The time I have lived in Germany and the time I have lived in Spain is almost half and half. I was born and raised in the German town of Essen, I have been to University there as well and now I am living in Linares in the south of Spain and I have lived here for the past 25 years.
What has struck me over the time is that both cities have a fair amount of things in common. It is like the similarity between big and small brothers. The number of inhabitants indicates that very well. While Essen has around 650.000, Linares is ten times smaller with more or less 65.000 people living here.
To start with, both cities are off the current tourist tracks. While you can easily find a cozy weekend trip to Munich or Seville there is nothing like that for Essen or Linares.
That is not to say that there are no interesting things to discover. Both Essen and Linares have been important mining cities and now are trying to showcase their mining history to a wider public. Essen has achieved that because the “Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex” has been awarded world heritage site status whereas Linares is still working to get a proper recognition of their historic sites but important steps have been taken and there is as well a nice museum which introduces the visitor into what was a vibrant mining city in the past.
Essen is famous for the steel and iron production under the Krupp family while Linares had in the past a large car factory called Santana producing cars for Suzuki and Land Rover.
After these mining and industrial activities came to an end, both cities have undergone huge transformations. The economy of Essen now relies largely on the service industry and important companies have their headquarters located there. Essen is also an important shopping and university town. Linares too has managed to become more of a shopping town and the city has been and still is a University town with its own local campus as a branch of Jaén University specializing in engineering studies. While Essen has more or less successfully undergone a transformation into a shopping and service sector city, Linares is still struggling to attract companies to settle here.
In terms of football both cities are clearly unsuccessful. The “Rot-Weiss-Essen” club is playing in the fourth tier of the German football league system whereas the “Linares Club de Futbol” has a similar ranking position within the Spanish football system.
The connection point between both cities is the Aldi-Supermarket in Linares because the internationally operating Aldi chain was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946 when they took over their mother's store in Essen, which had been in operation since 1913.
The people from Essen and Linares are, overall, pretty much down to earth and have common sense.
With regard to weather, Linares is privileged. During almost the whole year there is splendid sunshine which becomes almost unbearable during July and August. Essen is most of the time more or less the object of grey clouds whereas sunshine days during the summer months turn it into a beautiful city, sometimes almost with a Spanish flair.
While neither Essen nor Linares are iconic cities, one can discover in both places a good slice of what an everyday life is like in Germany or in Spain.
Essen: Wikipedia-article: Essen
Linares: Wikipedia-article: Linares
Andrés Segovia: Wikipedia-article: Andrés Segovia