Dortmund Mini Guide
About the City
Having just under 600,000 inhabitants, Dortmund is the 8th largest city in Germany and centred in a region of heavy industry and coal production. Dortmund Port is the largest canal port in Europe handling much of the raw materials from the Ruhr. The city itself is a huge contrast to the region having a large proportion of its territory as parks, woodland and waterways giving it the soubriquet of the ‘green metropolis’.
A Little History
The city first comes to attention as Throtmanni in the late 9th century but it is destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the middle of the 12th century. The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, also known as Barbarossa, lived here for two years at that time making the city one of the ‘chief cities’ in Germany. A huge earthquake in 1661 destroyed the important Reinoldikirche which was subsequently rebuilt only to be destroyed again in World War II. After the war the city was rebuilt following extensive bomb damage and has since become the centre of Germany’s hi-tech industries
How Can I Get There?
Many low cost airlines fly to Dortmund including easyJet and Wizzair operating regular routes from Gatwick
. Access to the city, whilst not easy due to the lack of a train station at the airport, only takes 30 minutes by bus or taxi.
What to See in the City
Dortmund’s pride and joy is the Rosarium which has collected over 3,000 different varieties of rose, displaying them to the public and also maintaining a national archive of the varieties. In early summer the scent is overpowering here. A rather unusual attraction is the German Cook Book Museum which has many interesting exhibits including suggestions for meals when food was scarce in the war. Finally, a poignant visit is to the Steinwache Memorial and Museum which commemorates the sacrifices made by the people of the region between 1933 and 1945 in opposing the Nazis. The location for this is a former Gestapo headquarters.
Things to See and Do Outside the City
Dortmund is found in the extensively industrialised Ruhr Valley which may indicate little of interest outside the city. However, former industrial sites have been turned into pleasant parks, one of which being the Hohensyburg which is great for picnics and gives a panoramic view out over the city.
What to Do in the City
A favourite amongst football fans is to go to see a match involving the local team Borussia Dortmund, a Bundesliga stalwart and excellent entertainment on the pitch. Otherwise, plan a long stay at one of the city’s bierhausers, after all, Dortmund is famed for its beer.
At most times of the year shopping is confined to the huge malls of Hellweg, Brackel and Wambel where every conceivable consumer good is on offer. Wait until Christmas though and you have the magic of one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets
What Sort of Things can you Eat and Drink?
There are several foods typical of Dortmund including Salzkuchen, a caraway flavoured bagel style roll and Mettente, a smoked sausage speciality of the region. Wash them down with a glass of the local Stosschen beer, served in small glasses as it’s so strong
The city really comes alive at Christmas with processions, the massive Christmas market and the attempt at the world’s biggest Christmas tree pattern made up of hundreds of small trees.