46% of the 210 km 2 urban area are green areas. In the south, the Grugapark (with Grugahalle) leads to the relaxed residential and villa quarters in the recreation area of the Ruhr Valley (regatta course on the Baldeneysee). In the Emschertalung in the northern part of the city, large recreational areas have been created on the former colliery grounds between the workers’ settlements and industrial plants. In 2010, Essen – representing the entire Ruhr area – was, alongside Pécs and Istanbul, European Capital of Culture.
The minster is the former collegiate church of the empire-direct free worldly women’s monastery; The crypt (“Ostkrypta”, consecrated in 1051; grave place of St. Altfrid) and the westwork with central tower (crowned by an octagonal bell storey; inside the west choir also takes up elements of the Carolingian octagon in the Aachen cathedral complex) have been preserved from the late Tonic building; the nave shows simple Gothic forms. The minster is connected to the Johanniskirche (1471) by an atrium, including the Adveniatkrypta (»Westkrypta«; 1981–83, with concrete reliefs by Emil Wachter); Minster treasure with unique works from the 10th and 11th centuries (including the Golden Madonna, seven-armed chandelier, lecture crosses).
The former Benedictine abbey church of Sankt Liudger (today provost church; burial place of the patron saint) of the imperial abbey founded around 800 (with Carolingian ring crypt, 827-839; Ottonian westwork, consecrated in 943; nave and transept from the middle of the 13th century) are located in Essen-Werden. Century; church treasure) and the parish church of Saint Lucius (consecrated in 1063, reconstructed 1957–59 after profanation; frescoes from the 11th century), in Stoppenberg the former Premonstratensian church from 1073 (baptismal font from the 12th century).
Essen has several examples of modern church construction, including Sankt Nikolaus in Stoppenberg (1906/07; Art Nouveau), Sankt Engelbert, a brick basilica by D. Böhm (1934–36), the Resurrection Church in Huttrop, a central building by O. Bartning (1929–30), Sankt Franziskus by R. Schwarz (1958) and G. Böhm ‘s parish church of the Holy Spirit in Katernberg (1955–58, a tent construction) and Sankt Matthäus (1973–77) in Kettwig. The Old Synagogue (1911–13) is now a memorial; the New Synagogue, a hemispherical building with metal cladding, was built in 1958/59.
Noteworthy buildings of the 20th century are also the opera house (1983-88, design by A. Aalto; opened in 1989) in the immediate vicinity of the hall (since 2004 with a new venue for the Philharmonie) and the administration building of the former Ruhrkohle AG (1956– 60, by E. Eiermann). Important examples of industrial architecture are the Malakoff towers over the Wilhelm shaft in Frillendorf (1847–50) and over the Carl I shaft in Altenessen (1859–61), the Frillendorf water tower (1925, expressionist brick building), but above all the Zollverein colliery with the central shaft system XII (1927–32, by F. Schupp and Martin Kremmer), which has been converted into a cultural center since 1990 (conversion of the boiler house into the domicile of the Design-Zentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen eV by N. Foster, 1995-97) and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001 (together with the start-up shaft 1 / 2/8 and the central coking plant [built 1957–62]). The former “Zollverein School of Management and Design” by the Japanese architecture firm “Sanaa” (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa) was the first new building on the Zollverein coal mine area to be created in 2006 as a minimalist solitaire, which was also its first building in Germany.
The Krupp garden city Margarethenhöhe (1909) was exemplary for housing developments. Borbeck Castle (16th / 17th century) in the Borbeck district is a baroque moated castle and was renovated in the 18th century. The monastery orphanage in Steele, a baroque building from 1765–69 (preserved unchanged), still serves its original purpose. The moated castle Hugenpoet in Kettwig (17th century) is now a hotel. House Oefte, also in Kettwig, got its present appearance mainly in the 19th century. House Baldeney, essentially from the 14th / 15th centuries. Dating back to the 19th century, the reservoir, on the banks of which it has been located since 1933, got its name. The Neue Isenburg ruin (13th century) rises above the Baldeneysee. Schellenberg Castle (oldest part 14th century) is located on a wooded hill above the Ruhr in Rellinghausen.
The nucleus of the city is the women’s monastery for the daughters of the nobility (Astnide, “place in the east”) founded around 852 – in the vicinity of a monastery in Werden in Werden (since 886 imperial monastery). In the 19th century, as an imperial abbey, created a small territory under the direction of its abbess with the rank of imperial duchess (occupied since 1228; construction of the city wall in 1244). The patrons were the Counts of Berg, von der Mark, the Dukes of Jülich-Kleve-Berg and, from 1609, the Margraves of Brandenburg. A settlement for merchants and craftsmen was established in connection with the monastery. Emperor Charles IV granted Essen the desired imperial immediacy in 1377, on the other hand, five years earlier, the abbess was confirmed to rule the country. The council introduced the Reformation in 1563.
There is evidence of coal mining in the Essen area as early as the 14th century. Since the 16th century, Essen has been a center of gunsmithing and weapons production (peak around 1620). In 1670 the city was granted political and economic independence under the sovereignty of the princess. The monastery secularized in 1802/03 fell to Prussia (1806-13 part of the Grand Duchy of Berg).
The three old urban market towns Essen (originally Westendorp, then called Altenessen), Werden and Steele - both incorporated in 1929 – formed the starting point for the large-scale settlement that began around the middle of the 19th century with the sinking of the first mines in the central and northern part of the city. The industrial boom in the 19th century is closely linked to the development of the Krupp works, which spread to the west of the city. The supraregional importance of Essen was secured by the Ruhrhafen (1842) and the connection to the railway network (1872–77). In 1896, Essen became a major city with a population of 100,000. The destruction of the Second World War (1942–45; especially on March 5, 1943) did not diminish Essen’s position in the Ruhr area. In 1986 the last colliery in Essen was closed.