Located in the lower Rhine basin, Krefeld has around 240,000 inhabitants. Its roots lie in the village of Gellep: archaeological finds show that the first settlers encamped here some 2000 years ago. The small market community only really began to develop in the 17th century with the emergence of the silk trade and soon began to grow quickly. The textile industry still has a role to play here, although the manufacturing concentrates mainly on innovative technical textiles today. Yet, Krefeld remains the "town of silk and velvet workers," with silk ties from Krefeld in great demand worldwide.
From the early 20th century onwards, chemical, steel, engineering and food industries began to move in. They meanwhile play a leading role. Direct access to the international waterway network from the Rhine Port in Uerdingen has had a positive impact on the town's economic development.
Krefeld is not only the economic hub, but also the cultural heart on the lower Rhine's left bank. Wealthy silk industrialists developed into patrons of the arts and provided the town with numerous cultural institutions:
- The "Burg Linn", a museum exhibiting Roman and Franconian finds, traditional arts and crafts from the lower Rhine.
- The German Textile Museum in Linn
- The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, fine art from the Middle Ages to the present.
- "Haus Esters" and "Haus Lange," modern art, while the houses themselves serve as prime examples of modern architecture)
Numerous Neo-Gothic churches and buildings bearing elements of Art Nouveau and facades dating from the 1870s, each with their own particular architectural charm.
Krefeld and Mönchengladbach "share" a theatre ensemble (opera, operetta, musicals, drama, ballet) and the Lower Rhine Symphony Orchestra. The "Fabrik Heeder" (a restored wing of a former factory), the "Kulturfabrik" and smaller theatres present a wide range of cultural entertainments.
Krefeld also has plenty to offer those interested in sport: Horseracing, golf, football, an ice rink and stadium, water sports on the nearby Elfrather See lake and many other sports provide plenty of choice. Further attractions include parks, a botanical garden, and a renowned zoo.
Krefeld is not your typical "student town", because many students from the region commute between home and university, day in, day out. An excellent traffic network makes this possible. It only takes half an hour to reach Mönchengladbach, the Netherlands, Düsseldorf or Duisburg, and just an hour to get to Cologne or Aachen. However, most students enjoy the cultural events offered here, as well as the pubs, beer gardens and clubs, plus the relaxing atmosphere.