Versatile landscaped zones and expansive meadows, colourful beds of dahlias, plenty of concerts, impressive shows and adventure playgrounds. Every year millions of visitors flock to Essen’s popular Gruga Park. 

Set in a densely populated conurbation the “Great Ruhr Landscape Gardening Exhibition” is a spacious recreational area for locals and tourists alike.

Designed by landscape architect Johannes Gabriel, the 13-hectare “Great Ruhr Landscape Gardening Exhibition” (Gruga) was created 1929 between Essen’s exhibition complex and the Botanical Gardens. That year from the end of June till mid-October almost two million people – some from abroad – visited the impressive show in the Ruhr district.

Its huge popularity led to the Gruga Park being merged with the Botanical Gardens; the ensemble re-opened at Easter 1930. The industrial city had acquired a park open to the public all year round.

Under the Nazis the popular park was extended to 47 hectares as part of the “Second Reich Garden Show”. It also gained a courtyard decorated with ceramics (Keramikhof) and the “Grosser Blumenhof” restaurant; other attractions included the steam-operated Liliput train and a small children’s zoo. Yet Nazi propaganda was evident even

in this picturesque park: Red swastika flags wafted over colourful dahlia beds and rabble-rousing slogans adorned the comfortable seats. During the Second World War extensive air-raids destroyed the sea of flowers, leaving behind a bleak rubble landscape. Until 1948 the wasteland was used to grow vegetables for the local hospitals.

In 1949 part of the complex was opened to the public again. Although the area had little to offer visitors it still drew millions. In the following years a park was created that re-interpreted nature and landscaping: The strict outlines gave way to curving lawns and generous vistas. Today the 65 hectare large area boasts sport grounds, playgrounds, a Tropical Rainforest House and gardens, not to mention culture and art for locals and tourists.

Moreover, in the park’s show gardens where RWE Deutschland has installed a permanent luminaire exhibition, visitors get to marvel at trailblazing designs and find out about pioneering lighting technology.