Ruhrgebiet: from industrial region to cultural melting pot.

Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrgebiet forms one of the largest conurbations in Europe with 5 million residents and is now known for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and many other towns and cities combine to form a fascinating urban area that is full of surprises.

Does the Ruhrgebiet lie on the Ruhr river? Yes, but although the former industrial region takes its name from the Ruhr river, which forms its southern border, you may be surprised to know that it is also traversed by the Emscher and Lippe rivers. Irrespective of the waterways flowing through them, all of the towns and cities have one thing in common: they have successfully achieved the transition from industry to culture. This change of role has been evident and permanent, both the new reality and a new identity, since the Ruhr region's year as European Capital of Culture 2010, in which not only the 'Big Five' – Duisburg, Oberhausen, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund – took part but also more than 50 other Ruhr towns and cities. Major international events, such as the Ruhrtriennale, the Ruhr Piano Festival and the Ruhr Theatre Festival, take place at venues across the region and feature some of the most exciting performances to be found on stages and in concert halls anywhere. Lying within a few kilometres of one another, the 20 museums in 15 towns and cities that make up the RuhrArtMuseums form the greatest concentration of modern art museums in the world. Yet they are only a few of the region's 200 or so museums. The oldest is the Museum of Art and Cultural History in Dortmund, which opened in 1883, while the biggest is the Folkwang Museum, which attracts around 800,000 visitors per year. This wealth of museums is part of something even more significant: the Ruhrgebiet's emergence as a new cultural region that respects, cherishes and preserves its vast industrial heritage. Today's Ruhrgebiet is characterised by 'Change through culture – culture through change', new arts venues in former industrial sites and a population who have taken to this new role with enthusiasm.

The blast furnaces, gasometers and winding towers are still standing, providing visible reminders of an industrial past. Although coal is no longer mined here, they still dominate the landscape of the Ruhrgebiet and serve as venues for theatre, music, painting, dance, performance and more. They can be explored along the Route of Industrial Heritage, a 400km circuit through the Ruhrgebiet that stretches from Duisburg to Hamm and Hagen and takes in 54 striking monuments to Germany's industrial past and present. One of the best examples, Duisburg-Nord Industrial Landscape Park, can be found in Duisburg itself. Here an industrial wasteland has been transformed into a multi-functional park with an entirely new perspective, featuring Europe's biggest man-made diving centre in the old gasometer, Alpine climbing gardens and many other things you would not normally expect to find in an industrial city. Neighbouring Oberhausen has rediscovered what was once its most famous landmark. Built in 1929, the gasometer between the Rhine-Herne Canal and the gigantic CentrO shopping and leisure complex was once used to store gas from the coking plant and is now one of Europe's most unusual cultural venues. Essen, which can be regarded as the main 'district' of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010, is home to the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the quintessential symbol of the entire region's transformation. Not quite as spectacular but just as worthy of a visit is the Golden Madonna in Essen Cathedral's treasury. The earliest known full-relief figure of Mary in the world and one of the most important works of art from the early Middle Ages, it is both poignantly simple and breathtakingly beautiful. Objects of a more secular nature are displayed in the red dot design museum, the largest contemporary design exhibition in the world. Covering an area of more than 4,000 square metres, the museum presents around 1,000 design icons that have received the internationally coveted red dot design award.

Just a stone's throw away in Bochum is the Jahrhunderthalle (Centennial Hall), the main venue for the Ruhrtriennale. This early example of a modern, purely functional industrial building has come to symbolise the new Ruhrgebiet. Bochum's time as a city of smoking chimneys and glowing blast furnaces is illustrated at the German Mining Museum, the largest of its kind in the world. Every year, more than 400,000 visitors to the museum descend underground and then travel to the top of the winding tower, which offers fabulous views over Bochum and the Ruhr region at a height of 63 metres. And speaking of the Ruhrtriennale: this international arts festival in fact takes place annually. The name reflects the fact that a new artistic director is appointed every three years. Bochum once had more collieries than anywhere else in the Ruhr region but now has the most theatres. The party capital of the entire region, Bochum's 'Bermuda triangle' of bars and clubs offers an unforgettable night out. Another place to see the stars is the city's Zeiss Planetarium. Dortmund's skyline is dominated by an enormous 'U' that can be seen for miles around. Today 'Dortmund U', the former Dortmunder Union Brewery, is a centre for art, creativity and commerce. A nine-metre-high golden 'U' – the brewery's logo – crowns the tower of this high-rise building, where it has shone out over the city since 1962. Another source of pride and joy, the football club Borussia Dortmund, is located just a few kilometres away. And only a little further along, to the south-east of the city, are the headwaters of the Emscher river. Once considered the most polluted river in Germany, the Emscher is now being restored to nature. Huge amounts of time and effort are being spent on creating a pleasant new landscape here. Scheduled for completion in 2020, it will represent the new image of the Ruhrgebiet and its move from the past into the future while enjoying the present. There is just one more thing to say: you will love the modern Ruhrgebiet with its industrial tradition.

