Gelsenkirchen has transformed itself from a small town of coal mines and steel industries into a center of modern technology.
An ex-mining town, Gelsenkirchen thrives on its new economy
Gelsenkirchen is located in the Ruhr region in west central Germany. It is a city known primarily for its coal, iron and steel industries. The city's high furnaces, cokeries and steel plants gave the city the nickname "City of Thousand Fires."
The first documentation of Gelsenkirchen appeared in the twelfth century, but with the discovery of coal in 1840 it grew quickly and with the rapid industrialization in the 19th century it became an important European center for iron and steel production.
Heavy industry eradicated by war and change
In the first half of the following century, the city became a focal point of the wartime economy under the Nazi regime and hence was paid particular attention to by Allied Bomber Command during World War II. With the result that, by the end of the war, about three quarters of the city's homes and public buildings had been destroyed.
The world's biggest solar plant in Gelsenkirchen
The mining industry continued to play a key role as a source of energy and jobs in the years of rebuilding after the war. But the coal crisis in the late 1950's brought about a move from coal and steel-based industry towards the service sector and new technologies like solar power. In the south of the city, the world's largest solar plant was built.
In 1997, the reclaimed Nordstern mine became the site of the National Garden Show and was developed into a leisure area. Many of the town's trademark features are just a couple of minutes' walk from the center. Places to visit include Gelsenkirchen Castle, which was built from 16th – 18th century, the Palace Horst, Palace Berge and the Haus Lüttinghof.
The home of the Royal Blues
FC Schalke 04 have won domestic and European titles throughout their history
Gelsenkirchen is a well-serviced location on the regions various hiking and cycling trails which is indicative of its unique concentration of sporting activities and its long-standing sporting tradition. Soccer has special importance here.
Gelsenkirchen's club FC Schalke04 has enjoyed national and international success and has helped the city to earn a respected name in the world game. The home of the seven times German champions, and the location of the 2004 UEFA Champions League final, will host five matches at the 2006 World Cup.