cathedral in Essen is just a few steps away from the major attractions of the city. Upon entrance you will find peace, tranquillity, and time for contemplation. It was established since the 8th century (854 AD), but the cathedral is still well maintained and the important parts are preserved. In the cloister building you can learn about the history of the cathedral and the role of women in this former monastery.
The art treasures, particularly in the Cathedral Treasury are well exposed and are equally significant with the artifacts presented in the Cologne Cathedral. In the courtyard there is a garden where you can enjoy the peace and quiet, although a few meters is the middle of the city with its busy traffic. In this monastery, the famous golden Madonna stands beside the altar in dark blue mosaics designed from the vault. The monastery originally belonged to the Essen Munster, which was believed to be where the origin of the city of Essen started.
Dom-Schatzkammer (Essen Cathedral Museum)
The presentation of the
Essen Cathedral Museum
is not confined simply to the issue of religious treasures, but provides visitors with detailed explanation about the city or abbey in a rich historical context. The Essen Cathedral counts next to Cologne and Aachen as the most important church treasuries in Germany.
The pièce de résistance is the Golden Madonna, which was reopened after a thorough renovation. Also interesting is the seven-branched candlestick, four processional crosses, a crown, etc. In this treasury, the riches of the cathedral are to be admired. In addition, you can see the Essen-based foundation icon with its original sword and shield. A tour is best done with a guide, because everything is explained in detail.
Alte Synagoge (Old Synagogue)
is a must see attraction in Essen. It is a religious structure with interesting information about the building, the history of food and the Jewish community, Jewish life, customs, rituals, and culture. It is centrally located as it stands opposite the main town hall of Essen. The very large and old synagogue that has survived the 2nd World War provides information panels from the chronological history of the building. The tour is very touching as many details about the Third Reich or ill-treatment of the Nazis are mentioned.
The exhibition in the building highlights the dark history of Germany, which must never be forgotten. On the top floor you can see old manuscripts in Hebrew. Here you can learn about the history of the construction of the synagogue. If you go down to the basement, you can see the most interesting part; a treasure trove where much jewelery, gold and silver coins are proudly displayed. Entrance is free and you will only be asked to leave your bag in a locker.
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex In Essen
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex In Essen
is the official landmark of the city. It gives everyone a lasting impression of the industrial culture in the Ruhr area. It is advisable to book a guided tour to learn the history of the mine. During the guided tour you will learn a lot of interesting and exciting facts about the former coal factory in Essen. The plant is very interesting and offers many photo opportunities. Here you can easily spend a whole day exploring the spacious grounds. The plant is exemplary cared for and preserved.
In addition to the mine and the Ruhr Museum, the Design Museum and the coking plant are well worth seeing and very suitable for a trip in fine weather. In addition, you can swim in the summer and go skating in winter. The restaurant / cafe invites you to linger and absorb the legacy imparted by this great industrial location. A visit to this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site is definitely a must for anyone who wants to understand everything about the region of Ruhr and its historic roots.
Red Dot Design Museum
Red Dot Design Museum
can be found in the Zollverein area and one of the real highlights of the industrial complex. The discrepancy between the old dilapidated industrial facility and highly modern design highlights a great play on contrast that is absolutely worth seeing when in Essen. The building alone is worth a visit, because the old machine hall has been left in its “traditional” state.
You can still see the tubes, threaded valves, and shafts everywhere. If you like old industrial culture, you have an infinite number of photo opportunities here. The former boiler house of the Zeche Zollverein was rebuilt by the Norman Foster Architeken. It has exhibits which have been awarded the red dot design award. It’s great fun to stroll through the colorful collection.
is one of the best known and finest museums in Essen where you can find the works of world class artists like; Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and Gaugin. The famous images of the history of art are there in a beautiful and special atmosphere to see, where the natural light gives the pictures a special glow. The clarity and directness in architecture is another great feature of this impressive building. A visit here is a must for anyone interested in art and culture. The Museum Folkwang in Essen is a crowd drawing museum in the area.
It has an excellent permanent collection of photography, art exhibits of impressionism and expressionism, Los Carpinteros and “Helmet” with its treasures of antiquity and non-European cultures in addition to the outstanding exhibitions (with additional costs) that are worth seeing. A voluntary donation to the “Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation” is required to access the site, but it is not compulsory. The new building of the museum is in itself an architectural highlight of the Ruhr. The thematic, temporary exhibitions are of high quality and partly sensational.
is a striking recreational area in the city. There are playgrounds, lawns, and kiosk and of course the famous Gruga train, where you can make a round trip through the spacious park (at no extra cost). The admission price is fair enough and collected for the park’s overall maintenance. There are several entrances, greenhouses, water surfaces, etc. In addition, you can rent barbecue areas if you need to spend time or have a picnic with your family on a weekend.
There is a petting zoo, pony rides, and a number of recreational areas with a variety of things to do. After a tour of the industrial complex and other major attractions of the city, this park serves as a beautiful oasis in the middle of the urban jungle. If you expect a large, varied garden with many little surprises about Essen, you will be very pleased. The Grugapark is a park in Essen, which emerged from the first GRUGA (Ruhr Area Gardening Exhibition) from 1929 and was subsequently re-opened as the first exhibition in Germany about a garden that is designed for the public. The complex is located south of downtown between the districts of Rüttenscheid, Holsterhausen and Margarethenhoehe and covers approximately 65 hectares on the slopes of the hills in the valley of Borbecker mill brook.
