Following an international competition David Chipperfield Architects has been appointed by Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung to design the new Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. The current museum is of worldwide renown, housing an outstanding collection of predominantly German and French art from the 19th and 20th century, including works from Caspar David Friedrich, Mark Rothko, Vincent van Gogh and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. A courtyard will integrate the existing building into the overall composition, without losing its architectural autonomy. The opening is scheduled for 2010 to coincide with Essen’s year as the European City of Culture centered on the whole Ruhr Area.
"Went to visit the UNESCO world heritage industrial ruin in Essen. It’s not really a ruin, as it only closed a decade ago, but it does have the feeling of an abandoned city ... I was told that during its heyday the Ruhr valley was like Pittsburgh, where the skies were so darkened by the amount of smoke that one had to turn on lamps in the daytime." http://journal.davidbyrne.com/2006/08/essen.html For those who track these things, the Town Hall (Rathaus) of Essen is said to be the tallest town hall in Germany, reaching about 120 meters high. Some have claimed for the heads of die Familie Krupp the title of (uncrowned) Princes of Essen. More succinct information about the Krupp influence will be found HERE. A brief history and timeline at http://www.eurotravelling.net/germany/essen/essen_history.htm.
The area in which Essen lies has been in a region of human occupation for tens of thousands of years. The most well-known recent prehistoric resource being a Megalith tomb found in 1937. Called the Steinkiste (Chest of Stone), often it is referred to as Essen's oldest preserved example of [minimalist] architecture. Essen was part of the settlement areas of several Germanic peoples (Chatti, Bructeri, Marsi). A few of the Chatti moved through Holland on their way to Scotland nearly 2000 years ago, to found the Keith Clan. Some of the region's Archæological resources are on display at the Ruhrlandmuseum in Essen (Rüttenscheid). Visit the Essen culture trail on at the "virtual tour" link HERE.
Around AD 845 (some say 852), Saint Altfrid (circa 800-874), the later Bishop of Hildesheim (Romanesque-style Sainte Mary's cathedral (Dom St. Maria) with its 1000 year old rosebush), founded an abbey for women (cœnobium Astnide) in the center of present-day Essen. This abbey was not a convent in the ordinary sense, but rather was desined as a residence and educational institution for the daughters and the widows of the higher nobility of the Holy Roman Empire, without the need to take an order's vows. The first church, destroyed by fire, was rebuilt, expanded considerably, and is the foundation of the current Essen Cathedral. The Golden Madonna of Essen, donated to the abbey in the late 10th Century, remains the world's oldest known sculpture of the Virgin Mary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essen A general tourist-oriented description can be found at http://www.travelwizzard.de/?p=8. City Site: http://www.essen.de/.
In nearby Essen-Werden one can find the Abbey and Basilica of Saint Ludgerus (the Frisian missionary Liudger), which he founded about 800AD. The Abbey church dates from the mid-13th Century, being rebuilt after a fire. The redesigned structure remains one of the last witnesses to the Romanesque architectural period in the Rhineland area. The Treasury contains a number of early masterpieces of religious art of exceptional importance to the history of the church. http://www.st.ludgerus-werden.de/
March 26, 809: This day commemorates the death date of Saint Liudger (742-809) St. Liudger, born near Utrecht (modern Holland) in about 742, was a missionary to the Friesians and Saxons. He followed after the Martyrdom of Saint Boniface (Apostle to the Hessorum), whose work he wished to continue further to the north (lower Rhine). He studied under Alcuin and enjoyed a lifelong association with him. Ordained a priest in 777 in Cologne, he undertook missionary effort among the pagans near the mouth of the Ems (787AD - near modern Emden, Germany). He was effective because he knew the language of the germanic tribes inhabiting the area.
In 793 Charlemagne (Karl der Große) offered Liudger the Bishopric of Trier, but Liudger declined, expressing a preference to continue his missionary work among the Saxons. In this effort he built a monastery in the more eastern Saxon territories. The city which grew around the monastery came to be known as Münster. He founded a convent for women in about 803 and placed his sister, Sainte Gerburgis at its head. This was the first convent in Westphalia. In 805 he became the first Bishop of Münster. He died in 809. He was entombed in Werden where he had built a monastery and a church. His designation as a saint precedes the practice of canonization by a pope.
Werden is now a suburb of Essen (Essen-Werden). Commuters on the way to the train station (S-Bahnhof), pass by its ancient church (or the one in Steele), perhaps without knowing its history or significance, as this Webmaster would have done some 50 years ago. An 830, der Heliand, die sächsische Bibel in Stabreimen, entsteht im Kloster Werden; An 1550, die Reformation in Werden beginnt mit Peter Ullner, Pfarrer an der Luciuskirche; au 9ème siècle à la bibliothèque de cloître Werdener. La Bible de Wulfilas en argent trouvée des Goths, le Codex Argenteus, à l'empereur Rudolf II à Prague en 1573- aujourd'hui dans Uppsala. An 1877, die Eisenbahnstrecke von Werden nach Essen wird eröffnet. An 1929, Werden verliert nach 612 Jahren die Selbständigkeit - heute Stadtteil von Essen.
Sometime after the end of hostilities, French troops occupied the Ruhr Valley (January 11, 1923). France asserted that full reparations for World War I had not been delivered at the rate agreed under the Versailles Treaty. In protest, the Weimar Republic ceased all payments. In truth, most of the hard currency in circulation, and used for repayment, was supplied by the USA as a loan to victor and loser alike. The severe inflation of the German currency of the 1920's was a purposeful action by Germany to affect the terms and conditions of its loss, to the detriment of the European creditor allies and German population alike. Because Essen lies in the middle of the Ruhr-based manufacturing region (Ruhrgebiet), it was the Krupp presence, among other (Schlotbarone) businesses, that caused the Ruhr Valley to be thought of as the principle place for arms manufacture in Germany during both World Wars. see The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War, William Raymond Manchester (1964, reprint 2003).