What You Need To Know

Essen  is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Its population of approximately 589,000 (as of 31 March 2016) makes it the ninth-largest city in Germany. It is the central city of the northern (Ruhr) part of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area and seat to several of the region’s authorities. Founded around 845, Essen remained a small town within the sphere of influence of an important ecclesiastical principality (Essen Abbey) until the onset of industrialization. The city then — especially through the Krupp family iron works — became one of Germany’s most important coal and steel centers. Essen, until the 1970s, attracted workers from all over the country; it was the 5th-largest city in Germany between 1929 and 1988, peaking at over 730,000 inhabitants in 1962. Following the region-wide decline of heavy industries in the last decades of the 20th century, the city has seen the development of a strong tertiary sector of the economy. Essen today is seat to 13 of the 100 largest German corporations, including two (by 2016, three) DAX corporations, placing the city second only to Munich and on-par with Frankfurt am Main in number of corporate headquarters. Although it is the (in total) most indebted city in Germany, Essen continues to pursue its redevelopment plans. Notable accomplishments in recent years include the title of European Capital of Culture on behalf of the whole Ruhr area in 2010 and the selection as the European Green Capital for 2017. In 1958, Essen was chosen to serve as the seat to a Roman Catholic diocese (often referred to as Ruhrbistum or diocese of the Ruhr). In early 2003, the universities of Essen and the nearby city of Duisburg (both established in 1972) were merged into the University of Duisburg-Essen with campuses in both cities and a university hospital in Essen.

 

Area: 210.3 km²

Population: 589,000

 

Currency

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  • The Euro is the official currency of Germany and Essen.

City districts

Despite its industrial history, Essen is generally regarded as one of Germany’s greenest cities. The picture shows the borough of Kettwig, annexed in 1975. Essen comprises fifty boroughs which in turn are grouped into nine suburban districts (called Stadtbezirke) often named after the most important boroughs. Each Stadtbezirk is assigned a Roman numeral and has a local body of nineteen members with limited authority. Most of the boroughs were originally independent municipalities but were gradually annexed from 1901 to 1975. This long-lasting process of annexation has led to a strong identification of the population with “their” boroughs or districts and to a rare peculiarity: The borough of Kettwig, located south of the Ruhr River, and which was not annexed until 1975, has its own area code. Additionally (allegedly due to relatively high church tax incomes), the Archbishop of Cologne managed to keep Kettwig directly subject to the Archdiocese of Cologne, whereas all other boroughs of Essen and some neighboring cities constitute the Diocese of Essen.

Coat of arms

 Essen’s coat of arms

 The Handelshof Hotel with modified coat of arms and unofficial motto

The coat of arms of the city of Essen is a heraldic peculiarity. Granted in 1886, it is a so-called Allianzwappen (arms of alliance) and consists of two separate shields under a single crown. Most other coats of arms of cities show a wall instead of a crown. The crown, however, does not refer to the city of Essen itself, but instead to the secularized ecclesiastical principality of Essen under the reign of the princess-abbesses. The dexter (heraldically right) escutcheon shows the double-headed Imperial Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, granted to the city in 1623. The sinister (heraldically left) escutcheon is one of the oldest emblems of Essen and shows a sword that people believed was used to behead the city’s patronSaints Cosmas and Damian. People tend to connect the sword in the left shield with one found in the Cathedral Treasury. This sword, however, is much more recent. A slightly modified and more heraldically correct version of the coat of arms can be found on the roof of the Handelshof hotel near the

 

Language

German is the official language.

Health

Essen offers a highly diversified health care system with more than 1,350 resident doctors and almost 6,000 beds in 13 hospitals, including a university hospital. The university hospital dates back to 1909, when the city council established a municipal hospital; although it was largely destroyed during World War II, it was later rebuilt, and finally gained the title of a university hospital in 1963. It focuses on diseases of the circulatory system (West German Heart Centre Essen), oncology and transplantation medicine, with the department of bone marrow transplantation being the second-largest of its kind in the world.

