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Ruhr Region - From the Industry to the Capital of Culture

The Ruhr region has a wide range of cultural, sporting and local recreation facilities and is characterised by its industrial culture, which is a great tourist attraction now.

The Tetraeder in the Ruhr region

Geography - Europe's most highly developed region

The Ruhr region, also called "Ruhrpott", "Pott" or "Revier", is located in the west of Germany in the state of North Rhine-Westsphalia. With about 5.2 million inhabitants and an area of 4,435 km², it is the country's greatest settlement area and is considered the best developed region in Europe. It borders on the Lippe River in the north and the eponymous Ruhr in the south. The region contains the four central big cities of Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund and nearby you see significant cities like Oberhausen, Gelsenkirchen and Bottrop. Since the Ruhr region with the city of Essen was declared the European Capital of Culture in 2010, the region has developed into a popular travel destination. The Ruhr region lies in the temperate climate zone with relatively mild winters and pleasantly warm summers.

Essen in the Ruhr region

Nature - Lush green in an industrial setting

The typical scenery in the Ruhr region is dominated by urbanisation and numerous dumps. Between densely built-up industrial and residential areas, you find green spaces in the form of forests, parks and meadows. This balance between nature and the living environment people have created for themselves goes along with a wide range of leisure facilities. Important local recreation areas are the six Ruhr dams: Stausee Hengsen, Hengsteysee, Harkortsee, Kemnader See, Baldeneysee and Kettwiger See. A highlight is the Grugapark, which is the most significant botanical garden in the Ruhr region and is a real natural spectacle during the rhododendron blossom season. Another worthwhile sight is the Westfalenpark, in which you can relax or spend an eventful day with your family.

Westfalenpark in the Ruhr region

Culture - A changing region

During the coal and steel boom, many industrial firms settled in the region. Since there was not enough housing space for their employees, these firms built so-called workers' settlements, e.g. Eisenheim, Margarethenhöhe and Dahlhauser Heide, which are popular sights now. In the course of time, the cities grew into a large industrial region and are so closely connected that town signs are the only indication of where one city ends and the next one begins. The heavy industry does not play an important role any more and the former industrial facilities have been turned into tourist attractions. You can explore the region's change from the industrial culture in the past to the present on the scenic route of the Industrial Heritage Trail (Route der Industriekultur). It accommodates many interesting museums such as the German Mining Museum (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum) and the Bochum Dahlhausen Railway Museum in Bochum, the Ruhr Museum in Essen and the open-air museum in Hagen. Significant industrial monuments are the Inner Harbour (Innenhafen) in Duisburg, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex (Zeche Zollverein) in Essen, the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum and the Heinrichshütte in Hattingen. Worthwhile cultural attractions are the Villa Hügel, the former residence of the Krupp family, the Engelsburg in Recklinghausen and Bladenhorst Castle in Castrop-Rauxel. Other cultural sights are Essen Minster, the Old Synagogue in Essen and the Sri Kamadchi Ampal Temple in Hamm. Art lovers will be impressed by the Tetraeder in Bottrop, a gigantic artwork, from which you have a wonderful view in good weather.

Villa of the Krupp family

Experience - An unmatched variety of entertainment

The Ruhr region offers a variety of cultural events. Countless venues like the Comödie Bochum, the Theater Marl, the Metronom Theater in Oberhausen, the Philharmonie in Essen and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg cater for all tastes. Popular annual events are the funfairs: the ExtraSchicht – Nacht der Industriekultur, Recklinghausen leuchtet and the Juicy Beats Festival in the Westfalenpark. Travellers who want to go out in the evening should meet in the Bermudadreieck, Bochum's bar district. Holidaymakers who want to go on long shopping tours but do not want to travel to Paris, London or New York City, will not be disappointed by the Ruhr region. If you are looking for spa treatments, you can relax in thermal baths and saunas. The typical cuisine in the Ruhr region is simple, inexpensive and hearty, characterised by the hard working conditions in the past. Main ingredients are potatoes, endives and black pudding. You don not normally find regional dishes in gastronomy because most restaurants are international ones who serve Italian, Egyptian, Thai, Japanese and Spanish food. In Haus Rodenberg, for example, you can enjoy Italian dishes in a pleasant ambience.

Haus Rodenberg in Dortmund

Activities - Being active or relaxing in local recreation areas

The Ruhr region offers a wide range of leisure and sporting activities. You can explore the appealing environment while going cycling, jogging or in-line skating. While winter sports fans can pursue their hobby at any time of the year in the Alpincenter in Bottrop, water sports fans can go sailing, surfing or go on a trip with a pedalo or rowing boat on Kemnader See. A more relaxed experience is a boat trip on Baldeneysee. While horse lovers get their money's worth on the race course in Dortmund or the trotting course in Gelsenkirchen, football fans can watch a match in one of the region's many stadiums. Travellers who are looking for a rush of adrenaline should go karting or visit one of the many climbing facilities in Dortmund, Duisburg or Oberhausen. There is a lot to see and do for families too. Numerous leisure and amusement parks promise memorable holidays and great memories. Some of the most popular facilities are the Movie Park Germany in Bottrop, the ZOOM Erlebniswelt in Gelsenkirchen, the Freizeitzentrum Xanten, the zoos in Dortmund and Duisburg and the Revierpark Vonderort in Oberhausen. Many families travel in a camping van or go camping. The Ruhr region offers numerous green spaces for such activities.

Ship on the Baldeneysee


The Ruhr region is the most highly developed region in the whole of Germany and reaching it could not be any easier as its traffic connections are excellent. The region's main airport is located in Dortmund and there are two more in Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn, which are in an outlying position but have good transport connections. The people in the Ruhr region speak Standard German with a Northwest German accent and Polish influences, which is called "Ruhrdeutsch" ("Ruhr German").

Whether you want to go on a city trip to go shopping, eat out and party or a natural holiday where you can relax or be active - the Ruhr region caters for all tastes. The numerous attractions of industrial culture make the region an appealing and unique destination.

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