The city of Bochum is officially 687 years old, but its origins as a community date back to the early stone age. Prehistoric remains discovered in what is now the urban area indicate a number of settlements in the period 4000 to 1800 BCE. Bochum received its town charter from Count Engelbert II in 1321.
Despite evidence that the excavation of coal began as early as the 14th century, the town remained a modest agricultural community of only local importance until the 19th century, when coal mining took over as the defining influence for generations to come. The transition from surface to underground mining after 1832 heralded the golden age of the industry in Bochum. Following the completion of connections to the most important Ruhr railway lines in 1860 and 1874, Bochum passed the 100,000 inhabitant mark in 1905. A 1906 census found 22,844 miners living there, responsible for producing some five million tonnes of coal, but the industry went into terminal decline in the early 1960s.
Pits were rapidly closed and the associated steel industry declined in importance. The last working mine, the Hannover colliery, closed in 1973. The city sought to shift its commercial focus to services. The Ruhr Park in the district of Harpen, first opened in 1964, is still Germany's biggest out-of-town shopping mall. The Ruhr University was founded in 1965. 1989 saw the opening of the first underground transport link between two independent German towns with the U-35 subway between Bochum and Herne. In 1990, Bochum and Dortmund jointly hosted the first all-Germany athletics meeting since the Second World War.
Bochum, "where your heart still counts" as local celebrity Herbert Gronemeyer sang, lies at the heart of the Ruhr valley. The Ruhr University is one of Germany's largest with more than 33,000 students. A total of six higher and further education institutions provide 6,000 jobs, so the education sector is one of the city's biggest employers. The universities and the technology centres located nearby are the face of the "new" Bochum.
The Bochum Playhouse and Starlight Express, the musical which opened in 1988 in a purpose-built theatre, draw attention from well beyond the city limits. The German Coal Mining Museum is a unique attraction. Bochum also boasts a Planetarium and the German Railway Museum. The centrally located Stadtpark, laid out in the style of an English Garden in 1876, is the oldest landscape garden in the Ruhr.
With its romantic boating pond and extensive fountains, the Bismarck tower of 1909, a zoo, a rose garden and a huge variety of trees covering a total area of 311,000 square metres, it is one of the finest of its type in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Priory Church of St Peter and Paul is the oldest church in the city. Between 785 and 800, the Emperor Charlemagne maintained an imperial court on the site, nowadays encircled by the Nordring, Bleichstrasse, Untere Marktstrasse and Grosse Beckstrasse.
Visitors to the Priory Church will find a Romanesque baptismal font dating from around 1175. A wooden mission chapel dedicated to St Peter was erected on the adjacent hill. Famous Bochum natives include journalist and author Peter Scholl-Latour, former criminal defence lawyer and Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily, and singer Gronemeyer, whose hits include the ode to his home town Bochum, and the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ anthem Zeit, dass sich was dreht.
- Priory Church
- German Coal Mining Museum
- Bochum Planetarium
- Bochum Playhouse
Bundesliga club VfL Bochum 1848 has made the city known nationwide. As the name suggests, VfL boast a sporting tradition dating back more than 150 years. Since 1971-2 the club has belonged either to the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2, including 22 unbroken seasons in the top flight until 1993. Between 1990 and 1994, suburban club SG Wattenscheid also appeared in the Bundesliga. The SG Wattenscheid women's team were promoted back to the Women's Bundesliga in 2007.
President OC Venue
- Hermann Korfmacher (President Westphalia and Athletics Association)
- Shary Reeves
- Dariusz Wosz