Serving as a major industrial hub throughout Germany’s history, Essen is the largest city on the River Ruhr. It’s home to a fascinating coal mining complex that has been transformed into a vibrant cultural and recreational hub, as well as fine museums and historic architecture.

Spend a day exploring the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, which occupies a UNESCO World Heritage-listed coal mine and its surrounding industrial area. Admire the Bauhaus-influenced architecture of its shaft on a guided tour while learning about the mine’s history and the process of coal extraction.

The complex is home to the Red Dot Design Museum where industrial-influenced contemporary designs are showcased, as well as the Ruhr Museum where you can learn about the natural and cultural history of the Ruhr. Be sure to experi-ence the 360-degree film and interactive displays at the Portal of Industrial Herit-age and explore the historically-rich Shaft 12. Sprawling around the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex’s museums are a winter ice-skating rink, a Ferris wheel and a network of picturesque walking and cycling trails.

Another museum not to miss is the Museum Folkwang, which boasts an out-standing collection of 19th and 20th-century paintings housed within a striking building. It lies a short subway ride from the Grugapark in the south of Essen that features a Botanic Garden exhibiting plants from around the world, as well as an observation tower and a narrow-gauge railway known as the Grugabahn.

One of the city’s most prominent landmarks is the Essen Minster, which was es-tablished in the 9th century and stands as one of Germany’s oldest cathedrals. Admire its bronze candelabrum and Golden Madonna that date to around 1000BC, then visit the adjacent Bishop’s Palace where an outstanding collection of religious art and artifacts are exhibited.