Bochum, Germany

The 2 weeks we spent in Germany were unusually cold (0 to -5C) and moreover, unusually snowy for the area. This region rarely sees snow and an average winter temperature is well above zero. For some reason, frequent heavy snowfalls caught the ground transport off guard. For several days the trains and metro going through Westphalia were either canceled or delayed. The slowed-down or stalled traffic put our travel plans to a halt and instead, gave us a chance to relax after a trip from Russia, both mentally and physically. We stayed by a densely-wooded area and took lots of walks in the snowy forest, explored the city, and enjoyed the weather.

Bochum has a population around 380,000 and has a feeling of a proper German town - clean, serene, and cute. It has a very well-developed metro system, a great downtown area, a wide variety of cultural activities (orchestra, zoo, gardens, planetarium, an art gallery). Nevertheless, I found the city incredibly dull and unexciting.

Snowed-in woods in Bochum
Throughout centuries nothing much seemed to happen here in terms of  historical and cultural developments. It was primarily a mining town, known for coal and steel industries. You can tell how important mining was for this area (and for Germany in general) by visiting The German Mining Museum (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum), the largest of its kind anywhere, which gives you a unique impression of how mining has developed over the centuries. The boys were thrilled to be roaming the underground mines, climbing on, touching, pulling levers of the real mining equipment.

As a weapon-manufacturing and steel-producing area Bochum became a strategic target during the second World War. It was heavily bombed and suffered massive destruction after 150 bomb attacks. Whatever historic buildings and architectural sights Bochum had had, they were decimated during the air-raids.

With the coal resources depleting and steel industry losing its importance, Bochum tried to reinvent itself and invested in developing an exceptional university (Ruhr University) and the arts field.

Landscape of the Ruhr valley from campus
Christmas Market in downtown Bochum

The Mining Museum

The Mining Museum
Sculptures in downtown Bochum

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