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What travellers from around the world are saying

Herrenhauser Gärten Grotto

Niki the St.-Phalle at her best

A couple of years ago a very wealthy friend of mine, who owns an work of art by French artist Niki de St.-Phalle, told me included Hannover in a trip to Europe just to see Nikki's art in town. I had totally forgotten this until I came to Hannover and found out that Niki's works are all over the place. There are three Nanas in the Sculpture Mile downtown and an ancient grotto at the Herrenhauser Gardens was redone by Niki, who filled with her Nanas, a colorful Ganesha and a myriad of kaleidoscopic mirrors. Before her death, she donated her private collection to Hannover's Sprengel Museum, and will appear in the new wing due to open late in 2016.

loe edasi »

xongas@gmail.com

Elbphilarmonie

The next big thing

Due to open in 2017, the Elbphilarmonie is a ~very~ controversial project among Hamburg's taxpayers. But its sheer originality and generous public spaces will definitely put Hamburg on the map of people who've never thought of visiting this vibrant town. The building will contain three concert halls, two hotels, apartments, shops and a public square between the base of the bulding (a former wharehouse) and the new, Gaudí-esque top. You can count on Hamburg becoming as popular with foreign travelers as it is among German visitors.

loe edasi »

xongas@gmail.com

Christmas Markets in Cologne

A White Christmas in Cologne

My notions of winter in Europe have been shaped by Hollywood movies. I expected to watch snowflakes romantically descend upon short winter days, and the cosy glow of Christmas trees in makeshift homes (think boutique hotels) to keep me warm. What surprised me on my December trip to Germany was the camaraderie and sheer revelry at the country’s famous Christmas markets, compelling enough to brave the single digit temperatures and rejoice over a white winter! If the thought of Europe evokes images of quaint old churches in juxtaposition with hi-tech buildings, and old towns with cobbled streets and artistic cafes, a winter trip to Cologne only romanticizes those images further. Come December, chirpy little Christmas Markets pop up among the city’s most charming neighborhoods, and become the go-to place for the city’s locals. Colorful booths line the streets, selling traditional German and Christmas gifts, like the famous Räuchermännchen, a wooden toy that is an incense smoker in disguise. Food stalls serve up hash browns, frankfurters, crepes, and local delicacies. People gather around drinking glühwein, the famous mulled wine of Europe warmed with spices, chatting, warming up over some neighborhood gossip. Christmas music plays everywhere, and the night rings with the clinking of cups and prost. Such revelry! At the Christmas Market on the Alter Markt in Cologne, local craftsmen and women demonstrate their talents with wood crafts, crystal painting and glass glazing; it is fascinating to observe the precision and pride that goes behind each little piece of work, and meet men and women who have come to these markets since they were little boys and girls. But the icing on the cake in a festive Cologne is its main market, which glitters in the dramatic backdrop of the city’s oldest and most charming cathedral; truly a European Christmas!

loe edasi »

