Gelsenkirchen: House fronts ©AdobeStock (Tupungato)

Inspiring Germany

More than an industrial city

Coal mining is history: the pits have been converted into adventure parks. Today, Gelsenkirchen is a metropolis in the Ruhr region with a rich cultural offering, not least of which is its football culture.

Gelsenkirchen is all about Schalke. Although this was once just the name of a district, today it is synonymous with the city and its football club FC Schalke 04. The team was founded in 1904 and today is one of the most successful traditional clubs in Germany – not to mention one of the largest sports clubs in the world, with 170,000 members. Schalke fans regularly fill the home stadium, the Veltins-Arena, which seats over 60,000 people. Before every kick-off, they can be heard singing the Steigerlied.

Coal heaps as viewpoints

Football is very important in Gelsenkirchen, but it's not everything. The city is part of the metropolitan area of the Ruhr region and has a long history of industrialism, mainly through coal mining. The last pit closed in 2000. Today, the former Rheinelbe and Rungenberg waste tips are lookout points and recreation areas on the "Industrial Heritage Trail".

Nordsternpark is a former pit and was the venue for the 1997 Federal Garden Show. Here, you can learn more about the industrial history of the area, or take in a concert at the amphitheatre. Walk along the breathtaking bridge crossing the Rhine-Herne Canal, which is suspended on two red arches.

Parks and thrilling experiences

A popular place to visit is the moated Berg Palace, located in the Buer district, with its French gardens, the nearby Berger See and fine-dining restaurant. Beside the Graf Bismarck harbour on the Rhine-Herne Canal, which was converted from a mining area to a marina, you'll find the Zoom Erlebniswelt recreation park, with landscapes and animals from Alaska to Africa and Asia.

A visit to Horst Castle and its interactive museum about the Renaissance period is exciting for kids and adults alike. Take a casual stroll or do some shopping near the Urbanuskirche in the Buer district or southeast of the centre along Bochumer Strasse. As in many cities in the Ruhr region, restaurants and pubs serve international dishes and local beers.

Traces of the past

The areas surrounding Gelsenkirchen bear the structural and environmental marks of its heavy industry and mining history. Some areas have become green spaces, others museums, and still others have been transformed into cultural sites. One example is the Gasometer Oberhausen, a 117-metre-tall gas reservoir, which today serves as a exhibition hall and venue. World-renowned artists like Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had their art featured here. Then there's the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, with its distinctive Förderturm XII, an industrial monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is also used for events and exhibitions.