The Ruhr Mythology

Miners' greeting at the Alte Haase mine, Sprockhövel / Photo: Manfred VollmerMiners' greeting at the Alte Haase mine, Sprockhövel / Photo: Manfred Vollmer

Miners' greeting at the Alte Haase mine, Sprockhövel / Photo: Manfred Vollmer

The Ruhr mythology is a story set against a backdrop of coal and steel, hard work and solidarity and, no less important in the eyes of many, football. It has been cast by the coexistence of different cultures and religions, the influx of millions of immigrants, the development of close local ties, the economic boom caused by the presence of "black gold", and the culmination of a critical European and global era: industrialisation. The years after the Industrial Revolution up until the 1960s defined this mythology and the cultural identity of the people. Over a period of around a century, the Ruhr region developed a facet that it had not inherited from princes and kings: its culture. Indeed, a wholly unique cultural landscape has come into being, shaped by the mores, credos and customs brought to the area by people from other nations, by workers' initiatives, by flourishing industrial enterprises and by philanthropists and patrons.

But the pre-industrial era also moulded the cultural heritage of the Ruhr: the Middle Ages and their short-lived golden age, during which, for instance, Essen Cathedral's world-famous treasury was accumulated and numerous castles and palaces were built; or the period of almost one thousand years when abbesses and canonesses held sway over huge swathes of the region; or the churches and monasteries that dominated the villages then and still punctuate the urban landscape today. History often forgotten against the industrial backdrop of more recent times.

Under its slogan, "The Ruhr mythology", the European Capital of Culture places the Ruhr Metropolis in its historical context, revealing its roots and highlighting its search for the future. It is this context that is the basis for defining a new metropolis.

The "The Ruhr Mythology" programme consists of three different themes:

The Art of Recollection

Through the centuries, medieval feuds, splendid Renaissance feasts, castles and palaces alongside giants of industry and mining infrastructure have made for a thrilling landscape. The stories tell of knights and pitmen, of courageous, inspirational women and of immigrants, all of whom have left their traces through the passage of time. They continue to define the appearance of the region. European networks are established, strengthened and galvanised. The recollection of a metropolis that has spawned one of Europe's most exciting and multifaceted cultural regions.

Jump to the theme: The Art of Recollection

Top League

Besides conventional venues for sports activities, the Ruhr region offers numerous other locations for leisure pursuits: diving in a gas holder, climbing in a former steelworks, cycling along the railway lines of closed mines, mountain biking on spoil tips, not to mention jogging, inline skating and walking in the erstwhile "forbidden cities" of industry, now landscape parks serving as new urban recreation areas. Indeed, the Ruhr sports metropolis is in the top league, and not just for its football. RUHR.2010 offers a broad-ranging programme of sports events designed to harness the outstanding social and cultural energy afforded by this all-important facet of our everyday lives.

Jump to the Theme: Top League


"If God had to fill out a form at a hotel reception desk, He probably wouldn't know what to write under 'Religion'." This was local cabaret artist Hanns Dieter Hüsch's humorous and pertinent synopsis of a reality of life in the Ruhr. Home to people from 170 different countries, this region embraces a fascinating diversity of religions and denominations. But who can claim to know everything about all the beliefs, histories, stories and legends, festivals, customs and places of worship? The Ruhr's myriad religions offer an excellent opportunity to explore or rediscover hidden treasures - as a source of inspiration, as a chance to reflect on their meaning and significance and as a means of promoting mutual appreciation. Besides those listed below, many other projects in other themes touch on this topic.

Jump to the theme: Belief

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