Tradition and future
Learn more about the City Of Cities.
Tradition in change
The Ruhr area, or Ruhrgebiet, is the most densely populated region of Germany, with more than 5.1 million people living in more than 50 municipalities. The big four — Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund — once were the heart and backbone of Germany’s coal and steel industry, a heritage of strength and classic technology. Today, the entire region stands for smart and innovative answers to the big challenges of technical, economic and social change. This is the place where people from all parts of the world come to work,
live and create a better future.
From coal to college and high tech
The Ruhrgebiet has gone through an exemplary transformation from Germany’s blue-collar heartland into one of the country’s most vibrant regions for science and research. Blast furnaces, gasometers and winding towers are visible reminders of a glorious industrial past, and today mainly serve as venues for cultural events. The three UA Ruhr universities have been key to the Ruhr area’s transformation into a role model for structural change. Interdisciplinary academic work, an excellent network of research institutes, and close ties to large corporations and startups reintroduced the entire Ruhr area as a world-class destination for science, research and culture. This led to the city of Dortmund winning the iCapital Award in 2021 as the European Capital of Innovation.
The Ruhrgebiet has one of the world’s most extensive public transportation networks with more than 900 commuter train, subway, light-rail and bus lines, serving more than 10,000 stops. International long-distance and high-speed trains connect the Ruhr area’s cities with other German and European metropolitan regions, and Düsseldorf International Airport serves as a hub to all major destinations, both continental and intercontinental.
Life and landscapes
The 35-mile stretch between Duisburg and Dortmund boasts an unparalleled landscape: The Ruhr area has not only successfully transitioned from heavy industries to science and research, it has also developed into a unique cultural landscape. International events such as the RuhrTriennale, the Ruhr Piano Festival and the Ruhr Theater Festival feature international as well as regional art and artists — mainstream, classic or experimental. Almost everything can be found in the region’s 300-plus museums, venues, parks and theaters.
The Ruhr, Emscher and Lippe waterways — once highly polluted and toxic — are now clean rivers with functioning ecosystems. Along the riverbanks, hiking and biking routes connect the different landscapes of the Ruhrgebiet and serve as lively getaways for weekend trips or romantic boat tours. The Landscape Park Duisburg North is an excellent demonstration of the region’s philosophy to move on without abandoning the past: Steel structures transform into green landmarks with playgrounds, gardens and entertainment.
If there is one thing that stirs up emotions, it is soccer. When the local soccer teams play against one another, streets empty and it suddenly matters whether you are a fan of VfL Bochum or of Borussia Dortmund. Soccer is the most popular sport in the region, but of course there are hundreds of activities that everyone can pursue, from kickboxing to yoga, from car racing to chess, in countless clubs for every age group.