Located in the middle of the Ruhr region between Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen, Hern looks like an ordinary city at first glance. However, much more happened than first saw. A lot depends on the time of your visit, as if you come in early August you will be overwhelmed by the joy and excitement of Cranger Kirmes, the largest Volksfest in North Rhine-Westphalia absorb.
The site that was once an industrial facility also has year-round culture, as well as a superb museum on the science behind archaeology. The oldest building in Hearn is the Renaissance moat castle, which houses two museums, one for art and the other for the history of the city.
Let’s take a look at Hearn’s best events:
1. Craig Combs
The largest folk festival in North Rhine-Westphalia, which attracts 4 million people every year, takes place in Herne in early August for ten days.
This tradition dates back 600 years and started as a market where horses raised around the forests along the Emscher River were sold.
Over time, the horse market was accompanied by many entertainments such as clowns and fortune tellers.
Eventually entertainment became the main attraction and the last horse was sold over 150 years ago.
There are 500 entertainment venues, as well as a beer hall and various playground rides such as a Ferris wheel, roller coaster and carousel.
Food is at the heart of the festivities, with many stalls roasting almonds and roasting sausages.
2. LWL-Museum für Archäologie
This regional museum documents everyday life from 250,000 years ago to the present, putting you in the shoes of an archaeologist.
In the permanent exhibition, a pedestrian bridge will take you on a chronological tour of the reconstructed past, as if you were observing the excavation.
There are reconstructed Neanderthal caves, Bronze Age burials and Egyptian tombs.
And the museum uses environmental effects to let you feel the cold of the Ice Age, hear the turmoil of the Franconian and Saxon wars, and smell some medieval scents.
Research labs show how scientists can decipher clues from the past, combining chemical, medical and historical knowledge to assess burials.
3. Künstlerzeche Unser Fritz 2/3
From 1871 to 1929, this evocative brick building was a coal mine and washing plant.
In 1972, an artist collective took over the mine and began using its former factory as a studio, exhibition space and live music venue.
The center is still going strong today and is open to visitors on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Even if there isn’t anything to your taste, the site is worth a look for its beautiful industrial architecture.
4. Schloss Strünkede
First mentioned in 1243, this glorious moated castle near the city center has been the seat of the von Strünkede family for 600 years.
The castle served a defensive function until it was transformed into a Renaissance palace at the end of the 16th century.
Today it is one of the most beautiful historic buildings in the Ruhr area, in addition to a Gothic church built in 1272 by the nobleman Bernd von Strünkede. The castle has been owned by Herne since 1944, and the exhibition inside is part of the Emschertal Museum, depicting the city’s history from Neanderthal times to industrialization.
Some interesting curiosities here are the mammoth bones and Renaissance sculptures in the tombs of Jobst and Hendrika von Strünkede, who died in the 16th century.
5. Städtische Galerie im Schlosspark Strünkede
In an elegant Wilhemine villa on the castle grounds is another branch of the Emchertal Museum.
Known for its prints and drawings, the Städtische Galerie (Municipal Gallery) houses some of the most acclaimed artists of the 20th century.
There are 100 lithographs by Salvador Dali, as well as prints and drawings by Max Ernst, Picasso, Marc Chagall, Georges Braque and Pierre Soulages.
In the 1990s, the museum purchased paintings by prominent contemporary artists such as Josef Beuys, Emil Schumacher, Georg Meestermann and the ZERO group.
6. Gissenberg Park
When Herne’s family wanted to relax and have fun outdoors, the obvious choice was this 31-hectare park, which opened in 1970. Gysenbergpark is located in the southern part of Hernes in the district of Sodingen and was used for agriculture before it became a park.
There is a small zoo with Central European species and a petting zoo, a miniature golf course, a miniature railway that runs all year round, an ice rink and the LAGO pool complex which we will visit next.
There are plenty of opportunities for exercise here, and in summer there is a pond to rent pedal boats.
In any season, it’s worth putting this bath and spa on your radar.
LAGO consists of three “worlds”: Wasserwelt, Solewelt and Saunawelt.
Wasserwelt is the family-friendly heart of the center, featuring an indoor wave pool heated to 27°C, an outdoor pool and a 112-meter slide.
Solewelt (Salt World) feels more like a spa, with an indoor saltwater pool with 3% salt at 34°C, as well as a smaller outdoor pool and jacuzzi with massage jets.
