Once a major producer of silver, coal and firearms, Essen has evolved from an industrial centre, into a city with a rich history, proud culture, and passion for design. Loads of green outdoor spaces, museums, galleries, and historical buildings are found throughout the city, making it an increasingly popular destination for tourists, particularly those touring the scenic Ruhr Area or Germany with a hire car
To get a great view of the city and see how the emphasis on the great outdoors has overtaken the mining industry, head to Essen City Hall, located in the heart of the city. Drive your rental car into the centre of town, and visit the building, which is the largest city hall in all of Germany, standing at over 100 metres tall. The observation deck on the 22nd floor will give you amazing panoramic views of Essen and the surrounding area and is particularly worth a visit in spring and summer when the landscape is made up of rich shades of green.
A quick drive from city hall in your hire car, you can visit some of Essen's well known historical buildings. The Munster Cathedral was built in the 14th century, and apart from its grand architecture also houses a magnificent collection of antiques and works of art. Particularly worth a mention is the world's oldest intact statue of Madonna, which is over 1000 years old. Not far from here is another important religious site, the Alte Synagogue. Although not quite as ancient as other historical buildings in Europe, this is one of the few synagogues that survived WWII relatively undamaged, and with a capacity of over 1,400 people is an impressive sight in itself.
To get an insight into the history of industry in the area, and the role it played in the growth of the city, jump in your rental car and head northeast from the city centre to the Zollverein, which was until recent years, a major coal mine. Tours will take you through the complex, which was once the largest coal mine in Europe, producing millions of tonnes of coal each year. Within the complex, you can also visit the famous Red Dot Design Centre, home to a collection of items and products which have won Red Dot Design Awards. The awards are given for innovative and forward-thinking designs, perfectly at home in a city with an emphasis on the future such as Essen.
Once you have seen some of the sights and historical buildings in Essen, its time to relax and unwind in the great outdoors for which the area is famous. A short drive south west of the city in your rental car, lies Grugapark, one of the largest recreational parks in all of Europe. Flower gardens, tropical and alpine plant houses and an immaculate Japanese garden are just some of the features of the park, which is the perfect place for a scenic walk, bike ride or picnic. Further south of the city, you can also visit Lake Baldev, a huge lake created by damming the Ruhr River in the 1930s. The lake is a popular spot for boating and canoeing, and the surrounding forests are ideal for bushwalking and hiking also, perfect for lovers of nature and the outdoors.
Beginning your discovery of the rich history and beauty that Essen has to offer starts with a car hire. Book with Auto Europe over our safe, reliable and secure online booking system. For more information, see our Car Hire FAQ page, check our Terms and Conditions, or Contact Us.