Infobox German Location
Name = Gelsenkirchen
German_name =
Art = City
image_photo = Musiktheater im Revier.jpg
imagesize =
image_caption = The Musiktheater im Revier (MiR) Opera House of Gelsenkirchen
Wappen = Stadtwappen der kreisfreien Stadt Gelsenkirchen.pnglat_deg = 51 | lat_min = 31 | lat_sec=0
lon_deg = 07 | lon_min = 06 | lon_sec=0
Bundesland = North Rhine-Westphalia
Regierungsbezirk = Münster
Kreis = Kreisfreie Stadt
Höhe = 60
Fläche = 104.84
Einwohner = 267362
pop_ref = [ [] ]
Stand = 2006-06-30
PLZ = 45801-45899
PLZ-alt = 4650 and 4660
Vorwahl = 0209
Kfz = GE
Website = []
Bürgermeister = Frank Baranowski
Bürgermeistertitel = Oberbürgermeister
Partei = SPD

Gelsenkirchen (IPA2|ˌgɛlzənˈkɪʁçən) is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the Ruhr area. Its population in 2006 was c. 267,000.

Gelsenkirchen was first documented in 1150, but it remained a tiny village until the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution led to the growth of the entire area. In 1840, when the mining of coal began, 6000 inhabitants lived in Gelsenkirchen; in 1900 the population had increased to 138,000.

In the early 20th century Gelsenkirchen was the most important coal mining town in Europe. It was called the "city of a thousand fires", for the flames of mine gasses being flared during the nights. In 1928 Gelsenkirchen was merged with the adjoining cities of Buer and Horst. The city bore the name Gelsenkirchen-Buer, until it was renamed Gelsenkirchen in 1930. During the Nazi era Gelsenkirchen remained a centre of coal production and oil refining, and for this reason it was bombed by Allied air raids in World War II. During the war, it was the site of a women's subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. [Edward Victor. "Alphabetical List of Camps, Subcamps and Other Camps." %20 of %20 camps. htm.] Today in Gelsenkirchen there are no collieries any more and Gelsenkirchen is searching for a new image, having been hit for decades with one of the highest unemployment rates of Germany. Today Germany's largest solar power plant is located in the city. In Gelsenkirchen-Scholven there is a coal fired power station with the tallest chimneys in Germany (302 m). Gelsenkirchen is home of the famous football club Schalke 04, which is named after the borough Schalke, while the club's famous arena - the Veltins Arena - is located in the borough Erle.


Ancient and Medieval times

Although the part of town now called Buer was first mentioned by Heribert I in a document as "Puira" in 1003, there were hunting people on a hill north of the Emscher as early as the Bronze Age — and therefore earlier than 1000 BC. They did not live in houses as such, but in small yards gathered together near each other. Later, the Romans pushed into the area. In about 700, the region was settled by the Saxons. A few other parts of town which today lie in Gelsenkirchen's north end were mentioned in documents from the early Middle Ages, some examples being: "Raedese" (nowadays "Resse"), Middelvic ("Middelich", today part of Resse), "Sutheim" ("Sutum"; today part of Beckhausen) and "Sculven" (nowadays "Scholven"). Many nearby farming communities were later identified as "iuxta Bure" ("near Buer").

It was about 1150 when the name "Gelstenkerken" or "Geilistirinkirkin" cropped up for the first time. At about the same time, the first church in town was built in what is now Buer. This "ecclesia Buron" ("church at Buer") was listed in a directory of parish churches by the sexton from Deutz, Theodericus. This settlement belonged to the Mark. However, in ancient times and even in the Middle Ages, only a few dozen people actually lived in the settlements around the Emscher basin.


Up until the middle of the 19th century, the area in and around Gelsenkirchen was only thinly settled and almost exclusively agrarian. In 1815, after temporarily belonging to the Grand Duchy of Berg, the land now comprising the city of Gelsenkirchen passed to the Kingdom of Prussia, which assigned it to the province of Westphalia. Whereas the Gelsenkirchen of that time — not including today's north-end communities, such as Buer — was put in the "Amt" of Wattenscheid in the Bochum district, in the governmental region of Arnsberg, Buer, which was an "Amt" in its own right, was along with nearby Horst joined to Recklinghausen district in the governmental region of Münster. This arrangement came to an end only in 1928.

