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Ruhr Metropolis
Metropole Ruhr
Regionalverband Ruhr Logo 2017.svg
Locator map RVR in Germany.svg
Map of the Ruhr within Germany
Coordinates: 51°30′N7°30′E / 51.500°N 7.500°E / 51.500; 7.500 Coordinates: 51°30′N7°30′E / 51.500°N 7.500°E / 51.500; 7.500
CountryFlag of Germany.svg  Germany
State Flag of North Rhine-Westphalia.svg  North Rhine-Westphalia
Largest cities
  BodyRegionalverband Ruhr
4,435 km2 (1,712 sq mi)
Highest elevation
441 m (1,447 ft)
Lowest elevation
13 m (43 ft)
  Urban density1,646/km2 (4,260/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
GRP 161 billion [1]

The Ruhr ( /ˈrʊər/ ROOR; German : Ruhrgebiet [ˈʁuːɐ̯ɡəˌbiːt] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), also Ruhrpott [ˈʁuːɐ̯pɔt] ), also referred to as the Ruhr area, sometimes Ruhr district, Ruhr region, or Ruhr valley, is a polycentric urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. [lower-alpha 1] With a population density of 2,800/km2 and a population of over 5 million (2017), [2] it is the largest urban area in Germany. It consists of several large cities bordered by the rivers Ruhr to the south, Rhine to the west, and Lippe to the north. In the southwest it borders the Bergisches Land. It is considered part of the larger Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region of more than 10 million people, which is the third largest in Europe, behind only London and Paris.


The Ruhr cities are, from west to east: Duisburg, Oberhausen, Bottrop, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Herne, Hagen, Dortmund, Lünen, Bergkamen, Hamm and the districts of Wesel, Recklinghausen, Unna and Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis. The most populous cities [3] are Dortmund (with a population of approximately 588,000), Essen (about 583,000) and Duisburg (about 497,000).

In the Middle Ages, the Hellweg was an important trade route from the region of the Lower Rhine to the mountains of the Teutoburg Forest. The most important towns of the region from Duisburg to the imperial city of Dortmund were concentrated along the Hellweg from the Rhineland to Westphalia. Since the 19th century, these cities have grown together into a large complex with a vast industrial landscape, inhabited by some 7.3 million people (including Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, large cities that are nearby but officially not part of the Ruhr area).

The Ruhr area has no administrative centre; each city in the area has its own administration, although there exists the supracommunal "Regionalverband Ruhr" institution in Essen. For 2010, the Ruhr region was one of the European Capitals of Culture. [4] [5]


Map of the Ruhr area; in Green is a stricter or narrower definition of the Ruhr, comprising municipalities that are members of the Ruhr regional institution Ruhr area-map.png
Map of the Ruhr area; in Green is a stricter or narrower definition of the Ruhr, comprising municipalities that are members of the Ruhr regional institution

The urban landscape of the Ruhr extends from the Lower Rhine Basin east to the Westphalian Plain and south to the hills of the Rhenish Massif. Through the centre of the Ruhr runs a segment of the loess belt that extends across Germany from west to east. Historically, this loess belt has underlain some of Germany's richest agricultural regions.

Geologically, the region is defined by coal-bearing layers from the upper Carboniferous period. The coal seams reach the surface in a strip along the river Ruhr and dip downward from the river to the north. Beneath the Lippe, the coal seams lie at a depth of 600 to 800 metres (2,000 to 2,600 feet). The thickness of the coal layers ranges from one to three metres (three to ten feet). This geological feature played a decisive role in the development of coal mining in the Ruhr.

According to the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR, Ruhr Regional Association), 37.6% of the region's area is built up. A total of 40.7% of the region's land remains in agricultural use. Forests account for 17.6%, and bodies of water and other types of land use occupy the rest. The inclusion of four mainly rural districts in the otherwise mainly industrial Ruhr helps to explain the large proportion of agricultural and forested land. In addition, the city boroughs of the Ruhr region have outlying districts with a rural character.

Seen on a map, the Ruhr could be considered a single city, since—at least in the north–south dimension—there are no visible breaks between the individual city boroughs. Thus the Ruhr is described as a polycentric urban area, which shares a similar history of urban and economic development.

Because of its history, the Ruhr is structured differently from monocentric urban regions such as Berlin, which developed through the rapid absorption of smaller towns and villages by the most significant city among them. Instead in the Ruhr, the individual city boroughs and urban districts of the Ruhr grew in a rapid and parallel fashion independently of one another during the Industrial Revolution. The population density of the central Ruhr is about 2,100 inhabitants per square kilometre (about 5,400 per square mile)—not too high compared to other German cities.

