Gelsenkirchen, like neighboring cities, is refining its image to promote its industrial culture. Old coal mines and refineries have been remodeled into event halls and ice skating rinks. Beautiful bike paths now lie where old rail lines ran. Art from old machines is a source of artistic expression.

By the early 20th century, Gelsenkirchen could lay a legitimate claim to being the most important coal mining town in Europe, leading it to be given the nickname “city of a thousand fires.” No coal mines remain in the city, but Gelsenkirchen continues to trade on its industrial heritage. Visit the former industrial park at Nordsternpark to get a sense of this commercial past while also enjoying the varied attractions now on offer, including walking trails along the canal, an open-air theater, rock climbing walls, and a children’s play area. Alternatively, take a trip to the Berge Castle if you head back in time beyond the Industrial Revolution and further into the town's history. Built-in the thirteenth century, the fortification expanded in the 1780s. The castle now hosts various events, such as concerts and a traditional summer festival held every July.

Popular with families and younger visitors, ZOOM Erlebniswelt is Gelsenkirchen’s interactive zoo, offering a unique experience for all ages. The exhibits are split into three sections—Africa, Asia, and Alaska—and provide a genuine taste of the atmosphere in these habitats. Elsewhere around town, you’ll find a variety of remarkable green spaces, with city parks, playgrounds, gardens, and ponds. In the more built-up town center, you can also stroll through the Revierpark and Stadtgarten. Gelsenkirchen’s favorite professional soccer team, Schalke 04, regularly plays in front of 60,000 fans at the Veltins-Arena. The stadium has become renowned as one of the most modern in Europe since it was opened in 2001. Join the passionate fans in the Nordkurve section on game day, or check the calendar of pop concerts, operas, and motorbike races that also take place there. You can also visit the museum, with exhibits detailing the club's history, and even take a tour through the ground.

With Gelsenkirchen, the industrial heritage is just part of the story.