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Recklinghausen – home of the Ruhrfestspiele theatre festival

Mayors reveal their insider tips in the series “My city”. Part 33: Mayor Christoph Tesche from Recklinghausen.

© dpa/Caroline Seidel - Das Festspielhaus der Ruhrfestspiele

Mayor Tesche, what is special about your city?

Recklinghausen does not only present the charm of its old industrial culture as part of the Ruhr District, but also has many rural characteristics reminiscent of the nearby Münsterland. In Recklinghausen, for example, town meets country, coal mining meets agricultural Westphalia, nature meets industry and past meets present. Recklinghausen is a city with a long history that was already known as a flourishing trade centre in the 11th century. Today you can still glimpse traces of long-gone urban structures in the historical centre such as the wall surrounding the old town. Modern buildings like the Palais Vest shopping centre have also made their mark on the cityscape. Nevertheless, Recklinghausen is not only known for its old town with its many small owner-managed shops and restaurants, but above all for the Ruhrfestspiele, the annual theatre festival that is being held in Recklinghausen for the 70th time in 2016. In the heart of the Stadtgarten you will find the Ruhrfestspielhaus, the festival centre that becomes the hub of the city’s cultural life every year in May.  


What do you see when you look out of your office window?

I look directly onto Rathausplatz and its fountain with the sculpture Citizens Carrying Their City. For me, this work of art is a symbol and fundamental representation of our city society and my task as mayor. After all, a city cannot flourish without the voluntary commitment of its citizens. I consider it my duty to support these people and place their welfare at the centre of attention.


“Vacation feeling at the Rhine-Herne Canal”


Where in your city do you most like to spend your time?

This question is not very easy to answer because Recklinghausen really does have so many beautiful places. If I have to make a decision though, then one of my favourites is the city port on the Rhine-Herne Canal in the Recklinghausen-Süd district. A cycle path leads straight there through several city districts, and I enjoy spending pleasant hours at the waterside recreation area or under palm trees at the beach bar. When the ships slowly pass by and the weather is right, it almost feels like being on vacation.


Which of your city’s personalities do you value most?

Our city has many significant historical and contemporary personalities. In the light of the recent jubilee, the 70th anniversary of the Ruhrfestspiele, I spontaneously think of Wilhelm Bitter, a man who left behind the largest permanent legacy after this term of office as mayor. He was the person who did not lose his sense of charity and hospitality during the hardship of the immediate post-war period and made Recklinghausen the city of the Ruhrfestspiele with help from the mayor of Hamburg and the Hamburg State Theatre.

What would you like to show tourists?

In the city centre there is a small, rather hidden path called Dorotheenstieg. It runs behind buildings adjacent to larger pedestrian precincts. It has large cobblestones, and today you can still see the old tracks made by the wheels of carts that used to clatter over the dark stones. I find this place very atmospheric, and it is well worth a visit. Another great place that I like to show visitors is the Stadtgarten, a green oasis that invites you to while away the time. There is a great deal to discover during a stroll through this park, because the Stadtgarten is also the home of the zoo, the impressive Ruhrfestspielhaus and the Westphalian Public Observatory, which includes a planetarium.


“Making contact at the gourmet festival”


Where can visitors best get to know the people of your city?

There are many large city festivals in Recklinghausen where you can easily make contact – for example, with a coffee or a glass of wine during Zu Gast in Recklinghausen, the gourmet festival at Rathausplatz in the summer. Not only inhabitants of Recklinghausen, but many people from nearby towns are also attracted to the city by Recklinghausen Leuchtet in autumn. This festival of lights is always worth a visit, and it is one of the most popular events of the year with over 200,000 participants. On the other hand, you can also simply go shopping at one of the weekly markets near the town hall, in Suderwich or the Süd district. There you will often meet real Recklinghausen veterans who have many a tale to tell.

And where do you most like to spend your vacations?

As mayor I am often very busy and don’t have a lot of free time. That’s why it’s all the more important to me that I spend time with my family on vacation and can simply be a husband and father. We enjoy travelling together to European cities. We very much like Barcelona, Lisbon and Rome, for example.