Between the constituent urban areas are relatively open suburbs and even some open land with agricultural fields. In many places however, the borders between cities in the central Ruhr are unrecognizable, blending into one urban landscape due to continuous development across them.

The replanting of brownfield land has created new parks and recreation areas in recent decades. The Emscher Landschaftspark (Emscher Landscape Park) lies along the river Emscher, formerly virtually an open sewer, parts of which have undergone natural restoration. This park connects strips of parkland running from north to south, which were developed through regional planning in the 1920s, to form a green belt between the Ruhr cities from east to west.


Gamete of Dortmund, old market square with St. Reinold's Church Alte Markt Dortmund.JPG
Gamete of Dortmund, old market square with St. Reinold's Church

During the Middle Ages, much of the region that was later called the Ruhrgebiet was situated in the County of Mark, the Duchies of Cleves and Berg and the territories of the bishop of Münster and the archbishop of Cologne. The region included some villages and castles, and was mainly agrarian: its loess soil made it one of the richer parts of western Germany. The free imperial city of Dortmund was the trading and cultural centre, lying on the Hellweg, an important east–west trading route, that also brought prosperity to the town of Duisburg. Both towns were members of the Hanseatic League.

Industrial revolution

The development of the region into an urbanized industrial area started in the late 18th century with the early industrialisation in the nearby Wupper Valley in the Bergisches Land. By around 1820, hundreds of water-powered mills were producing textiles, lumber, shingles and iron in automated processes here. And in even more workshops in the hills, highly skilled workers manufactured knives, tools, weapons and harnesses, using water, coal and charcoal. History has no established name for this phase of the industrial revolution, but one could call it the early water-powered industrial revolution.[ citation needed ]

As the machines became bigger and moved from water power to steam power, locally mined coal and charcoal became expensive and there was not enough of it. The Bergische industry ordered more and more coal from the new coal mining area along the Ruhr. [6] Impressive and expensive railways were constructed through the hilly Wupper region, to bring coal, and later steel, in from the Ruhr, and for outward transport of finished products. [7]

Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001 Zeche Zollverein abends.jpg
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001
Zeche Zollern in Dortmund Dortmund Zollern IMGP0620.jpg
Zeche Zollern in Dortmund

By 1850, there were almost 300 coal mines in operation in the Ruhr area, in and around the central cities of Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund. The coal was exported or processed in coking ovens into coke, used in blast furnaces, producing iron and steel. In this period the name Ruhrgebiet became common. Before the coal deposits along the Ruhr were exhausted, the mining industry moved northward to the Emscher and finally to the Lippe, drilling ever deeper mines as it went. Locks built at Mülheim on the Ruhr led to the expansion of Mülheim as a port. With the construction of the Cologne-Minden railway in the late 19th century, several iron works were built within the borders of the present-day city of Oberhausen.

Moreover, the urbanization also boosted the expansion of railroad connections. At the beginning of the 1880s, agricultural regions did not benefit from the newly built transport facilities as much as non-agricultural regions did. This in its turn increased inequality, and made anthropometric measurements, e.g. height, more dependent on wages. In the long run, however, effects of the railroad proximity diminished. [8]

Consequently, the population climbed rapidly. Towns with only 2000 to 5000 people in the early 19th century grew in the following 100 years to over 100,000. Skilled mineworkers were recruited from other regions to the Ruhr's mines and steel mills and unskilled people started to move in. From 1860 onwards there was large-scale migration from Silesia, Pomerania, East Prussia and Posen to the Ruhr. Many of them were Polish speakers and they were treated as second class citizens. In 1899 this led to a revolt in Herne of young Polish workers, who later established a Workers' Union. Skilled workers in the mines were often housed in "miners' colonies", built by the mining firms. By 1870, over 3 million people lived in the Ruhrgebiet and the new coal-mining district had become the largest industrial region of Europe. [9]

During World War I the Ruhrgebiet functioned as Germany's central weapon factory. At a big Essen company, F. Krupp A.G., the number of employees rose from 40,000 to 120,000 or more, in four years. They were partly women, partly forced labourers.[ citation needed ]

Weimar Republic

The Spartacist Uprising in 1919, which originated in Berlin, became popular among the working class in the Ruhr, and the region quickly adopted Marxism. The uprising was defeated by the Freikorps in less than a week, and the Weimar Republic established control over the Ruhr. The Kapp Putsch occurred in March 1919, when autocrats attempted to overthrow the Weimar government. The Weimar government defeated the putsch, albeit it advocated a general strike, which large parts of the working class participated in. The general strike effectively ended the Kapp government, but in the Ruhr, striking workers successfully managed to take government buildings in March 1920 shocking the rest of Germany. An armed revolt was then instigated, and the Red Guard installed a branch in the Ruhr. This became known as the Ruhr Uprising. The workers councils that led the uprising declared the Ruhr to be a socialist republic, but the Freikorps and Reichswehr put down the rebellion in April 1919, and re-established the Weimar Republic's control of the Ruhr.

