Gelsenkirchen (gĕl´zənkĬrkh´ən), city (1994 pop. 295,040), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, a port on the Rhine-Herne Canal. It is a major industrial and coal-mining center of the Ruhr district. Dominated by heavy industry, it manufactures iron and steel, chemicals, glass, and clothing. Gelsenkirchen was a small village in 1850, but grew rapidly after the opening of the first coal mines in the 1850s. In 1928 the neighboring towns of Buer and Horst were absorbed by Gelsenkirchen. The city has a fine moated castle (16th–18th cent.), a municipal museum, and a zoological park.