shivyanath@gmail.com

Alternativ livsstil i centralt belägna Gängeviertel

Alternativ livsstil i centralt belägna Gängeviertel

I Neustadt i centrala Hamburg finns det tolv höghus vars skepnad kontrasterar mot de arkitektritade glaskomplexen som omger dem. Det är Gängeviertel som är en hejdlös blandning av konstnärskollektiv, caféer, matkooperativ, musikscener och experimentella utställningar. Här kan vad som helst hända. Exempelvis ett 24-timmars DJ-maraton. I en annan lokal pågår soundcheck för kvällens rockband. Oavsett vad som sker så är vi förundrade över att elektriciteten pallar och att det inte blir kortslutning i de löst hängande elledningarna. Var inte blyg - våga öppna dörrar som ser stängda ut och kliv in. Bakom en av dörrarna hittade vi några ivrigt frivilliga som förberedde middagen för kvarterets invånare och gäster. Hade det varit en annan årstid skulle säkert utomhusgrillen (i form av fronten av en bil) varit i full gång. Delad glädje är dubbel glädje så varför inte gå med i kvarterets matkooperativ som köper in ekologiska råvaror i större volymer och säljer till medlemmarna utan påslag. Vi fick dock veta att det lite opraktiskt för oss som bor i Stockholm. Ska också erkänna att vi var lite tveksamma till kooperativets mjölleverantör. Det hembakade brödet som såldes i anslutning hade vissa jäsningsproblem. Efter ett tag behöver man smälta intrycken och då erbjuds kaffe och annat drickbart i kvarterets hål-i-väggen-café. Vad kostar kaffet? Ja det är en bra fråga. Det finns ingen prislista. Alla betalar enligt egen förmåga och godtycke. Det som förundrar oss mest är att Gängeviertel har bästa cityläge. I Stockholm hade ett sådant här område aldrig fått en chans. Dessutom hade fastighetsnämnden, miljöförvaltningen, hälsovårdsmyndigheten, rättsväsendet och diverse andra instanser haft en hel del synpunkter på både interiör och exteriör. I kontrasternas Hamburg är det tvärtom. Här har staden investerat 30 miljoner euro i kvarteret men vi fick ingen riktigt koll på vad pengarna gick till. Helt klart är att en del borde gå till grundrenovering. Efter denna resa har vi fått oss en tankeställare och omvärderat det tyska uttrycket ’ordnung-muss-sein’. Det är säkerligen i Sverige som ordningsbyråkraterna bor. Tack till vår ypperlige guide Tomas som tog oss runt bland rivningskåkarna. Hit hade vi aldrig hittat på egen hand! Adress: Caffamacherreihe i Neustadt, i närheten av Hotel Scandic Emporio Text: Lilian Foto: Teija

loe edasi »

lilian_brunell@hotmail.com

Äta, shoppa, uppleva och bo – allt på gångavstånd

Hotel Baseler Hof ligger på Esplanade 11 och har det perfekta cityläget för en weekend i Hamburg. 4-stjärnigt med gemytlig stämning och hjälpsam personal. Rummen är ganska enkla men stora och funktionella. Den rikliga frukostbuffén serveras i en vardagsrumslik matsal. Lounge med välförsedd bar finns i anslutning till receptionen. www.baselerhof.de Från hotellet är det sedan gångavstånd till shopping, stadsoperan, restauranger, caféer och promenadstråk längs vattnet. Föredrar man kommunala transportmedel ligger U-Bahn Stephansplatz alldeles utanför. Dammtor S-Bahn ligger ca 10 minuter bort. Runt hörnet ligger gågatan Colonnaden med ett flertal restauranger och caféer. Vi testade bl.a. Hamburger Fischerstube, en restaurang i gammaldag stil med vita spetsgardiner och traditionell träinredning. Goda grillade fiskrätter till humant pris. www.hamburger-fischerstube.de Behöver man en fika eller en snabblunch med vin rekommenderas portugisiska Pastelaria Caravela, som ligger en halv trappa ner på Colonnaden 43. Vill man hellre äta en ekologisk, vegetarisk lunch går man till Waku Waku på Dammtorstrasse 29. www.facebook.com/WakuWakuHamburg När man ändå befinner sig på Dammtorstrasse kan vi rekommendera en shoppingrunda på Budnikowsky, eller Bundi som det kallas i folkmun. Det är Hamburgs egen ’chemistry-kedja. Här finns allehanda produkter för kropp och hår, naturpreparat, smink, tvättmedel, vin, kattmat. Med andra ord det mesta. Köp vitaminer och mineralpiller. Det är superbra priser jämfört med Sverige. www.budni.de I samma kvarter, på Kleine Theaterstrasse 10, finns biografen Metropolis Kino. Kolla in programmet för det är här man hittar filmer utanför det ordinarie utbudet och det ordnas ofta olika temaveckor. Inredningen är i 50-talsorginal och bara den värd ett besök. www.metropoliskino.de/index.php?id=29 Hamburgerische Staatsoper grundades redan 1698 och är ett operahus för folket, dvs. den är inte grundad av en kunglighet. Vid denna tidpunkt var det revolutionerande att gemene man fick tillträde till en opera. Musik komponerades i regel för kyrkligt bruk och teologerna lär inte ha varit förtjusta i de folkliga upptåg som operaföreställningarna ansågs vara. Nuvarande operahus ligger på Große Theaterstraße 25 www.hamburgische-staatsoper.de Hamburg har alla möjligheter att bli en ledande turistdestination i Tyskland men vill man locka även utländska turister måste det till en språklig förbättring. I nuläget är det mestadels tysktalande turister i staden och det finns ytterst lite information på engelska eller andra språk. Hamburgs turistorganisation är medveten om problemet och har startat ett projekt där man uppmanar kulturinstitutioner, med flera, att översätta sitt material. Vi hoppas det blir framgångsrikt – det är staden värd. #hamburg #baselerhof #tyskaturistbyrån #hamburgtourismus

