Gelsenkirchen In Your Pocket

First mentioned in 1150, Gelsenkirchen was up until the start of the 19th century little more than a handful of small farms with a total population of some 6,000 souls. The combined discovery of coal in the Ruhr Valley in 1840 and the building of the first railway seven years later transformed the region into a centre of heavy industry that by 1903 saw Gelsenkirchen, by now a bustling metropolis of 138,000 people, gain official city status.

Since the death of the coal and steel industries, the predominantly working class Gelsenkirchen has been busily reinventing itself, and is currently making waves as a centre of Germany's solar industry as well as a major industrial tourist attraction.

Read all about the Ruhrgebiet's industrial heritage and how to visit the highlights in our industrial tourism feature.

Through thick and thin Gelsenkirchen has always taken immense pride in its main football team, FC Schalke 04 (or Schalke for short), and the city has played host to several prestigious tournaments over the years including the 1974 and 2006 World Cup, the 1988 European Championship and the 2004 Champions League Final.

At the start of the 21st century Gelsenkirchen boasts a population of almost 300,000 people and is a surprisingly charming and quirky place to visit.