After the discovery of coal — lovingly known as "Black Gold" — in the Ruhr area in 1840, and the subsequent industrialization, the Cologne-Minden Railway and the Gelsenkirchen Main Railway Station were opened. In 1868, Gelsenkirchen became the seat of an "Amt" within the Bochum district which encompassed the communities of Gelsenkirchen, Braubauerschaft (as of 1900, Bismarck), Schalke, Heßler, Bulmke and Hüllen.

Friedrich Grillo founded the Corporation for Chemical Industry ("Aktiengesellschaft für Chemische Industrie") in Schalke in 1872, and also the Schalke Mining and Ironworks Association ("Schalker Gruben- und Hüttenverein"). A year later, and once again in Schalke, he founded the Glass and Mirror Factory Incorporated ("Glas- und Spiegel-Manufaktur AG").

After Gelsenkirchen had become an important heavy-industry hub, it was raised to city in 1875.

Gelsenkirchen becomes a city

In 1885, after Bochum district was split up, Gelsenkirchen became the seat of its own district ("Kreis"), which would last until 1926. The cities of Gelsenkirchen and Wattenscheid, as well as the "Ämter" of Braubauerschaft (as of 1900, Bismarck), Schalke, Ückendorf, Wanne and Wattenscheid all belonged to the Gelsenkirchen district. A few years later, in 1896, Gelsenkirchen was split away from Gelsenkirchen district to become an "independent city" ("kreisfreie Stadt"). In 1891, Horst was split away from the "Amt" of Buer, which itself was raised to city in 1911, and to "kreisfreie Stadt" the next year. Meanwhile, Horst became the seat of its own "Amt". In 1924, the rural community of Rotthausen, which until then had belonged to the Essen district, was made part of the Gelsenkirchen district.

In 1928, under the Prussian local government reforms, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Buer along with the "Amt" of Horst together became a new "kreisfreie Stadt" called Gelsenkirchen-Buer, effective as of 1 April that year. From that time, the whole city area belonged to the governmental district of Münster. In 1930, on the city's advice, the city's name was changed to "Gelsenkirchen", effective 21 May. By this time, the city was home to about 340,000 people.

In 1931, the Gelsenkirchen Mining Corporation ("Gelsenkirchener Bergwerks-Aktien-Gesellschaft") founded the "Gelsenberg" Petrol Corporation ("Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG").The Hibernia Mining Company founded the "Hydrierwerk Scholven AG GE-Buer", a hydrogenation plant, in 1935.

The Third Reich

During the time of Nazi Germany, Gelsenkirchen, owing to its location in the heart of the Ruhr area, was a centre of wartime industry. In no other time has Gelsenkirchen's industry been so highly productive. This brought about, on the one hand, after the massive job cuts in the 1920s, a short-term boost in mining and heavy-industry jobs. On the other hand, the city naturally became the target of many heavy Allied bombing raids during the Second World War, which destroyed three fourths of Gelsenkirchen. Even today, many old above-ground air-raid shelters can be found in the city, and some of the city's official buildings such as Hans-Sachs-Haus downtown and the town hall in Buer have air-raid shelters still kept more or less in their original form.