loe edasi »

lilian_brunell@hotmail.com

Nattlivet i St. Pauli är som en tysk cocktail

St.Pauli-området, nattetid. Vårt fokus var att kolla in om det verkligen var här som alla festar loss. Oj vad många etablissemang vi hann med tack vare vår kunnige guide Tomas. Variationen på ställena är lika bred som Reeperbahn är lång. Det liknar minst sagt en cocktail på tyskt vis. Efter en trivsam middag på kvarterskrogen Gasthof Möhrchen i stadsdelen Ottensen, Altona, pausade vi i vinterkylan för en drink på Gazoline Bar i samma område. Därefter var vi redo för det Hamburgska nattlivet runtomkring Reeperbahn och dess tvärgator. Gasthof Möhrchen har adress: Spritzenplatz 4 www.gasthof-moehrchen.de Gazoline har adress: Bahrenfelder Straße 132 www.gazoline-bar.de ’Zum Silbersack bei Erna’ är stället du inte trodde fanns. Silbersack är kult och har undgått renoveringar sedan det öppnades på 40-talet. Här är det gästerna bestämmer musiken. Jukeboxen är granne med toaletten och vi nostalgiker frossar i Marlene Dietrich, Demis Roussos, Udo Jürgens och andra tyska storheter. Cigarettröken ligger som en Lützendimma över publiken som sjunger allsång till tyska schlagers. Ja du läste rätt – det verkar vara tillåtet att röka på barerna i Hamburg. Silbersackstraße 9. Ingen hemsida Nästa anhalt var intima ’Haschenschaukel’ med lampor av dockhuvuden och fuskbrasa. Sannolikheten är stor att du får höra ett liveframträdande eftersom baren stöttar lokala band som är i begynnelsen av en framtida karriär. Adress: Silbersackstraße 17 www.hasenschaukel.de ’Onkel Otto’ tilltalar stadens punkare. Musiken, stämningen och miljön avspeglar detta på ett tydligt sätt. Adress: Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 22 www.facebook.com/pages/Onkel-Otto/272158609461504 Betydligt mer trängsel var det på ’The Golden Pudel Club’. Två DJ:s i genrerna hiphop och electro, liveband, litet dansgolv och fallfärdigt hak med hög stämning. Packat med folk och superinne. Symbolisk inträdesavgift. Adress: St. Pauli Fischmarkt 27 www.pudel.com/english.php Symbiosen Lindy Hop och gaybar finns på 'Komet Musik Bar'. Klassiska discohits och pubstämningen i källaren. I gatuplan stuffar dansparen runt till swingepokens slagdängor. Adress: Erichstrasse 11 www.komet-st-pauli.de Ingen kväll i St. Pauli är komplett utan ett showuppträdande. 'Queen Calavera' har nischat in sig på burlesque i litet format. På gränsen till för intimt då scenytan är större än publikyta. Uppträdande varje halvtimme. Inträde 10 euro. Adress: Gerhardstraße 7. Ingen hemsida. Kvällen avslutades på ett storstilat sätt med besök på 'Hotel East Hamburg'. Här härskar stora ytor, lounger i flera våningsplan, utrymmen späckade med designprylar och egen CD-kollektion som spelades i bakgrunden. Markant kontrast till våra tidigare barbesök men föga imponerande. Detta har vi sett förut och trötta som vi var lämnade vi hotellet med en uttråkad gäspning. Adress: Simon-von-Utrecht-Straße 31 www.east-hamburg.de PS: Är man 60+ så kan vi rekommendera 'Faltenrock' i Gängeviertel. På söndag och måndag är det mötesplatsen för alla som gillar boogie, twist, rock`n roll och som klarar åldergränsen. Tyvärr var vi för unga för att bli insläppta. Ingen hemsida men finns på Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Faltenrock-%C3%9C60-Tanzabend/245917842200356 Text: Lilian Foto: Teija

