Recklinghausen is the northernmost city in the Ruhr-Area and the capital of the Recklinghausen District. It borders the rural Münsterland and is characterized by large fields and farms in the north and industry in the south. Recklinghausen is the 60th-largest city in Germany and the 22nd-largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia.
First mentioned in 1017 as Ricoldinchuson, in 1150 the city was the center of the surrounding Vest Recklinghausen. In 1236, the city of Recklinghausen received town privileges. As part of the County of Vest, ownership of Recklinghausen changed several times in the 15th and 16th century, and in 1576, the entire county was pawned to the Elector of Cologne. In 1582-83, again in 1586, and again in 1587, the city was plundered by partisan armies during the Cologne War, a feud over religious parity in Electorate of Cologne and electoral influence in the Holy Roman Empire.
Recklinghausen was also the site of more than 100 witchcraft trials (1514–1710). The trial activity reached a climax twice: In the time period of 1580/81 and again in 1588/89. The last person to be convicted of witchcraft was Anna Spickermann; after spending 16 months in prison, she was sentenced to death by sword and burned afterward.
Circa 1600, the administration of the Vest Recklinghausen was divided into two parts, with the eastern part administered by Recklinghausen. The town of Recklinghausen including the parish of Recklinghausen and the parishes Ahsen, Datteln, Flaesheim, Hamm-Bossendorf, Henrichenburg, Herten, Horneburg, Oer, Suderwich, Waltrop and Westerholt. Circa 1815, the Vest was made a Bürgermeisterei, with the town becoming the seat. In 1819, Herten joined the Recklinghausen Bürgermeisterei, and Erkenschwick followed in 1821.
As a target of the Oil Campaign of World War II, oil production at Recklinghausen/Forstezung was bombed by the RAF on January 15, 1945; and South Recklinghausen (Recklinghausen Süd) was captured by the US 137th Infantry on April 1, 1945.
Recklinghausen is home to a museum of icons, which includes more than 1,000 Orthodox works from Russia, Greece and the Balkan countries, as well as early CopticChristian art from Egypt. The icon museum - the largest outside the Orthodox world - was founded in 1956 and reopened after renovation in February 2006 for its 50th anniversary.
The Ruhrfestpielhaus, whose remodeling in 2001 won the German Architecture Award is home of "Die Liegende Nr 5", a famous sculpture by Henry Moore. At the Lohtor in front of a memorial for the victims of World War I, there is a large sculpture made of more than 30,000 bricks by Per Kirkeby.
Recklinghausen hosts the annual Ruhrfestspiele, a cultural festival with an international reputation. Every year there is a cultural programme with many national and international theatrical productions starting on 1 May. In 2008 the programme included the play Speed the Plow starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum as one of the major productions. The main theatrical stage is the Ruhrfestspielhaus but other theatres in and around Recklinghausen participate.
The two major motorways crossing the area of the city are the A2 and the A43. The city is connected to the larger waterways by the Rhein-Herne-Kanal. Recklinghausen has two railway stations. The Central Station (Recklinghausen Hauptbahnhof), which is served by Intercity and EuroCity services, and the South Station (Recklinghausen Südbahnhof).
Lohtor-square with Sankt Peter´s church and sculpture of Per Kirkeby