A symbol of the Age of Industrialisation
There is no other name that is as closely associated with the city of Essen as the one of Krupp. The entrepreneurial family ushered in the Age of Industrialisation in Germany in the early 19th century with the founding of their first cast steel factory. At the beginning of the 1870s, Alfred Krupp, who grew his company into one of the most important industrial enterprises of the time, had Villa Hügel built as a prestigious residence for his family in Essen.
For seventy years, generations of the Krupp family have lived in the villa above Lake Baldeney with its 269 rooms on a total of 8,100 square metres of living and usable space. At the same time, the impressive building, set in an English landscape park, served as the venue for receptions and festivities. Emperors and kings, politicians and dictators, entrepreneurs from around the world as well as scientists and artists were welcomed here as guests. Following confiscation of the property by the Americans at the end of World War Two, it was returned to the family in 1952. At that time, it was made available to the general public in the spirit of promoting art, science, and culture. Villa Hügel is currently owned by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, which has opened it to the public as a museum.
Visitors can learn more about the family dynasty’s and the company’s history alike in the “Little House”. The rooms of the former guesthouse, mostly restored to their original state, host the Historische Ausstellung Krupp (Krupp historical exhibition) to explore the question of how the company was able to hold its own for more than two centuries in spite of some pervasive economic crises, social upheavals, and multiple wars. Visitors are also invited to go looking for traces of history on their own there.
A tour of the former reception salons, the dining room, and the library in the “Great House” affords an insight into the lifestyle of the upper middle class. The banqueting hall and a representative living room on the upper floor are equipped with a glass roof. In addition to historical furniture, such as Alfred Krupp’s massive double desk, and a large number of family portraits, the elegant tapestries with which the Krupp family decorated their home stand out particularly. From 1913 onwards, the residence’s “Upper Hall” was specially redesigned for the tapestry series “The Seven Liberal Arts”. The decoration of the Garden Hall that connects the Great and Small Houses was designed in the style of Louis XIV to match the tapestry sequence “Scenes from the Acts of the Apostles”.
Villa Hügel is perched in extensive parkland that has changed its appearance several times over the centuries and that attracts more than 100,000 visitors per year today. The old trees conceal some artistic sculptures and exotic plants probably brought to the park between 1890 and 1914. Another aspect sets this unusual “single-family house” apart: It has its very own railway station, Essen-Hügel, inaugurated by the Krupps’ always-welcome guest, Emperor Wilhelm II, back in 1890. Rapid transit line 6 stops here, enabling a resource-saving journey today.