In what was once Europe's largest mining city, people always longed for greenery. Parks and gardens were laid out early on. Now there's more green - and disused industrial sites have become places to relax.
Industrial heritage in the Ruhr region, open countryside in Westphalia and a special outlook on life in Cologne: North Rhine-Westphalia is a state of contrasts.
Coal, steel and heavy industry all featured prominently in Essen's past. But now the reinvented Ruhr region hub is showing off its environmental credentials as 2017's European Green Capital. Samantha Early paid a visit.
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