Essen is a city which combines nature and culture and can document this with many good examples: 2.6 million trees, a World Heritage Site, European Capital of Culture 2010, European Green Capital 2017, important architecture from the Aalto Theatre to Zollverein colliery, a garden city (Margarethenhöhe) of European significance, an architecturally important cathedral with valuable treasury, unspoiled valleys as well as urban planning which combines city and nature.
The landscaped city can be impressively experienced on the NaturLinie 105: the roughly 20-km route offers idyllic green valleys with small streams, for example Hexbach Valley, park-like cemeteries, green residential estates, such as the Moltke Quarter, as well as woods and nature conservation areas. The Grugapark is offered as an excursion – it can also be easily reached by bicycle. In addition to historical parks, such as Borbeck Castle Park, Essen also has new large parks, for example Krupp Park in the ThyssenKrupp Quarter.
The NaturLinie 105 runs through the built-up city but illustrates at many places the efforts of the Essen city planners at the start of the reform architecture era to bring city green into the city.
Heights and hills, valleys and dales – Essen's topography is diverse and presents itself from its most beautiful side along the route of the NaturLinie 105. The NaturLinie 105 passes through the Emscher zone, Hellweg zone and the Ruhr Valley – passengers quickly realise: Essen is a green and hilly city!
As regards the climate, the Ruhr area is situated in the west wind belt with cool, moderate summers and moderately cold winters – that means that Essen has pleasant temperatures. Essen's proximity to the Dutch coast gives it an Atlantic climate.
Reform architecture developed in the 20th century; it was characterised, on the one hand, by an awareness of tradition but, on the other hand, a desire to achieve reform. The aim was to create an urban development unit with broad ventilation zones in the form of wide roads and continuous green spaces.
This concept included parks, tree-lined avenues and front gardens right in the heart of the urban area. On the NaturLinie 105 these urban development concepts can be experienced particularly well in the Moltke Quarter, the Krupp Residenzaue estate and in the Hirtsiefer estate. There you can see the artistic architecture with slightly curved lines propagated by Camillo Sitte. Squares and green spaces were inserted into the composition taking both functional and artistic aspects into account. The parks were designed to be spacious with, in some cases, large play and sports areas in the direct vicinity of houses. Even the tennis courts were already planned in 1908. The ideas of reform architecture, the concept of the people's park and the garden city are still widely acclaimed today and make these city quarters well worth living in.
At the start of the 20th century, reform architecture turned against historicism by attempting to introduce functional and simple forms into architecture. Key elements were light and air, sanitary facilities and lots of green – the focus was on people.
"The entire southern half of the city area […] is exclusively residential. During the expansion of this residential area the old system of closed individual park areas was abandoned and the entire residential area is interwoven with smaller or larger green spaces. Of the larger parks, special mention should be made of Bernewäldchen with its wonderful old trees situated in one of the most beautiful major residential districts."
(Rudolf Korte, Vom Essener Grün, from: Deutschlands Städtebau Essen, Dari-Verlag, H. Ehlgötz, 1925)
Numerous natural monuments, for example ancient sycamore and yew trees, lime trees and sycamore maples as well as numerous boulders of various sizes are to be found along the NaturLinie.
Borbeck Castle is the pearl of the Borbeck green valleys. The northwest district of Borbeck is rich in green valleys (charming, unspoiled green areas in rolling countryside) – which were already introduced into the overall green system of the city area through a newly created estate plan. Today's Borbeck district still has these green valleys, which make it a suburb similar to a garden city. Rudolf Korte, Director of Horticulture of the city of Essen, explained this urban development situation of green and urbanisation in a charming image: "The Borbeck green valleys have a 'green hand' with 'five fingers' and the Castle Park in the centre." (Korte, Rudolf: "Vom Essener Grün"; Deutschlands Städtebau Essen, Dari-Verlag, H. Ehlgötz, 1925). The NaturLinie 105 opens up this green system to the visitor as it crosses all five fingers.