In March 1921, French and Belgian troops occupied Duisburg, which under the Treaty of Versailles formed part of the demilitarized Rhineland. In January 1923 the whole Ruhrgebiet was occupied as a reprisal after Germany failed to fulfill World War I reparation payments as agreed in the Versailles Treaty. The German government responded with "passive resistance", letting workers and civil servants refuse orders and instructions by the occupation forces. Production and transport came to a standstill and the financial consequences contributed to German hyperinflation and ruined public finances in Germany and France, as well as several other countries. Passive resistance was called off in late 1923, allowing Germany to implement a currency reform and to negotiate the Dawes Plan, which led to the withdrawal of the French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr in 1925. However, the occupation of the Ruhr caused several direct and indirect consequences on the German economy and government. Due to the lack of production caused by foreign occupation, the German economy lacked the domestic abilities to pay war reparations without intentionally causing inflation. Moreover, the government became increasingly unpopular due to its "passive resistance" to German production. The halt in domestic production made war reparations impossible to pay.

Nazi period

On 7 March 1936, [10] Adolf Hitler took a massive gamble by sending 30,000 troops into the Rhineland. As Hitler and other Nazis admitted, the French army alone could have destroyed the Wehrmacht. [11] The French passed the problem to the British, who found that the Germans had the right to "enter their own backyard", and no action was taken. [12] In the League of Nations, the Soviet delegate Maxim Litvinov was the only one who proposed economic sanctions against Germany. [10] [12] All restraint on German rearmament was now removed. France's eastern allies (the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia) concluded that since the French refused to defend their own border, they certainly would not stand up for their allies in the East. Hitler could now continue eroding the alliance system that France had built since 1919. [13] On 16 October 1936, Belgium repudiated the 1921 alliance with France and declared its absolute neutrality. [14] In October 1937, Belgium signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. [15]

WWII Ruhr Bombing Operations
1943 March-July: Battle of the Ruhr
1943 May: Operation Chastise
1944 October: Operation Hurricane
1944 September: Bombing of German oil
facilities during World War II

During World War II, the bombing of the Ruhr in 1940–1944 caused a loss of 30% of plant and equipment (compared to 15–20% for German industry as a whole). [16] A second battle of the Ruhr (6/7 October 1944 – end of 1944) began with an attack on Dortmund. The devastating bombing raids of Dortmund on 12 March 1945 with 1,108 aircraft – 748 Lancasters, 292 Halifaxes, 68 Mosquitos – was a record to a single target in the whole of World War II. More than 4,800 tons of bombs were dropped through the city centre and the south of the city. [17] [18]

In addition to the strategic bombing of the Ruhr, in April 1945, the Allies trapped several hundred thousand Wehrmacht troops in the Ruhr Pocket.

View of the redeveloped Duisburg Inner Harbour in 2010 Innenhafen Duisburg.jpg
View of the redeveloped Duisburg Inner Harbour in 2010

Postwar period

After the war, the region fell within the British occupation zone, and Level of Industry plans for Germany abolished all German munitions factories and civilian industries that could support them and severely restricted civilian industries of military potential. The Ruhr Authority, an international body to regulate the Ruhr's coal and steel industries, was created as a condition for the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany. [19]

During the Cold War, the Western allies anticipated that any Red Army thrust into Western Europe would begin in the Fulda Gap and have the Ruhr as a primary target. Increased German control of the area was limited by the pooling of German coal and steel into the multinational European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. The nearby Saar region, containing much of Germany's remaining coal deposits, was handed over to economic administration by France as a protectorate in 1947 and did not politically return to Germany until January 1957, with economic reintegration occurring two years later. Parallel to the question of political control of the Ruhr, the Allies tried to decrease German industrial potential by limitations on production and dismantling of factories and steel plants, predominantly in the Ruhr. By 1950, after the virtual completion of the by-then much watered-down "level of industry" plans, equipment had been removed from 706 manufacturing plants in the west, and steel production capacity had been reduced by 6.7 million tons. [20] Dismantling finally ended in 1951. In all, less than 5% of the industrial base was dismantled. [21]

The Ruhr was at the centre of the German economic miracle Wirtschaftswunder of the 1950s and 1960s, as very rapid economic growth (9% a year) created a heavy demand for coal and steel.

