Experience nature, enjoy your leisure time and take a break from everyday worries – in one of the most attractive leisure parks in Europe
A botanical garden with rare and beautiful plants, an attractive animal park, a games and sports paradise, a health facility and spa, a place to meet up in your free time with huge meadow, play and barbeque areas, a gastronomic place to meet with stylish restaurants, open air museum and concert arena – the Grugapark is all of these things.
The extensive park, centrally positioned in Essen and the Ruhr region, offers the best leisure opportunities for all generations at every time of the year. Whether you want to experience nature, visit an event or just want to take a break from everyday worries – you are always welcome! The Grugapark Essen developed from the Great Ruhr Landscape Gardening Exhibition in 1929 and now, with its 700,000 square metres, is definitely one of the largest and most attractive leisure parks in Europe.
The landscape park with its valuable, old tree population is among the most impressive surprises in the Ruhr region.
The “Hortus botanicus assindiensis” is the oldest part of the Grugapark and was planted as early as 1927 as a teaching and experimental garden. This has developed into one of the largest collections of conifers in Europe today, as well as possessing an old wood population with botanical rarities. The mild Essen climate benefits the collection of plants from around the world so that even American Coast Redwoods, evergreen oaks, real almond trees and Princess trees can winter permanently in the open. The Garden carries out scientific exchanges with about 900 botanical gardens around the world as part of the international seed exchange.
The aim was and is to create an educational facility for “green professions”. Even today apprentices from the Gartenbauzentrum (Gardening Centre) in the Külshammerweg and the Gardening Department of the Vocational College East in Essen, as well as students from the University Duisburg-Essen, learn their knowledge of plant species here. The City Botanical Gardens were also created as an educational facility for the people, to give them insights into the fascinating variety of the flora from all corners of the globe. In 1995 a modern environmental education centre, the Schule Natur (Nature School), was added to the Park, which brings schoolchildren and adults closer to the world of plants and animals with around 1,000 tours per year today.
Thus today the Botanical Garden is an attractive location for people interested in botany and gardening. Using plant labels and information boards every visitor experiences a great deal about nature and plants around the world. Visitors can research information, pictures and the location of the botanical treasures using the Plant Encyclopaedia on DVD or an Info terminal in the Orangerie. The Rare Plants Market and the Model garden are additional attractions in the garden environment.
The Grugapark is not only one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Europe but also the largest open air museum in the Ruhr region, with an important sculpture collection. As early as ancient Greek and Roman times it was understood that the sculptor’s work was essential for parks formed from nature. Sculpture was even given a fixed place in the draft phase by garden designers in the European park landscapes of centuries past.
When designing a park landscape there are always points which require emphasis, such as where paths cross, large, open areas or openings set against the horizon. Architects like to plan art works for these places which bring the park to life and set the tone. Garden architecture and sculpture work together to form a harmonious whole. Here, each work of art has two roles: one in terms of garden architecture and one aesthetically as a work of art that creates atmosphere. A park does not gain a reputation from botanical variety alone but also from the harmony of its overall artistic conception. Designed nature is the most beautiful and at the same time most changeable environment for enjoying and keeping art.
Since 1929 music events on Sundays have been part of the cultural offering of the Grugapark. It has now developed into a top address for festivals and concerts. The regular audience and the many visitors from outside the region appreciate the high level performances under the tent roof of the Music Pavilion. One special highlight is the Parkfest lasting several days which attracts up to 40,000 visitors every year. They offer a southern attitude to life with live music on various stages, exotic delicacies and fantastic mythical creatures, which mix with the crowd on the Kranichwiese, at the foot of the Gruga Tower. The high point of every Parkfest is the spectacular fireworks display with musical accompaniment. Over the years the Tummelwiese has also become a popular location for events. Up to 20,000 visitors come to the open air concerts in the summer months on the extensive grassed area. Stars such as Peter Maffay, Xavier Naidoo, Udo Jürgens and Placido Domingo appreciate the special atmosphere in the Grugapark. Enjoying music in the open air in the middle of a beautiful park landscape – an unforgettable experience.
The events in and around the Orangerie have also become a centre of attraction. Among the most successful are the “Essen erntet” (Essen harvests), the Rare Plants Market and other exhibitions.
From eagles, parrots and polar owls to rabbits, ponies and goats – exotic and domestic animals let you get really close up. About 500 animals live in the Grugapark; the most varied species of bird from eagles and parrots to eagle owls in the bird enclosure, and flamingos, ibises and many more in one of the largest aviaries in Germany. But fallow deer, ponies and the trusting four legged animals in the Small Animals Zoo also have their homes in the park. Visitors particularly appreciate the numerous possibilities for direct contact with the animals. The cheeky mynahs invite you for a chat, Guinea pigs and rabbits like to be stroked. The popular Nature School tours allow children to get to know the animals as close as possible. Children can get to know the animals up close in the much loved tours of the Nature School.
However, keeping animals and the successful breeding programme in the Grugapark also assist in maintaining and protecting endangered species. Most of the numerous young animals are given to other zoos. Furthermore, the Park is a rescue station for the Untere Landschaftsbehörde (Lower Landscape Authority) for exotic birds such as parrots, birds of prey and owls.
The Grugapark offers numerous such possibilities for all age groups. Small and larger children can dig and run around away from the traffic in the various playgrounds. There are sports facilities for the most popular ball games and also for boules and chess available free of charge or for a small fee. The illuminated main path in the Grugapark is perfect for running or walking in the evenings after work.
The “Park Spa” offers pure relaxation as a fitness and spa oasis in the most beautiful surroundings. You can breathe in the salty air in the Graduation Tower. Use the opportunity – in the Grugapark the possibilities to improve your health and wellbeing are just beyond the edge of the path. Whether riding in the Pony Yard, going for a relaxing walk or enjoying archery, going for a stylish Japanese sauna or having fun playing beach volleyball – it is all there in the Grugapark.