Two synagogues in Gelsenkirchen were destroyed in the anti-Jewish riots of "Kristallnacht" on November 9, 1938. The one in Buer was burnt down. The one in downtown Gelsenkirchen was likewise destroyed. In the Kristallnacht Nazis in the German Reich destroyed Jewish business, dwellings and cemeteries, set synagogs on fire. Also the synagog in Gelsenkirchen, which had been inaugurated in 1885, was burned down to the foundation walls. Since 1963 a board reminded passers of the destruction of the old synagogue. Finally, in 1993 the area was renamed to the "place of the old synagogue" and 66 years later, on 9.November 2004, Paul Spiegel put the foundation-stone for the new synagog. On 1.February the place of worship was solemnly opened. After an approximate one year construction period is the new synagog in Gelsenkichen now that new center of the Jewish municipality in the place developed, in which also the 1938 destroyed old synagog were. The praying area offers place for altogether 400 people, additionally is attached a community center with meeting area. Today the Jewish municipality Gelsenkirchen counts about 430 members. In Gelsenkirchen there was an external camp of the KZ Buchenwald in the year 1944. In the Gelsenberg Lager on the working area of the Gelsenberg Benzin AG about 2000 Hungarian women and girls were accommodated, who were assigned to the hard labour on the hydrogenation work. About 150 of these Hungarian Jewesses died with heavy bomb attacks in September 1944 on the work. The admission to shelters and protection ditches was forbidden to them. List of victims is accessible on the page of [ GELSENZENTRUM Documentationcenter for urban and contemporary history]

Throughout the time when Hitler was in power, from 1933 to 1945, the city's mayor was Carl Engelbert Böhmer, an NSDAP member appointed by the régime. The Institute for City History set up a documentation site: "Gelsenkirchen in National Socialist times".

After the war

On 17 December 1953, the "Kokerei Hassel" went into operation, billed as Germany's "first new coking plant" since the war. When postal codes ("Postleitzahlen") were introduced in 1961, Gelsenkirchen was one of the few cities in West Germany to be given two codes: Buer was given 466, while Gelsenkirchen got 465. These were in use until 1 July 1993. The "first comprehensive school in North Rhine-Westphalia" was opened in 1969. Scholven-Chemie AG (the old hydrogenation plant) merged with Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG to form the new corporation VEBA-Oel AG. In 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass before 85,000 people at Gelsenkirchen's Parkstadion. The Pope also became an honorary member of FC Schalke 04.

In 1997, the Federal Garden Show ("Bundesgartenschau" or "BUGA") was held on the grounds of the disused Nordstern coalmine in Horst. In 1999, the last phase of the Emscher Park International Building Exhibition, an undertaking that brought together many cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, was held. Coke was produced at the old Hassel coking works for the last time on 29 September 1999. This marked the shutdown of the last coking plant in Gelsenkirchen, after being a coking town for more than 117 years. In the same year, Shell Solar Deutschland AG took over production of photovoltaic equipment. On 28 April 2000, the Ewald-Hugo colliery closed — Gelsenkirchen's last colliery. Three thousand coalminers lost their jobs. In 2003, Buer celebrated its thousandth anniversary of first documentary mention, and FC Schalke 04 celebrated on 4 May 2004 its hundredth anniversary.

Today, Gelsenkirchen is a centre for sciences, services, and production, with good infrastructure.

Population development

The following figures are estimates, census data, or official extrapolations of Gelsenkirchen's population at various times.

¹ Census figures

Economy and infrastructure

Gelsenkirchen presents itself above all as a centre of solar technology. Shell Solar Deutschland GmbH produces solar cells in Rotthausen. Scheuten Solar Technology has taken over its solar panel production. There are other large businesses in town: THS GmbH, Gelsenwasser, e.on, BP Gelsenkirchen GmbH, Shell Solar Deutschland GmbH and Pilkington. According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, Gelsenkirchen is, after Leipzig, Karlsruhe and Bremen, Germany's fourth business-friendliest city.


Gelsenkirchen lies on Bundesautobahnen A 2, A 40, A 42 and A 52, as well as on Bundesstraßen (Federal Highways) B 224, B 226 and B 227. Gelsenkirchen's main railway station lies at the junction of the Oberhausen-Gelsenkirchen-Herne-Dortmund and Essen-Gelsenkirchen-Recklinghausen-Münster lines.

As for waterways, Gelsenkirchen can be reached along the Rhine-Herne Canal, where a commercial-industrial harbour is to be found. The harbour has a yearly turnover of 2 000 000 t and a water surface area of about 1.2 km², one of Germany's biggest and most important canal harbours, and is furthermore connected to Deutsche Bahn's railway network.

