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Published on : Tuesday, May 9, 2017
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.
The change of role from industrial region to cultural melting point 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.
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.
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.