Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrpott's cities, such as Bochum, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen, Duisburg, Essen, and Oberhausen, have grown together to form a large urban area.
All towns and cities in the Ruhrpott have one thing in common: They have successfully transitioned from industry to culture. What has emerged is Europe's densest cultural landscape with 1,000 industrial monuments, 200 museums, 250 festivals, 120 theatres, and three musical theatres. Major international events, such as the Ruhrtriennale arts and music festival, take place across the region and feature some of the most exciting performances currently found on stages and in concert halls anywhere. Visitors traveling through the area will be met with a down-to-earth warmth unlike anywhere else.
Although coal is no longer mined here, blast furnaces, gasometers, and winding towers still dominate the landscape of the Ruhrpott and serve as venues for theatre, music, painting, dance, performance, sport, relaxation, and more. They can be explored in Duisburg-Nord Industrial Landscape Park and along the Route of Industrial Heritage, a 400-km circuit through the Ruhrgebiet that takes in 54 striking monuments to Germany's industrial past and present. One of these monuments is the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Essen named the European Green Capital in 2017. Nature thrives between the many monuments and cultural highlights – proof, if ever it was needed, that there are very few metropolises as surprising as the Ruhrpott.