Sunderland has been twinned with Essen, Germany since 1949.

Essen is the sixth largest city in Germany, with around 600,000 inhabitants and is the second largest city in North Rhine Westphalia. Essen was chosen to be twinned with Sunderland because of a common dependence on coal mining and heavy industry. Like Sunderland, Essen has seen tremendous structural changes in its economy over the last few decades, reflected most dramatically in the demise of the steel and coal industries. The city has, however, managed to retain its industrial heritage and focus on energy and technology. Businesses operating in the fields of electro technology, mechanical engineering, chemical production, research and new technologies have expanded and continue to create new jobs. The Essen economy is increasingly dominated by international trade, the service sector and an expanding leisure and cultural industry.

  • Sunderland established it's twinning link with Essen in 1949. 
  • A Declaration of Friendship was established in 1979. 
  • Sunderland and Essen celebrated the 60th anniversary of the twinning link in 2009.

Why Twin? Twinning was encouraged by the Home Office after the Second World War to promote peace and harmony through friendship between towns in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. The activity between Sunderland's twin towns, Essen in Germany and Saint-Nazaire in France has been aimed to a large extent at introducing our young people to other young people in the hope that the friendships they develop will increase their knowledge and understanding of different cultures and open their eyes to opportunities available within the wider world. More recently, opportunities have been taken up to exchange experience with colleagues in Essen and St Nazaire in areas of shared interest.

For more information on Essen, please visit the Essen webpage.