After 1973, Germany was hard hit by a worldwide economic crisis, soaring oil prices, and increasing unemployment, which jumped from 300,000 in 1973 to 1.1 million in 1975. The Ruhr region was hardest hit, as the easy-to-reach coal mines became exhausted, and German coal was no longer competitive. Likewise the Ruhr steel industry went into sharp decline, as its prices were undercut by lower-cost suppliers such as Japan. The welfare system provided a safety net for the large number of unemployed workers, and many factories reduced their labor force and began to concentrate on high-profit specialty items. [22] [23]

As demand for coal decreased after 1958, the area went through phases of structural crisis (see steel crisis) and industrial diversification, first developing traditional heavy industry, then moving into service industries and high technology. The air and water pollution of the area are largely a thing of the past although some issues take a long time to solve. [24] [25] In 2005, Essen [26] was the official candidate for nomination as European Capital of Culture for 2010.


The 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica has only one definition of "Ruhr": "a river of Germany, an important right-bank tributary of the lower Rhine". The use of the term "Ruhr" for the industrial region started in Britain only after World War I, when French and Belgian troops had occupied the Ruhr district and seized its prime industrial assets in lieu of unpaid reparations in 1923. In 1920, the International Labour Office published a report entitled Coal Production in the Ruhr District. In 1923, the Canadian Commercial Intelligence Journal, Volume 28, Issue 1013, includes the article, "Exports from the Ruhr district of Germany". In 1924 the English and American press was still talking of the "French occupation of the Ruhr Valley" or "Ruhr District". A 62-page publication seems to be responsible for the use of "Ruhr" as a short form of the then more common "Ruhr District" or "Ruhr Valley": Ben Tillett, A. Creech-Jones and Samuel Warren's The Ruhr: The Report of a Deputation from the Transport and General Workers Union (London 1923). Yet "The report of a deputation from the Transport and General Workers' Union which spent a fortnight examining the problems in the Ruhr Valley", published in The Economic Review, Volume 8, 1923, is still using the traditional term. In the same year, "Objections by the United States to discriminatory regulations on exports from the occupied region of the Ruhr" was published in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States.

The 1926 Encyclopædia Britannica, in addition to its article on the river Ruhr, has a further article on "RUHR, the name given to a district of Westphalia, Germany". Thus the name "Ruhr" was given to the region (as a short form of "Ruhr District" or "Ruhr Valley") only a few years before the publication of this edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Even after World War II, the term "Ruhr" may not have been in general use for the region: it was defined in Documents on American Foreign Relations (1948): "For the purposes of the present Agreement: (i) the expression 'Ruhr' means the areas, as presently constituted, in Land North Rhine–Westphalia, listed in the Annex to this Agreement." [27] However, Lawrence K. Cecil and Philip Hauge Abelson still write in 1967: "In the first place, the average person uses the term 'Ruhr' indiscriminately as the Ruhr River or the Ruhr district, two entirely different things. The Ruhr River is only one of half a dozen rivers in the Ruhr district, in addition to the Rhine. The Rhine itself runs through the heart of the Ruhr district." [28] According to Merriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary, a standard reference on place names around the world, the name "Ruhr" refers to the river. The name preferred for the region in this dictionary is "Ruhrgebiet", followed by "Ruhr Valley".


The Ruhr has an oceanic climate in spite of its inland position, with winds from the Atlantic travelling over the lowlands to moderate temperature extremes, in spite of its relatively northerly latitude that sees significant variety in daylight hours. A consequence of the marine influence is a cloudy and wet climate with low sunshine hours. Summers normally average in the low 20s, with winters being somewhat above the freezing point.

From the onset of the 21st century, the effects of global warming have become more profound. The area has been affected by severe droughts (like 2018), heat waves with temperatures above 40.0 °C (104.0 °F) (2019) [29] and severe weather events like the bow echo that hit the cities on June 9, 2014, and caused tens of thousands of trees to fall [30] which was publicly dubbed the "Pfingststurm" (German for "Whitsun storm"). Winters have become more mild which poses a risk for crops such as apples whose blooms are vulnerable to late freezes if bud break happens too early.

