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Essen History, Germany

Essen is a city situated between the Rhine-Herne Canal and the Ruhr River, in western Germany. A city that started as a small settlement is now the sixth largest city in Germany and quarters thirteen of the top 100 largest companies of the country. Tracing back to Essen History, one will appreciate how it began as a prosperous city in Germany.

Essen History - Ancient Times

Archeological artifacts collected at the site, such as the blade found in Vogelheim, were as old as 280,000 - 250,000 B.C. Other relics dated back to the Stone Age. Essen was also believed to be inhabited by the Chatti, Bructeri and Marsi tribes, also of Germanic origin, but determining which tribe stayed at which part was hard to establish.

Essen History - During its first 600 years

At the heart of modern-day Essen was where a monastery was established by Saint Altfrid Bishop of Heldesheim in the year 845 which houses and educates only the daughters and widows of noble descent. The monastery’s first abbess, Gerswit, was a relative of Saint Altfrid.

In 852, the cathedral of the abbey began its construction and completed in 870. However, a fire in 946 burned both the community and the church. The expanded reconstructed church is known today as the Essen Cathedral.

At the end of the 10th century, Matilda II (granddaughter of Emperor Otto I) took over the administration of the abbey. Her reign brought the abbey invaluable treasures and also started the line of Ottonian-related successors.

Under Teophanu (granddaughter of Otto II), Essen became a city in 1003, markets were permitted in 1041, and ten years after, the construction of eastern part of the abbey started.

Essen History - During the 13th to 19th century

In 1216, the abbess of Essen was given the title Reichsfürstin (Princess of the Empire). After twenty-eight years, the Archbishop of Cologne Konrad von Hochstaden captured Essen, instituted Essen as a town, and erected a wall that temporarily freed the people from the rule of the princess-abbesses. But in 1290, King Rudolph I reestablished the control of the Imperial Abbey over the city. In 1377, Essen was granted the status of a state.

Many changes happened in the political system of Essen, such as the Protestant Reformation in 1563, the take over of Prussia in 1802, and the abolishment of the abbey in 1803. The Thirty Years’ War (1618 - 1648) and Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1753) proved to be devastating for the city. The early 19th century marked Essen’s entry into the Industrial age, becoming a leading steel and coal manufacturer.

Essen History – Present Day

During World War II, Essen suffered one of the heaviest air strikes by the Allies. By the end of the war and after 272 air raids, the city was left in ruins.

In the period between 1953 and 1973, a mining crisis caused most collieries to be demolished. Zollverein, the last standing mining company, was shut down in 1986 and became a historical monument.

Despite the tragic happenings in Essen History, the city stood up glorious. Now, it is one of the most well-known places in Germany. There are more traces of the wonderful beginnings of the country via Cologne History and Berlin History.
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Essen City Ratings

  • Rating82%
    City Rank125
  • History & Culture: rated for 80%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 90%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 77%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 73%
  • Food: rated for 87%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 83%
  • Shopping: rated for 100%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 93%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 65%
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