Essen is the largest city in the cluster of settlements on the Ruhr River collectively known as the Ruhrgebiet. Essen and the Ruhr area have developed into one of the densest and most varied cultural landscapes in the world, second only to Los Angeles. In addition to the more traditional venues of culture, its industrial heritage sites provide the backdrop for a new and contemporary cultural life. Essen’s oldest known archeological find dates back many thousands of years, a thought‐provoking indication of time and perspective in this region which is now among Europe’s most sophisticated. Essen today is a place full of ready enjoyments – to be found, for example, in its exquisite concert hall, the Philharmonie.