While travelling in various places in Finland, exchange students are used to face the question by locals, why they chose Kouvola. Most of the people are amused, how a foreigner ends up here, in the betonihelvetti of Finland, when there are definitely more appealing cities around. After living here for several months, I personally grew to like the city with its concrete charm. And since I know that holiday resorts can sometimes get too astounding, I’ll give you the top five German cities, where you will feel immediately at home.
1) Chemnitz: Located in the West of Saxony, Chemnitz belonged to the German Democratic Republic and was renamed “Karl-Marx Stadt” between 1953 and 1990. Around 250k people live there today. Besides a monumental head of Karl Marx, the city’s major sightseeing hits are a tower from the Middle Ages surrounded by 60’s and 70’s buildings and the colourful chimney of a power station. Chemnitz has its own technical university and offers memberships in football and hockey clubs.
2) Ludwigshafen: Close to French-German border and the spectacular city of Mannheim, Ludwigshafen is situated next to the river Rhine. Temperatures can reach 40 degrees in the summer and the cityscape is characterized by a large traffic system and industrial sites of chemical companies, such as BASF. Ludwigshafen obtains a university and an institute which focuses on East Asian studies.
3) Jena: Every time I went by car from Frankfurt to Berlin or the way back, I’m excited for passing by this concrete paradise. While other cities reduce the amount of brutalist architecture, I get the feeling, that Jena is quite proud of it. On the contrary, the amount of apartment blocks up the hills seems to grow. However, the city is quite old and about twenty of the citizens are students. Due to airstrikes in 1945 most of the city’s old core has been destroyed and was substituted by buildings of different architectural styles.
4) Bochum: This city belongs to an area, which is commonly known as “Ruhrpott” (area around the river Ruhr), that had been famous for its mining industry. Over the last years the whole area tried to develop in order to increase the living standards and remove the destruction owing to the enormous coal mining in the last century. The mining museum in Bochum was one of the tourist attractions in 2010, when the area was elected as European Capital of Culture.
5) Wuppertal: Located close to Bochum, Wuppertal is famous for its suspension railway, which exists already over a century, and its rainy weather. The city offers museums with modern exhibitions, a theatre and an opera. However, according to some German tourists, most of the city looks quite abandoned.
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