Local transport in Gelsenkirchen is afforded by trams and buses run by the "Bochum-Gelsenkirchener Straßenbahn AG" ("BOGESTRA"), as well as by "Vestische Straßenbahnen GmbH" in the city's north end (despite its name, it nowadays runs only buses). The Stadtbahn train U17, which connects Horst to Essen, as well as tram line 107, which connects Gelsenkirchen Central Station to Essen, are operated by EVAG. Tram line 302 connects the city to Bochum. All these services have an integrated fare structure within the VRR. There are three tram lines, one light rail line, and about 50 bus routes in Gelsenkirchen.


Gelsenkirchen is the headquarters of the "Verband Lokaler Rundfunk in Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V. (VLR)" (Network of Local Radio in North Rhine-Westphalia Registered Association (VLR). REL ("Radio Emscher-Lippe") is also headquartered in Gelsenkirchen.

Among newspapers, the "Buersche Zeitung" was a daily till 2006. Then the paper was closed down, though economically there was no reason for it. The Dortmund paper "Ruhr-Nachrichten" did the local news section. Now, the "Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung" is the only local newspaper in Gelsenkirchen and has so to say a monopoly. The local radio station REL also reports the local news.

There is also a free weekly newspaper, the "Stadtspiegel Gelsenkirchen", along with monthly, or irregular, local publications called the "Familienpost" and the "Beckhausener Kurier".


On the occasion of the 2006 FIFA world football championship, the transport infrastructure in Gelsenkirchen leading to the Veltins-Arena underwent modifications. Likewise, the main railway station is undergoing extensive reconstruction, with completion planned in time for the championship.


Gelsenkirchen has 51 elementary schools (36 "community" schools, 12 Catholic schools, 3 Evangelical schools), 8 "Hauptschulen", 6 "Realschulen", 7 "Gymnasien", and 4 "Gesamtschulen", among which the "Gesamtschule Bismarck", as the only comprehensive school run by the Westphalian branch of the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, warrants special mention.

The "Fachhochschule Gelsenkirchen", founded in 1992, has campuses in Bocholt and Recklinghausen with the following course offerings: Economics, Computer Science, Physical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Supply and Disposal Engineering.

Also found in Gelsenkirchen is one of the seven locations of the "Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung NRW" ("Fachhochschule" for public administration North Rhine-Westphalia) offering as fields of study Municipal Administrative Service, Police Training, and Administrative Economics. There is also a folk high school as well as a city library with three branches in Horst, Buer and Erle with more than 700,000 books, films, and CDs.


Gelsenkirchen is home of the football club FC Schalke 04. Schalke's home ground, Veltins-Arena, is generally regarded as one of the most innovative stadiums built in recent years. It is one of 12 German cities to host games during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and has already hosted the matches between Poland and Ecuador, Argentina and Serbia and Montenegro, Portugal and Mexico and USA and Czech Republic.

Gelsenkirchen has also hosted two important Yugoslav games. These games were Serbia's two largest FIFA world cup defeats. They were a 6-0 loss to Argentina and a 9-0 win over Zaire.

Points of interest


Twinned towns

* Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom (since 1948)
* Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina (since 1969)
* Shakhty, Russia (since 1989)
* Olsztyn, Poland (since 1992)
* Cottbus, Germany (since 1995)
* Büyükçekmece, Turkey (since 2004)
* Kutaisi, Georgia

See also

* Gelsenkirchen University of Applied Sciences


External links

* [ Official city website, with information in English including British/Irish influence during the 19th century]
* [ GELSENZENTRUM Documetation center of urban and contemporary history Gelsenkirchen]
* []
* [ Gelsenkirchen at MapQuest (interactive)]
* [ about the football World Cup 2006 in Gelsenkirchen]
* [ Lots of photos on]
* [ Website of partnership Gelsenkirchen - Schachty] de iconru icon

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