The highest skyscraper...the largest shopping centre...the fastest roller coaster...anyone can do that. ;-) Here in Ruhrpott, we have our own superlatives. Notwithstanding the fact that with more than 5 million inhabitants, we live in the largest metropolitan area in Germany. We’d like to introduce you to some of the “most bizarre”. Ladies and gentlemen, hold on tight!
How many rooms would you guess are contained in the Villa Hügel, which is entered in the city of Essen’s land registry as a one-family house? 50? 100? Not even close. Alfred Krupp had no less than 269 rooms built into his 8,100-m² family estate. 450 diggers, 300 bricklayers and 40 stone cutters laid approx. 25,000 tiles a day for three years, until the Villa was finally finished in 1873. What do you think it cost to build what is today the largest one-family house in Germany? Exactly 23,577 thalers, 11 groschen and 10 pennies.
Yes, it’s astonishing, right? The longest and largest free-standing escalator in Germany, with a length of 58 metres, is located in the Essen World Heritage Site of Zollverein. It takes one-and-a-half minutes to make the 24-metre vertical journey to the former coal washing plant. Or, of course, you could climb the 136 steps on foot. But seriously: the gigantic escalator, dedicated in 2006, is the absolute eyecatcher on the World Heritage Site premises besides the characteristic twin-trestle winding tower. Especially in the evening, when the side walls and steps are lit in orange-red.
Those from Frankfurt call them "Wasserhäuschen", Berliners say "Spätis": the kiosk, or, as we like to say in the Ruhr Region, the “Bude”. One-third of them are located in Pott. Approx. 12,000 to 15,000. Exact figures? Wrong. The kiosk here has its own day, its own clubs—even its own pilgrimage. Why are there so many? Simple: At one time, unboiled tap water was a health risk. So the coal mine and factory workers drank beer or schnapps instead, bolstered by the “Schnapsspende” (extra added liquor). To curb alcoholism, the city promoted the establishment of kiosks, where mineral water and other alcohol-free drinks were offered. So the first kiosks were built mainly next to coal mines and factories. And they remain iconic in the Ruhr Region, these kiosks where people meet for a beer and a quick (or long) chat.
45 metres in diameter, 13 metres deep and a 20-metre visibility range: In 1996, the diving gasometer, the largest indoor plunge pool in Europe, was built in the former gasometer of the Duisburg Nord nature park. Of course, a diving centre is also located here, which can provide training for almost all local courses, since the diving district gasometer is known as open water. A fabulous 21 million litres of water are waiting for you—there are a few things to discover here besides an artistic riff or the wreck of a motor yacht.