Cilla Hugel (Villa Hügel) is one of the top sights in the city of Essen. The largest single-family house in Germany was built about 150 years ago by the industrialist and billionaire Alfred Krupp. Villa Hugel was the home of the Krupp family for almost 100 years over about four generations.
The Krupp company mainly produced steel and was one of the largest companies in Europe for many decades in the 19th and 20th centuries. The huge company was for a long time a purely family-run business. For several generations, the Krupps were among the richest industrialist families in the world.
What is special about Villa Hügel ?
Because Friedrich Krupp found his home next to his industrial factories too noisy and dirty, he decided to build a new home for himself and his family outside the city of Essen. Together with his architects, he planned a superlative house around 1870. The Villa Hügel has a living space of over 8000 square metres and consists of over 260 rooms. In good times, the Krupp family had several hundred domestic servants. At the beginning of the 20th century, it is said that as many as 500 people worked in the Villa Krupp.
The technology in the house was also grandiose for the time. For the first time anywhere in the world, an attempt was made to install something like an air-conditioning system in a residential building. The sanitary facilities in the Villa Krupp were also very modern. Even the employees’ rooms each had their own washing facilities. That was completely unusual in those days. The heating, which could be regulated separately in each room, was also very modern for the 19th century.
The park around Villa Krupp is also an absolute sight. The hillside park was built with the house. The huge park (28 hectares in size) is still one of the most beautiful green spaces in the southern Ruhr area. As Alfred Krupp did not want to wait until the trees in the park had grown up, he had a revolutionary idea. He had trees dug up elsewhere, many kilometres away, and planted in his garden. Such a thing was totally new at the time. Even the vehicles to transport the trees had to be developed by the Krupp company.
After about three years of construction, Villa Hügel was ready. Not all the new technology worked satisfactorily at the beginning. Nevertheless, noblemen, other millionaires and even Kaiser Wilhelm were impressed by Villa Hügel for decades.
To us, Villa Hugel looked like a large, powerful castle with a large castle park.
Where is the Villa Hugel ?
There was probably no more beautiful building site in Essen. The opulent house of the Krupp family is in the south of Essen on a hill directly above the river Ruhr. Despite the quiet and beautiful location, it is only a few kilometres to the centre of Essen. The Krupp family also had a railway station built next to Villa Hügel. Even today, the S-Bahn stops here and brings many of the more than 100,000 visitors a year to Villa Hügel. The station is called “Essen Hugel”. It is the S6 line (route Essen – Düsseldorf – Cologne). But you can also come to Villa Hügel by car, parking spaces are available.
What is Villa Hugel today?
The house served as a residence for the Krupp family for about four generations. After the Second World War, Allied forces moved into the former residence. After the then owner Alfried Krupp was released from prison, he got the villa back. Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was sentenced to 12 years in prison after the war for various crimes committed during the Nazi era, such as slave labour. However, he was released early in 1951. However, unlike his ancestors, he did not particularly like the Villa Krupp. That is why he did not move back into his parents’ house. Alfried Krupp set up a foundation and also withdrew from the Krupp company.
The Villa Krupp has been open to the public since 1953. In the first year, several 100,000 people came. Many residents of Essen wanted to see what is perhaps the most famous residential building in Germany.
Today the Villa Krupp houses an exhibition on the Villa Hügel, the Krupp family and, above all, on the history of the Krupp company. The house has become an important sight and tourist attraction, visited by hundreds of people every day.
Admission prices Villa Hugel 2022
The entrance fee is five euros for adults. Children under 14 can visit the “Villa Krupp” in Essen free of charge. You pay the entrance fee right behind the S-Bahn station. So, as far as we know, you have to pay the entrance fee even if you only want to visit the hill park.
The guided tours of Villa Hügel are highly recommended. These cost a few euros extra per person (prices as of the beginning of 2022).
Opening Hours Villa Hugel Essen 2022
The former home of the Krupp family is open from 10 am to 6 pm. Monday is a day of rest. As far as we know, the Hugel Park has longer opening hours: Daily (including non-Monday) from 9:30 am to 7 pm.
Sights and restaurants nearby
If you leave the S-Bahn and walk down the stairs in the other direction, you will come to the Ruhr after a few minutes. The river is dammed up here and forms a lake. Water sports are practised on Lake Baldeney. In summer you will see mainly sailors and rowers. There is a well-known regatta course with a small grandstand, rowing club and boathouse on the dammed Ruhr. Since May 2017, after a very long time, it is once again possible to swim in some places on Lake Baldeney. A historic event – a few decades ago, the Ruhr was still a stinking industrial sewer in the Ruhr area. Even salmon are once again entering the Ruhr through the Rhine.
There are some good and well-known restaurants around Lake Baldeney in the south of Essen. We had a good meal at Hügoloss next to the Essen Hügel S-Bahn station (Greek and international food). But the Parkhaus Hugel (hotel and restaurant), the Südtiroler Stuben and some other restaurants are also well-known.
A few S-Bahn stops further along the same route (S6) you come to the interesting district of Essen-Kettwig (beautiful old town).