Climate data for Essen
Average high °C (°F)4.5
Daily mean °C (°F)2.4
Average low °C (°F)0.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)84.5
Average precipitation days14.110.513.611.
Average relative humidity (%)83827875747678807981828079
Mean monthly sunshine hours 43.478.3102.3147.0192.2183.0186.0182.9135.0111.657.040.31,459
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN), [31] Hong Kong Observatory [32] for data of sunshine hours


The ten largest cities of the Ruhr:

Pos.NamePop. 2020Area (km2)Pop. per km2map
1 Dortmund 587,696280.372,071 Ruhr area-administration.png
2 Essen 582,415210.382,733
3 Duisburg 495,885232.812,154
4 Bochum 364,454145.432,652
5 Gelsenkirchen 259,105104.862,557
6 Oberhausen 209,56677.042,841
7 Hagen 188,687160.361,228
8 Hamm 178,967226.24814
9 Mülheim an der Ruhr 170,92191.281,872
10 Herne 156,94051.413,100
Dortmund is the largest city of the Ruhr Dortmund Panorama.jpg
Dortmund is the largest city of the Ruhr
Essen is the second largest city of the Ruhr Essen Panorama.jpg
Essen is the second largest city of the Ruhr

The local dialect of German is commonly called Ruhrdeutsch or Ruhrpottdeutsch, although there is really no uniform dialect that justifies designation as a single dialect. It is rather a working-class sociolect with influences from the various dialects found in the area and changing even with the professions of the workers. A major common influence stems from the coal mining tradition of the area. For example, quite a few locals prefer to call the Ruhr either "Pott", which is a derivate of "Pütt" (pitmen's term for mine; cp. the English "pit"), or "Revier".

During the nineteenth century, the Ruhr attracted up to 500,000 ethnic Poles, Masurians and Silesians from East Prussia and Silesia in a migration known as Ostflucht (flight from the east). By 1925, the Ruhrgebiet had around 3,800,000 inhabitants. Most of the new inhabitants came from Eastern Europe, but immigrants also came from France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It has been claimed that immigrants came to the Ruhr from over 140 countries. Almost all their descendants today speak German as a first language, and for various reasons, they do not identify with their Polish roots and traditions, often their Polish family names only remain as a sign of their past.


Opera Dortmund Dortmund Oper Kaufmann.jpg
Opera Dortmund
Grillo-Theater Essen Grillo-Theater-2012.jpg
Grillo-Theater Essen
Ostwall Museum at U-Tower Dortmund Dortmunder Unionbrauerei.jpg
Ostwall Museum at U-Tower Dortmund

The Industrial Heritage Trail (German : Route der Industriekultur) links tourist attractions related to the European Route of Industrial Heritage in the Ruhr area.

Ruhr is known for its numerous cultural institutions, many of which enjoy international reputation. Ruhr has three major opera houses and more than 10 theaters and stages.

There are special classical music halls like the Bochumer Symphoniker, the Duisburg Mercatorhalle, the Saalbau Essen or the Dortmunder Philharmoniker. Each year in spring time, there is the Klavier-Festival Ruhr in the Ruhr area with 50 to 80 events of classical and jazz music.

With more than 50 museums, Ruhr has one of the largest variety of museums in Europe.

Industrial Museum

The city of Essen (representing the Ruhr) was selected as European Capital of Culture for 2010 by the Council of the European Union.

In association football, the Revierderby is the rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04, and to a lesser extent between either club and/or VfL Bochum, MSV Duisburg or Rot-Weiss Essen (kleines Revierderby).


Chinese Garden of the Ruhr University in Bochum 570 Im Chinesischen Garten.JPG
Chinese Garden of the Ruhr University in Bochum
Dortmund University's Mathetower Mathetower TU Dortmund.jpg
Dortmund University's Mathetower

With 22 universities and colleges and more than 250,000 [33] students, the Ruhr region has the highest density of further education establishments anywhere in Germany. These include five universities alone in the cities of Bochum, Duisburg, Dortmund, Essen and Witten. In addition, Folkwang University of the Arts is an internationally acclaimed art college with its base in the Ruhr region. Furthermore, the universities are not the only places in the Ruhr region where academic qualifications can be obtained. There are 17 different universities of applied sciences which offer students to have the opportunity to undertake practice-relevant and qualified studies in various subjects, such as economics, logistics, administration or management. [34]


The Ruhr area has 5 major universities in 6 cities with about 120,000 students.

UA Ruhr

The three largest universities (Ruhr University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, and the University of Duisburg-Essen) opened an alliance called "UA Ruhr". Students enrolled at one of the UA Ruhr universities can attend lectures and seminars at all three institutions without having to pay a visiting student fee. Consequently, they have many options to specialize in and to explore their chosen disciplines in depth. The UA Ruhr has three liaison offices for interested students in New York City, Moscow and São Paulo.

Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts


  • Bochum University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule Bochum, formerly Fachhochschule Bochum)
  • Georg Agricola University of Applied Sciences (TH Georg Agricola)
  • Protestant University of Applied Sciences, Rheinland-Westphalia-Lippe (Evangelische FH Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe)
  • Schauspielschule Bochum (Bochum drama school)
  • College of the Federal Social Security, Department of Social Insurance for Miners, Railway Employees and Seafarers (Fachhochschule des Bundes der Sozialversicherung, Abteilung Knappschaft-Bahn-See)
  • University of Health Sciences (Hochschule für Gesundheit)


  • Hochschule Ruhr West


Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts FH-Design-Dortmu 2190.JPG
Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts
  • Fachhochschule Dortmund
  • FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management, Standort Dortmund (Academy for management)
  • Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Academy for public administration)
  • International School of Management (Private academy focussing on management and economics)
  • IT-Center Dortmund (Private college)


  • FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie und Management (Academy for management)
  • Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung (Academy for public administration)


Main building of the Folkwang University in Essen-Werden Essen Kloster Werden Innenhof 2 2005.jpg
Main building of the Folkwang University in Essen-Werden
  • FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie und Management
  • Hochschule für bildende Künste
  • Orchesterzentrum NRW


  • Westfälische Hochschule
  • Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung NRW (Academy for public administration)



  • SRH Hochschule für Logistik und Wirtschaft
  • Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt


Mülheim an der Ruhr

  • Hochschule Ruhr West
  • Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung NRW (Academy for public administration)


  • Westfälische Hochschule


  • Hochschule Campus Unna


Public transport

With the exception of public transport companies serving Hamm and Kreis Unna, all such companies in the Ruhr region are run under the umbrella of the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr, which provides a uniform ticket system valid for the entire area. The Ruhr region is well-integrated into the national rail system, the Deutsche Bahn, for both passenger and goods services, each city in the region has at least one or more train stations. The bigger central stations have hourly direct connections to the bigger European cities as Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Vienna or Zürich.

The Ruhr area also contains the longest tram system in the world, with tram and Stadtbahn services from Witten to Krefeld as well as the Rhine-Ruhr S-Bahn network. Originally the system was even bigger, it was possible to travel from Unna to Bad Honnef without using railway or bus services.

Road transport

The Ruhr has one of the densest motorway networks in all of Europe, with dozens of Autobahns and similar Schnellstraßen (expressways) crossing the region. The Autobahn network is built in a grid network, with four east–west (A2, A40, A42, A44) and seven north–south (A1, A3, A43, A45, A52, A57, A59) routes. The A1, A2 and A3 are mostly used by through traffic, while the other autobahns have a more regional function.

Both the A44 and the A52 have several missing links, in various stages of planning. Some missing sections are currently in construction or planned to be constructed in the near future.

Additional expressways serve as bypasses and local routes, especially around Dortmund and Bochum. Due to the density of the autobahns and expressways, Bundesstraßen are less important for intercity traffic. The first Autobahns in the Ruhr opened during the mid-1930s. Due to the density of the network, and the number of alternative routes, traffic volumes are generally lower than other major metropolitan areas in Europe. Traffic congestion is an everyday occurrence, but far less so than in the Randstad in the Netherlands, another polycentric urban area. Most important Autobahns have six lanes, but there are no eight-lane Autobahns in the Ruhr.

Air transport

Düsseldorf Airport is the intercontinental airport for North Rhine-Westphalia and is within 20 km of most of the Western Ruhr area. It is served by the Düsseldorf Flughafen and Düsseldorf Flughafen Terminal railway stations, with its several parking lots, terminals and stations being connected by the Skytrain .

Dortmund Airport in the Eastern Ruhr is a mid-sized airport, offering scheduled flights to domestic and European destinations and its approximately 1.9 million passengers in 2013. Dortmund Airport is served by an express bus to Dortmund main station, a shuttle bus to the nearby railway station Holzwickede/Dortmund Flughafen, a bus connecting to Stadtbahn line U47, as well as a bus to the city of Unna.

See also


  1. Other colloquial names that are used include Ruhrpott, Revier or Kohlenpott.
    • "The Heavy Industrial Belt' is commonly, though inaccurately, referred to as the Ruhr. This is a belt of low and level land on the northern edge of the uplands, known as the Sauerland through which flows the Ruhr from east to west" (Dickinson 1945, p. 70).
    • "Few foreigners know that in fact 'the Ruhr' is the name of a 150-mile-long Rhine right-bank tributary which, after meandering through the industrial basin now named after it, enters its parent near Europe's greatest inland port, Duisburg" (GI staff 1966, p. 30).
    • "The territory through which the Ruhr flows is called the Ruhr district" (Osmańczyk & Mango, p. 1970).
    • "Many industries were built in the Ruhr region, where both iron ore and coal were found" (Lane 2001, p. 24).

