Gelsenkirchen-die Nr. 1 im Pott (Silhouette) flag 90 x 150 cm
Gelsenkirchen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the Ruhr area. Its population in 2006 was c. 267,000.
Gelsenkirchen was first documented in 1150, but it remained a tiny village until the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution led to the growth of the entire area. In 1840, when the mining of coal began, 6000 inhabitants lived in Gelsenkirchen; in 1900 the population had increased to 138,000.
In the early 20th century Gelsenkirchen was the most important coal mining town in Europe. It was called the "city of a thousand fires", for the flames of mine gasses being flared during the nights. In 1928 Gelsenkirchen was merged with the adjoining cities of Buer and Horst. The city bore the name Gelsenkirchen-Buer, until it was renamed Gelsenkirchen in 1930. During the Nazi era Gelsenkirchen remained a centre of coal production and oil refining, and for this reason it was bombed by Allied air raids in World War II. During the war, it was the site of a women's subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Today in Gelsenkirchen there are no collieries any more and Gelsenkirchen is searching for a new image, having been hit for decades with one of the highest unemployment rates of Germany. Today Germany's largest solar power plant is located in the city. In Gelsenkirchen-Scholven there is a coal fired power station with the tallest chimneys in Germany (302 m). Gelsenkirchen is home of the famous football club Schalke 04, which is named after the borough Schalke, while the club's arena, the Veltins-Arena, is located in the borough Erle.
Fußball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, commonly known as simply FC Schalke 04 or Schalke, is a German football club originally from the Schalke district of Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia. Schalke has long been one of the most popular football teams in Germany, even though major successes have been rare since the club's heyday in the 1930s and early 1940s. The football team is the biggest part of a larger sports club with more than 84,000 members (May 2010) making it the second largest sports club in Germany. Other activities offered by the club include basketball, handball, and track and field. Schalke 04 won its first major European trophy in 1997 by defeating Internazionale on penalty kicks for the UEFA Cup in Milan. Pope John Paul II became an honorary member of the club in 1987 after celebrating a mass in the Parkstadion. Schalke has a rivalry with Borussia Dortmund (see Revierderby) and also has a friendly relationship with Nuremberg. The mascot of the club is called Erwin (also Ährwin.)