a city with history and special people

Dortmund is the destination of many war refugees from Ukraine. But in which city are they actually located? Let us try to explain Dortmund briefly and concisely.

The Borussia Dortmund football team is the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they think of Dortmund. But what kind of city is Dortmund actually?

Dortmund is an international city

Let’s start with the numbers: Dortmund has around 600,000 inhabitants, making it the third largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia and the largest city in the Ruhr area. Incidentally, more than one in three Dortmund residents have a foreign passport or at least a history of migration. This is particularly evident in parts of the city, such as Nordstadt. More than half of the residents here do not have a German passport.

Dortmund is an old city

Even if you don’t see it at first glance: Dortmund have a long history. Already in the Middle Ages it was a Hanseatic city with rich merchants and many international connections.

Dortmund gained new importance with industrialization starting in the mid-19th century. Coal was mined, large industrial companies such as the Hoesch steel mill were founded. Together with the Ruhr area, Dortmund became the largest mining and industrial region in Europe.

Beer also played a special role. Until the 1990s Dortmund was the city in Europe where most of the beer was brewed. Today only one of the seven large breweries remains. But Dortmund beer is still known as a quality brand and still tastes good.

Industry is history

In general, the industry in Dortmund is now largely history. There hasn’t been a coal mine in Dortmund for 35 years and the last steel mill closed 20 years ago. What is known as structural change has begun. The best example of this is Lake Phoenix in Hörde: where there was a steel mill, a lake with new chic residential areas and a harbor has emerged that attracts many visitors.

The Phoenix Lake Harbor Boardwalk is a popular destination. © Björn Althoff (A)

Instead of large industrial companies, merchants, authorities, medium-sized enterprises, service providers such as insurance companies, technology and IT companies are now major employers.

Dortmund is a university city

Universities play an important role. There are more than 40,000 students between the Technical University and the University of Applied Sciences. So Dortmund is a great student city, even if you don’t really feel it in the city. Because the university is on a campus outside the city center. The largest technology park in Europe was also created there.

Is Dortmund a beautiful city?

It is questionable. The problem is that there is little left of old Dortmund apart from a few historic churches and beautiful moated castles. Because Dortmund was one of the cities particularly bombed during the Second World War. In 1945, more than 90 percent of the city center was destroyed. Unfortunately, many old buildings were not restored during the reconstruction.

Bodelschwingh moated castle recalls the town’s long history. © Stephan Schuetz

They wanted to build a new city. This is why it is above all the buildings of the fifties and sixties that characterize the image of the city center. But there are still beautiful residential areas with old houses such as the Kreuzviertel or the Nordstadt.

Dortmund has greenery and culture

What’s particularly nice is that Dortmund are very green. More than half of the urban area consists of parks, forests and other green spaces. Some suburbs almost look like villages. So many people live in a green environment. That’s why the vast majority of residents say they like living in Dortmund.

Dortmund also offers good care to families with schools and kindergartens, the sick and the elderly. And there are many cultural and recreational activities: a theater with opera, theater, ballet, orchestra and children’s theater, many museums and, of course, parks. Rombergpark is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, Westfalenpark with the Florian Tower is a popular destination.

The Signal Iduna Park with the “yellow wall” of the BVB fans is known all over the world. © Stephan Schuetz

Many events, from fairs and sports to concerts, take place in Westfalenhallen. And Signal Iduna Park, home of Borussia Dortmund, is the largest football stadium in Germany and is known all over the world, especially for the special atmosphere with over 20,000 fans in the south stand.

Dortmund have special people

If you ask newcomers what makes Dortmund special, most of all they say: the people. People in the Ruhr area are considered to be particularly open and honest. It is easier for strangers to settle here than anywhere else. Maybe it’s because people have been coming to Dortmund and the Ruhr area again and again for more than 100 years.

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