Dortmund is located in the heart of the German federal state Noord-Rijnland-Westfalen, in the Ruhr area. The center was heavily bombed during World War II. Although some buildings have been restored, the image of a modern city dominates. Dortmund is particularly known as a shopping town, with big department stores and small specialty shops. It's also a green city: almost half of the urban area is occupied by parks, fountains and forests.
Dortmund has about 600,000 inhabitants and is therefore the largest city of the Ruhr area.
The city lies in the west of Germany, north of the Rur river. The upper part of the Emscher runs from east to west through the city. The city is linked with the North Sea via the Dortmund-Ems Canal. The inner part of the Dortmund port has lost much value, and part of the port is now used for pleasure cruising.
Dortmund was formerly known as an industrial city (coal and steel), but has focussed on other sectors since the mid eighties. Today it's a center of services and technology. Because the city is a hub of railways and highways, transportation and logistics also play an important role in the local economy.
However, Dortmund has to contend with one of the highest unemployment rates in Germany: many people who had work in the "old" industry, don't have a place in the "new economy" of Dortmund.
Dortmund Airport is located just east of the city and is easily accessible by rental car via the Ruhr highway (A44), or via the Dortmunder Ring. The route to the airport is clearly signposted. Dortmund airport is mainly used by budget airlines.
The city has an excellent public transportation system, which is part of the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr. Via the integrated system of trains, metros and buses, you can not only comfortably reach the diverse areas of Dortmund, but also other places in the Ruhr area. There is also the hanging monorail (H-Bahn), connecting the two universities in the city with Eichlinghofen and the Science Park.
Dortmund was rebuilt after World War II with wide streets, with which every area of the city is easily accessible by rental car. However, there is a great shortage of parking space in the center of the city. It's true that the large department stores have parking garages, but demand is exceeding the supply. You can at best park your rental car on the border of downtown and travel further with public transportation. To reach other places, Dortmund is ideally situated: there are six highways to the city (A1, A2, A40, A42, A44, and A45).
The city has a good selection of hotels, most in the middle class. Many conferences are held in Dortmund, and then it is advised to book your accommodation well in advance.
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