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Old industrial facilities and green parks – Bochum is a city undergoing significant changes. If you keep an open mind, you’ll recognise its charm and learn to appreciate the honesty of its inhabitants. Bochum is situated in the urbanised Ruhr region, a former industrial powerhouse and in 2010 one of Europe’s capitals of culture.
The residents of Bochum must have a very special relationship to their city. The former mining and industrial city located in the conurbation of the Ruhr region is adjusting to the challenges of the future, and that’s one of the reasons why its inhabitants love their city. For all of its subtle charm, you might not recognise what makes the city worth loving at first glance. The German singer Herbert Grönemeyer wrote a famous song about Bochum, in which he sings: “You’re no beauty, grey with work, you love yourself without make-up, you’re the honest type.” It’s amazing how in so few words one can sum up Bochum – not especially beautiful, but honest.
The Ruhr region used to be the centre of Germany’s heavy industry. It was a coal and steel producing region, called “Germany’s black lung”. The region was known for its mines, smelting furnaces and winding towers. In the meantime, however, the “Ruhrpott” as they call it, has transformed itself into a cultural region – home to more than five million people and the European Capital of Culture in 2010.
Walking through the city, you can still see the traces of Bochum’s industrial past. The last mining buildings are still standing on the city outskirts, closed-down factories which had once produced steel, and the pubs where the former “Kumpel” (coal miners) still meet. Bochum used to be grey and bleak, a city of factories and workers. Its work-weary past is evident in its often plain, functional buildings. You won’t find a quaint historic centre here. Even the architectural style of the Ruhr University, located on a hill at the edge of town, was clearly designed to be functional. The boxy-looking buildings from the 1970s are divided into departments and arranged on campus accordingly.
You can gain an impression of times past in Bochum’s most famous museum – the . There you can experience how important coal mining was to the city and see the melancholy in the eyes of some of the visitors. You also get a sense of the grandeur of the past in the Jahrhunderthalle, which now serves as a venue for concerts and performances.
At the Westpark nearby the Jahrhunderthalle you can picnic and play sports. It’s also where you’ll meet lots of students.
You can experience even more nature to the south of Bochum at Kemnader Lake. There’s an eight-kilometre path around its periphery where you can go jogging, inline-skating, biking or hiking. You’re not allowed to go swimming there, but you can rent a paddle boat or a canoe and paddle across the lake.
When people from Bochum go out, they meet up at the “Bermuda Dreieck“ – several streets at the edge of downtown filled with pubs, bars and clubs. Lots of people sit at tables outside and enjoy the weather in the summertime. It’s also the scene of concerts, parties and events of all kinds, which are especially popular among students.
One of the major summer highlights is the “Bochum Total” festival. You can enjoy concerts by well-known and new, up-and-coming bands throughout the city for four days at no charge.
Bochum is known far and wide for its excellent theatre and performing arts scene. The Bochum is the largest theatre in town and offers a programme of theatre classics and modern pieces. The is a bit smaller, but just as renowned. It features a repertoire of classical and modern plays. The theatre “” performs works which are sometimes quite extraordinary. It’s a good idea to ask students who come from Bochum which performances they’d recommend watching or experiencing.
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