“Once a father realised his son was not exactly bright, he simply registered him as a worker at the Zeche. Back in the days, up to 20.000 tons of coal had been mined here, at what was once the most modern coal mining facility in the whole world. Such was the heyday that everybody here could raise a family on coal … ” Wow. I listen to the stories rolling off the tongue of our passionate guide, one storyteller of a kind, standing right inside the epicentre of Germany’s coal mining industry about 100 years ago. It is crazy. I try to imagine the hopes and misery of the people working here, believing in the miracle of (economic) progress and whose everyday life must have been hard indeed. The Industrial World Heritage Site & Mining Complex “Zeche Zollverein” close to the city of Essen in the northwestern Ruhr district of Germany is something you should really come and see. Part of its “charm” comes from the unique combination of, say, a gourmet restaurant set inside a former coking plant, a multimedia museum housed next to gigantic furnaces. The industrial mining complex is clearly alive: Visitors mingle, events take place, agencies rent co-working spaces here, there is even a public pool as well as the gourmet restaurant. Anything else? “We are just about to open another large restaurant for our tour groups”, Martina Tendick, who is responsible for tourism development at the site, explains. Her eyes are alight with the passion for sustainable management of this precious World Heritage site, located close to the European cultural capital city of Essen. What an exciting visit I enjoy here!
Really really exciting. I would recommend everybody (including myself 😉 ) to come back here and spend an entire day at the site: Pool, museums, gourmet restaurant and the unique idiosyncrasy of this old mining complex telling stories of a glorified past. Next to all the World Heritage Sites that I have already experienced as part of my trip through Germany – “cruise-cycling” along the Romantic Rhine valley, being dressed like a Roman at the Römerkastell Saalburg, walking through gardens & palaces of Augustusburg near Brühl, “fighting” at the gladiator school in Trier or eating typical German Bratwurst at the Historic Wurstkuchl Sausage Tavern in Regensburg – the Zeche Zollverein industrial mining complex near Essen is clearly worth seeing. A must-see in terms of German history and architecture: Thank you so much to all of you who made me feel quite strongly about this place!
Disclaimer: I have been invited by the German Tourist Board in order to travel to & experience several World Heritage Sites in Germany. All opinions are my own.