Finally, Saunawelt has 10,000 square meters of saunas and steam rooms, divided by gender, but also offers common areas.
8. Flottman Harlan
This row of Art Nouveau halls is another piece of Herne’s mining heritage.
From 1908 to 1983, it was at this site that the first compressed air hammer drills were manufactured for the mine.
When the factory closed in 1983, most of the buildings were demolished, with the exception of the showroom, blacksmith and locksmith workshops.
What was once an industrial trailblazer is now a space for art exhibitions.
The 11 hectares of hilly grassland surrounding the original factory area has slowly been transformed into a contemporary sculpture garden.
9. Opel Museum Herne
In a 2,500 m² hall at Riemker Straße 22, there is a museum of the German car manufacturer Opel.
The series is not an official attraction and was founded in 1990 by mechanical engineer Hilmar Born.
While Opel has long been associated with automobiles, in the first decades of the 20th century the brand also produced strollers, refrigerators, sewing machines and bicycles.
These are all waiting for you, along with about 50 vintage cars.
The vehicles are kept in top condition and when you come you will be able to see the museum mechanics at work.
10. Zechensiedlung Teutoburg
One of the most interesting things about the industrial history of the Ruhr area is the way the area dealt with the sudden influx of workers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The answer is settlements like Tuetoburgia in the Börnig district of Herne.
Teutoburgia was designed according to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City concept, ensuring large gardens and expansive parks in the front and rear.
The houses are in a romantic historical style with faux wood structures, and many are still home to descendants of miners.
On the north side of the settlement are the remains of a local coal mine, now a park, and the headstand has been preserved as a monument, which can be seen from a distance when lit at night.
11. Mond Palaste
Known as Germany’s largest folk theatre, Mondpalast is a comedy, founded in 2005. The building itself dates back to 1911 and is a fine work of Wilhelm II architecture.
Mondpalast is a place to keep in mind, you want to experience the down-to-earth culture of the Ruhr, as long as you can follow the German language and local inflections.
There is a long program repertoire, but the most popular and longest running are Ronaldo and Julia.
In the comic book version of Romeo and Juliet, the ill-fated lovers come from two feuding families, one supporting Dortmund and the other their Ruhr rival Schalke 04.
12. Halder Pluto
Throughout the Ruhr region, slag piles built up next to abandoned mine shafts are now covered by nature, serving as places to breathe fresh air and exercise.
In September 2014, a new staircase and observation platform were installed on the Halde Pluto.
You can climb 40 steps and set your sights on the Ruhr area from a height of 75 meters.
One of the sights to see is the mine where all these piles were created: the huge derrick of the mine can be clearly seen.
Further afield you can see Essen’s town hall and Gelsenkirchen’s Zeche Consol.
Bahnhofstrasse runs through the middle of the pedestrian area of Herne and continues to Schloss Strünkede, the city’s most vibrant street.
All the international fashion chains like H&M and C&A are on the street, separated by cafes, fast food chains and more upscale restaurants.
There is also a branch of the German department store Karstadt and a small mall in the city centre.
Along Bahnhofstrasse, above the shop signs, you’ll notice that many of the buildings are original Art Nouveau or historicist buildings that survived the war.
14. Day out
One of the great things about being in a metropolitan center like the Ruhr is that you can see or do something in almost any direction.
In about 15 minutes you can reach Dortmund, home to the huge Signal Iduna Park football stadium, a one-of-a-kind sports ground.
You can stop by the football theme at the new German Football Museum, which tells you everything you need to know about the German national team and domestic giants.
There are more industrial museums nearby: the most famous monument in the Ruhr area is the UNESCO-listed Zeche Zollverein mining complex, just 15 km west of Herne next to Gelsenkirchen.
15. Christmas Market
Herne’s Christmas market brings a lot of joy in midwinter.
Herne’s market in Robert-Brauner-Platz starts earlier than most markets in Germany and trades from mid-November to December 23rd.
A log cabin pops up on the square, along with an eight-meter-tall tree consisting of 150 pine trees and a magical lampshade.
Two large tents at the market sell handcrafts, jams and pastries, with proceeds donating to charities in the Amazon region.
As always, one of the best things about the market is its food, with all the usual favorites like roasted almonds, sausages, and chocolate-dipped fruit.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Herne, Germany
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