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The Ruhr is a river in western Germany, a right tributary (east-side) of the Rhine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duisburg</span> City in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Duisburg is a city in the Ruhr metropolitan area of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Lying on the confluence of the Rhine and the Ruhr rivers in the center of the Rhine-Ruhr Region, Duisburg is the 5th largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia and the 15th-largest city in Germany.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dortmund</span> City in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Dortmund is the third-largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne and Düsseldorf, and the eighth-largest city of Germany, with a population of 588,250 inhabitants as of 2021. It is the largest city of the Ruhr, Germany's largest urban area with some 5.1 million inhabitants, as well as the largest city of Westphalia. On the Emscher and Ruhr rivers, it lies in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region and is considered the administrative, commercial, and cultural center of the eastern Ruhr. Dortmund is the second-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Essen</span> City in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Essen is the central and, after Dortmund, second-largest city of the Ruhr, the largest urban area in Germany. Its population of 582,415 makes it the fourth-largest city of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund, as well as the ninth-largest city of Germany. Essen lies in the larger Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region and is part of the cultural area Rhineland. Because of its central location in the Ruhr, Essen is often regarded as the Ruhr's "secret capital". Two rivers flow through the city: in the north, the Emscher, the Ruhr area's central river, and in the south, the Ruhr River, which is dammed in Essen to form the Lake Baldeney (Baldeneysee) and Lake Kettwig reservoirs. The central and northern boroughs of Essen historically belong to the Low German (Westphalian) language area, and the south of the city to the Low Franconian (Bergish) area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bochum</span> City in Germany

Bochum is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia. With a population of 364,920 (2016), is the sixth largest city of the most populous German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the 16th largest city of Germany. On the Ruhr Heights (Ruhrhöhen) hill chain, between the rivers Ruhr to the south and Emscher to the north, it is the second largest city of Westphalia after Dortmund, and the fourth largest city of the Ruhr after Dortmund, Essen and Duisburg. It lies at the centre of the Ruhr, Germany's largest urban area, in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, and belongs to the region of Arnsberg. Bochum is the sixth largest and one of the southernmost cities in the Low German dialect area. There are nine institutions of higher education in the city, most notably the Ruhr University Bochum, one of the ten largest universities in Germany, and the Bochum University of Applied Sciences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gelsenkirchen</span> City in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Gelsenkirchen is the 25th most populous city of Germany and the 11th most populous in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with 262,528 (2016) inhabitants. On the Emscher River, it lies at the centre of the Ruhr, the largest urban area of Germany, of which it is the fifth largest city after Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg and Bochum. The Ruhr is located in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, one of Europe's largest urban areas. Gelsenkirchen is the fifth largest city of Westphalia after Dortmund, Bochum, Bielefeld and Münster, and it is one of the southernmost cities in the Low German dialect area. The city is home to the football club Schalke 04, which is named after Gelsenkirchen-Schalke. The club's current stadium Veltins-Arena, however, is located in Gelsenkirchen-Erle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhine-Ruhr</span> Urban area in Germany

The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region is the largest metropolitan region in Germany, with over ten million inhabitants. A polycentric conurbation with several major urban concentrations, the region covers an area of 7,268 square kilometres (2,806 sq mi), entirely within the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region spreads from the Ruhr area (Dortmund-Essen-Duisburg-Bochum) in the north to the urban areas of the cities of Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Leverkusen, Cologne, and Bonn in the south. The location of the Rhine-Ruhr at the heart of the European Blue Banana makes it well connected to other major European cities and metropolitan areas such as the Randstad, the Flemish Diamond and the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr</span> Transit district in the Rhein-Ruhr area, Germany

The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr, abbreviated VRR, is a public transport association (Verkehrsverbund) in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It covers most of the Ruhr area, as well as neighbouring parts of the Lower Rhine region, including Düsseldorf and thus large parts of the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation. It was founded on 1 January 1980, and is Europe’s largest body of such kind, covering an area of some 5,000 km2 (1,900 sq mi) with more than 7.8 million inhabitants, spanning as far as Dorsten in the north, Dortmund in the east, Langenfeld in the south, and Mönchengladbach and the Dutch border in the west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Technical University of Dortmund</span> University in Dortmund, Germany

TU Dortmund University is a technical university in Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany with over 35,000 students, and over 6,000 staff including 300 professors, offering around 80 Bachelor's and master's degree programs. It is situated in the Ruhr area, the fourth largest urban area in Europe. The university is highly ranked in terms of its research performance in the areas of physics, electrical engineering, chemistry and economics. The university pioneered the Internet in Germany, and contributed to machine learning.

The RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Essen is an independent economic research institute and think tank in Essen, Germany. Founded in 1926, the RWI maintains a non-profit status, mainly funded through public means while also receiving third-party-fundings. It conducts research on economic development, assists policy-making, and fosters economic literacy for the public. The RWI currently employs 120 people and is part of the Leibniz Association, a group of non-university research institutes in Germany.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Ruhr</span> Aspect of history

The actual boundaries of the Ruhr vary slightly depending on the source, but a good working definition is to define the Lippe and Ruhr as its northern and southern boundaries respectively, the Rhine as its western boundary, and the town of Hamm as the eastern limit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruhr Valley Railway</span> Railway line running from Düsseldorf-Rath to Warburg

The Ruhr Valley Railway is a partly abandoned railway line in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, running from Düsseldorf-Rath via Old Kupferdreh station, Bochum-Dahlhausen, Witten-Herbede, Hagen-Vorhalle and Schwerte to Warburg. It was built between 1872 and 1876 by the Bergisch-Märkische Railway Company, one of the three major private railway companies in the Ruhr area. The railway tracks that were built along the Ruhr river had a relatively uniform grade that was suitable for railway operations at the time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Essen-Steele station</span> Railway station in Essen, Germany

Essen-Steele is located in the district of Essen-Steele in the German city of Essen in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is on the Witten/Dortmund–Oberhausen/Duisburg line and is classified by Deutsche Bahn as a category 4 station. It is served by the RE 14 (Emscher-Münsterland-Express) Borken (Westf) / Coesfeld (Westf), RE 49 (Wupper-Lippe-Express) and Rhine-Ruhr S-Bahn lines S1, S3 and S9.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Essen-Steele Ost station</span> Railway station in Essen, Germany

Essen-Steele Ost station is located in the district of Essen-Steele in the German city of Essen in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is on the Witten/Dortmund–Oberhausen/Duisburg line and is classified by Deutsche Bahn as a category 4 station. It is served by Rhine-Ruhr S-Bahn lines S 1 and S 3.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Osterath–Dortmund Süd railway</span>

The Osterath–Dortmund-Süd railway is a historically significant line in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Parts of it are closed, much of it is now used for freight only, but several sections are still used for Regional-Express, Regionalbahn or Rhine-Ruhr S-Bahn services.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trams in Bochum/Gelsenkirchen</span> Tramway network in Germany

The Bochum/Gelsenkirchen tramway network is a network of tramways focused on Bochum and Gelsenkirchen, two cities in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

The Internationale Bauausstellung Emscher Park or International Architecture Exhibition Emscher Park was a programme for structural changes in the so-called German Ruhr region from 1989 to 1999 in order to show new concepts in terms of social, cultural and ecologic ideas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruhr Question</span> Political topos

The Ruhr Question was a political topos put on the agenda by the Allies of World War I and the Allies of World War II in the negotiations following each respective war, concerning how to deal with the economic and technological potential of the area where the Rhine and Ruhr intersect. France was heavily in favor of monitoring this region, due to the perception that the economic and technological potential of the region had allowed the German Reich to threaten and occupy France during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, and World War II. The Ruhr question was intimately associated with the Saar Statute and the German Question. There was also a close relationship between the Ruhr Question and the Allied occupation of the Rhineland (1919-1930), the Occupation of the Ruhr, the founding of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (1946), the International Authority for the Ruhr (1949-1952), the Schuman Declaration (1950), and the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community (1951). The political treatment of the Ruhr question is known as Ruhrpolitik in German. When one looks at the Rhineland as a whole or the attempted establishment of the Rhenish Republic in 1923, the terms Rhein- und Ruhrfrage or Rhein-Ruhr-Frage are used in German.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Technische Hochschule Georg Agricola</span>

The Technische Hochschule Georg Agricola is a state-accredited, private university of applied sciences based in Bochum, Germany. It was founded in 1816 as a Bergschule to train mining officials and mining foremen (Steiger) and, in the 20th century, grew into an engineering college and later a university. It has borne the name of the polymath and mining pioneer Georgius Agricola since 1995.


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Further reading