Old Town Werden
Old Town Werden
is located in the Ruhr area, where you will go through a small town with half-timbered houses and a huge abbey with a mighty church. The gastronomy and cuisine here have adapted to the demands of tourism and presents a wide range of international dishes. It has a very quaint atmosphere and a lot of church culture provided by the Diocese of Essen. The old town is not very big, but it is nice to stroll. There are several cafes with great cakes. After drinking coffee, you can take a walk along the Ruhr on the promenade to the Baldeneysee.
There is also a park where you can relax and a small island that is designed for the youth who wants to engage in sports. Werden is a beautiful neighborhood district of Essen. It is separated from the center and near the lake. It has a small pleasant town where you can stroll and continue around the island until you reach the lake. The pedestrian area has some old gabled houses and cafes with terraces. It is highly recommended, especially in good weather!
Old Town Kettwig
Old Town Kettwig
is ideal for a stop when travelling through the region. It is lined with half-timbered houses, cozy streets, shops and ice cream parlors or beer gardens. You will be enchanted by Kettwig Altstadt, a former clothier town in Essen. It is a well-preserved old town with a combination of half-timbered houses and the location is right on the Ruhr which also attracts many pedestrians. This village on the outskirts of Essen is far from the hustle and bustle of the city center and features traditional architecture.
You can take two more stops on the S6 train to reach the town of Kettwig. You can get to the Old Town in two ways – from the station on the Kettwig Ruhrtalstrasse, which will take you to the Ringstrasse and 15 minutes later you will reach the old town, which has the path of villas built in the late 19th – early 20th century.
The second way is if you come to the next station called the Kettwig Stausee, you must come down from the station to the street, turn left and go to the place where the right side has a passage between the fences (and then you can walk along the shore of the Ruhr). If this passage is not seen, it is necessary to go to the first streets on the right and make a turn- it will take you to the bridge over the Ruhr. Just walk through the streets and lanes of the old town with its half-timbered houses; it is not very big, but it’s very cute. Be sure to go to the cafe “Froschkonig”, which is located in the oldest part of the city (part of the walls preserved from the XIV century), and throw a coin into the well.
is the official home of the Krupp family. It is a nice complex with a beautiful park and informative exhibitions about the family history. The Villa Huegel is one of the most imposing buildings in Essen. It exemplifies a true pageantry villa dating back to the industrialist’s time, one that is worth seeing from the inside and the outside. It highlights diverse exhibitions and events. Surrounded by a splendid park and courteous staff; everything around this villa is well maintained. The castle-like estate with vast parkland can be found along the Baldeneysee.
The Villa offers an exhibit of culture and nature close to the city center. It appeals not only for those who are interested in the work and history of the Krupp family, but the Villa Hügel can be wonderfully integrated into a recreational trip to the nearby Baldeneysee. After a tour of the house museum, you can wander and linger in the adjacent park that is filled with rare trees planted by Mr. Alfred Krupp. The beautiful park around the property completes the picture. It’s impressive what the Krupp family has done and it is worthwhile for everyone to see this piece of German history in the city of Essen.
The design and facade of the
convey timeless architecture and beauty. There are exciting guided tours behind the scenes for a small fee. The Opera House of Essen has a Baroque appearance with golden candlesticks and red velvet – an important highlight of Scandinavian architecture and one of the masterpieces of the Finnish star architect Alvar Aalto.
It is located in the city park, only a few meters from the Philharmonie Essen. The quality of the building corresponds to the ensemble and the productions. The opera house is stylishly decorated (the “wavy” exterior is the best highlight), the presentation is perfect, and if you try to attend a performance the audience is elegant and dressed for the occasion. Musically, it offers a world class performance delivered by its group of professional artists.
is an absolute must for any music lover. It mainly plays classical music. The artists are mostly renowned people from the music industry. The high-profile concert program with world-class classical musicians is a gift for all music fans. The hall with its warm light and excellent acoustics makes every concert a special experience. The great Alfred Krupp Hall is not only visually pleasing to the eye, many soloists and conductors from around the world praise its special acoustics. The performance of the Essen Philharmonie Orchestra is great and definitely worth seeing.
Ruhr Museum Essen
Ruhr Museum Essen
offers great insight into the history of the Ruhr region. Through the view from the roof of the building (Panorama Platform) you can see the whole area and get an idea about the dimensions of the plant. The backdrop to the entire mines area is truly impressive. It is well signposted and parking is free. The Ruhr Museum itself is built quite confusing, for it has illuminated many aspects of the Ruhr area, but said very little. The sequence of the permanent exhibition is confusing because it is not arranged chronologically and not consistent with the theme. Mostly you will miss the thematic contexts. However, it is still worth a visit.
Essen is not only blessed with postcard like scenes, it is also filled with monuments and structures that are dedicated to culture, art, music, and history. The city is somewhat off the beaten track, but very nice. It’s a bit cumbersome to reach by public transport, but a stroll through the city is very rewarding. There are many beautifully preserved old houses and interesting little shops that look detailed and individually different. The overall ambiance of the city brings you back on how Europe looked during the year 1914, which also contributes to the enrichment of your travel experience and a chance to understand why the North Rhine Westphalia in Germany is worth exploring.