loe edasi »

lilian_brunell@hotmail.com

Shopping in the city

I am continuing my little Berlin report. We planned to go shopping and sightseeing at the weekend with Nóri. Unfortunately, shops in Germany are closed on Sundays so we had to do the shopping part on Saturday... We were walking in the streets in the city centre in the morning and we went into interesting design stores when we spotted them. I like talking to the locals because a lot of nice memories come back in connection with Germany. I was 11 years old when I first spent a longer period of time in summer at a German family. It is funny to think back that I could hardly understand anything from what they were trying to tell me, I was so embarrassed that I answered "Ja" to everything... :) We left the shopping centres to the afternoon where we could really enjoy our shopping mania. We found a Primark shop here, too, well known from London... :) If you ever enter this shop, you will surely leave with more than one shopping bag. :) The sales were still on which meant that we bought almost everything for 3 or 5 Euros. It was the earthly heaven itself, I could hardly stop myself from putting the whole store into my basket. By the end of the day, we got totally exhausted and couldn't wait to relax after these two long days... X x Festy

loe edasi »

festyinstyle@gmail.com

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin - Studio Kaprol fashion show and backstage

I couldn't wait for the second fashion show on Friday because the marketing person of Studio Kaprol contacted me a few weeks ago to ask us to take some photos of their backstage and post them on our blogs. It was a great experience for me to get a glimpse again behind the scenes of an international fashion week. It had only happened to me once on my first fashion week in New York. Then, the series of pleasures continued as we got private VIP seats to the second row among journalists and celebrities from Berlin. I was extremely happy to be able to watch this special show from such proximity. It started with an art movie and then the models walked on the runway in an unusual way, wandering around and staying on the stage. There were more and more of them up there, then they got together and finally brought the designer forward. I found it a really good idea to present these loose street wear clothes in such a creative way. X x Festy

loe edasi »

festyinstyle@gmail.com

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin - Marina Hoermanseder fashion show

I thought that Friday is also worth mentioning and I should make a post about the fashion shows, too. We received standing tickets for Marina Hoermanseder's show so we could see the happenings from upstairs with Nóri. It was ideal to take photos from there because we could see the whole area. I love the feeling when the atmosphere of the fashion week catches me and I watch the creations of different designers with excitement. Marina Hoermanseder, Austrian designer, created an extravagant collection with the patterns of medical aids in the clothes. It was interesting to see a kind of knee machine on a fashion show that I had to wear after my sport accident... xo, Festy

loe edasi »

festyinstyle@gmail.com

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

So many things have happened during a day, it seems that we have been here in Berlin for a week already. We left Budapest in the morning with Nóri Oravecz and we landed in Germany at noon. Our accommodation is in the city centre so we can easily reach everything within 15 minutes. I was really excited because I had never been to Berlin Fashion Week before so I couldn't wait to sit on the shows and learn about German fashion. We were invited to two fashion shows yesterday. At first, we checked the creations of a talented Austrian designer, Marina Hoermanseder. Then, we had the opportunity to look at the backstage of Studio Kaprol, it was the first time I had received a VIP ticket on an international fashion event. We could watch the fashion show from the second row which is a fantastic feeling for a fashion blogger. :) We got an invitation to the closing party at night where we got to know German and Austrian journalists and designers. It was adventurous to get to the party... It took almost an hour to find one of the old factory sites of East-Berlin. The place had a special atmosphere with a ruined brick building, wall paintings and railways tracks. Finally, we found a huge building like a hangar where masked hostesses were welcoming the guests at the end of the red carpet. We entered a large room where the closing ceremony took place. We talked to a lot of fashion professionals, everybody was friendly and kind to us. One of the great advantages of Berlin is that the underground operates all night so you can get home very easily even after midnight. X x Festy

loe edasi »

festyinstyle@gmail.com