Villa Hügel in Essen

February 22 2005

This afternoon, I snuck away from Dortmund one more time for one more sightseeing side trip.  I had a number of suggestions, everything from castles to stone circles to coal mines (but Tim Latta correctly pointed out in yesterday's thread that I only need to go to Hyde Park Chicago for that!).  Since I only had a little bit of time, I decided to take one of Haiko's other suggestions and visit Villa Hügel in Essen.  As described on the website:

The Villa Hügel is situated in the suburb of Bredeney in Essen. It is the former residence of the industrial tycoon, Alfred Krupp and his family.
Completed in 1873, the building was used by three generations of the family as a home and for representative purposes for the next seventy years.
Well, the directions on the website weren't perfect, since they said to follow nonexistent signs, but somehow the human map found his way anyway (eventually found some signs!).  I arrived at the gate, and paid my 1 Euro entry fee and drove in.  

The grounds are very nice -- perfectly manicured, lush green grass (even this time of year), everything in its place.  The building's south face sparkled in the afternoon sun.  Only one problem -- no people around, and without a lemmings factor, it wasn't clear where I was supposed to go to tour the building!  There was only one sign anywhere, in Deutsch of course.  So, I walked around the entire house, finding no obvious entrance.  Confused and dejected, I got in the car to drive away.  But then it hit me -- I rang vowe on his mobile and asked, "have you been to Villa Hügel?"  He laughed when I explained the problem.  He said, "just go up to the front door and open it!"  Uh, ok, it doesn't look very welcoming...

Image:Villa Hügel in Essen

Sure enough, I went inside and found a security officer hidden in an alcove.  He waved me in and I began my self-guided tour.  The Villa is no Versailes, but it is impressively detailed.  Most of the accoutrements are made of wood, from floor to ceiling.  There is an expansive library area overlooking the south yard, and a great room upstairs which was configured for an orchestral concert.  There was also a large room configured as if for a business meeting, like a board of directors.  I have to admit I'd be a bit distracted in a meeting setting like this...

Image:Villa Hügel in Essen

The drive back to Dortmund wasn't quite as much fun.  Traffic on A40 was very slow due to some earlier construction.  I eventually detoured to another Autobahn, stopped for dinner, and then headed on.  This all meant that I was able to find some room, and somehow coax that 1.4L Ford Fusion to (very briefly) hit 160 kph.  Not an easy feat!  I suspect my driving in Munich will be a little different.

Upon return to Dortmund, I had to refuel the car in advance of returning it. It cost Eur. 29 to fill up (US$37) -- only half a tank!  I don't want to make a political statement as to whether we are fortunate or foolish to be paying US$2 a gallon for gas in the States, but either way, it was eye-opening.

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