 

Industry and infrastructure

Major companies based in Essen

Essen is seat to several large companies, among them the ThyssenKrupp industrial conglomerate which is also registered in Duisburg and originates from a 1999 merger between Duisburg-based Thyssen AG and Essen-based Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp. The largest company registered only in Essen is Germany’s second-largest electric utilityRWE AG. Essen also hosts parts of the corporate headquarters of Schenker AG, the logistics division of Deutsche Bahn. Other major companies include Germany’s largest construction company Hochtief AG, as well as Aldi Nord, Evonik Industries, Karstadt, Medion AG and Deichmann, Europe’s largest shoe retailer. The Coca-Cola Company had also originally established their German headquarters in Essen (around 1930), where it remained until 2003, when it was moved to the capital Berlin. In light of the Energy transition in Germany, Germany’s largest electric utilityE.ON announced that, after restructuring and splitting off its conventional electricity generation division (coal, gas, atomic energy), it will also move its headquarters to Essen in 2016, becoming a sole provider of renewable energy. Further the chemical distribution company Brenntag announced to move its headquarter to Essen end of 2017.

Media

The Westdeutscher Rundfunk has a studio in Essen, which is responsible for the central Ruhr area. Each day, it produces a 30-minute regional evening news magazine (called Lokalzeit Ruhr), a 5-minute afternoon news programme, and several radio news programmes. A local broadcasting station went on air in the late 1990s. The WAZ Media Group is one of the most important (print) media companies in Europe and publishes the Ruhr area’s two most important daily newspapers, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ; 580,000 copies) and Neue Ruhr/Rhein Zeitung (NRZ; 180,000 copies). In Essen, the WAZ Group also publishes the local Borbecker Nachrichten (at times Germany’s largest local newspaper) and Werdener Nachrichten, both of which had been independent weekly newspapers for parts of Essen. Additionally, Axel Springer run a printing facility for their boulevard-style daily paper Bild in Essen.

Politics

The administration of Essen had for a long time been in the hands of the princess-abbesses as heads of the Imperial Abbey of Essen. However, from the 14th century onwards, the city council increasingly grew in importance. In 1335, it started choosing two burgomasters, one of whom was placed in charge of the treasury. In 1377, Essen was granted imperial immediacy  but had to abandon this privilege later on. Between the early 15th and 20th centuries, the political system of Essen underwent several changes, most importantly the introduction of the Protestant Reformation in 1563, the annexation of 1802 by Prussia, and the subsequent secularization of the principality in 1803. The territory was made part of the Prussian Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg from 1815 to 1822, after which it became part of the Prussian Rhine Province until its dissolution in 1946. During the German Revolution of 1918–19, Essen was the home of the Essen Tendency (Essener Richtung) within the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany. In 1922 they founded the Communist Workers’ International. Essen became one of the centres of resistance to Social Democracy and the Freikorps alike. During the Nazi era (1933–1945), mayors were installed by the Nazi Party. After World War II, the military government of the British occupation zone installed a new mayor and a municipal constitution modeled on that of British cities. Later, the city council was again elected by the population. The mayor was elected by the council as its head and as the city’s main representative. The administration was led by a full-time Oberstadtdirektor. In 1999, the position of Oberstadtdirektor was abolished in North Rhine-Westphalia and the mayor became both main representative and administrative head. In addition, the population now elects the mayor directly.

 

Transport

The road network of Essen consists of over 3,200 streets, which in total have a length of roughly 1,600 km (994 mi).  As with most communes in the Ruhr area, local transport is carried out by a local, publicly owned company for transport within the city, the DB Regio subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn for regional transport and Deutsche Bahn itself for long-distance journeys. The local carrier, Essener Verkehrs-AG (EVAG), is a member of the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) association of public transport companies in the Ruhr area, which provides a uniform fare structure in the whole region. Within the VRR region, tickets are valid on lines of all members as well as DB’s railway lines (except the high-speed InterCity and Intercity-Express networks) and can be bought at ticket machines and service centres of EVAG, all other members of VRR, and DB.

 

Weather

Essen has a temperate–Oceanic climate with relatively mild winters and cool summers. Its average annual temperature is 10 °C (50 °F): 13.3 °C (56 °F) during the day and 6.7 °C (44 °F) at night. The average annual precipitation is 934 mm (37 in). The coldest month of the year is January, when the average temperature is 2.4 °C (36 °F). The warmest months are July and August, with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F). The record high is 36.6 °C (98 °F) and the record low is −24 °C (−11 °F).