Zeche Zollverein- The “Eiffel Tower of the Ruhr area” with an ice rink and a factory swimming pool

Hi Hive friends!
Have you ever been to the Ruhr area in Germany? It's probably not the most popular destination in Germany, but it's an exciting journey to another time. The Zeche Zollverein, which I would like to introduce to you today, is a disused coal mine in Essen, my birthplace and hometown. Today it is an important industrial monument. Since 2001, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many visitors from abroad come here to see the old mine.

The heyday of the colliery

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The Zollverein colliery was founded around 1834, when hard coal was found there for the first time. It was mined underground and transported by rail to other cities. Soon it was the colliery in Germany that produced the most coal. Shortly after, people even started to build coke ovens to bake the hard coal there and convert it into coke, which was needed for the production of iron. The colliery even survived the Second World War almost unscathed. In 1986, however, it was shut down, and since then the entire building is considered a monument. In its heyday, e.g. in 1890, it produced about 1 million tons of hard coal - simply an incredible amount. More and more shafts were gradually built and the mine was now considered the largest and most efficient mine in the world. Its final depth was about 1000m. In total, more than 240 million tons of coal were mined! The approx. 8,000 miners were assigned to shift changes, day and night. This was probably one of the most strenuous jobs one could do in those days. Until the closure, a total of 600,000 miners worked in the colliery. Unbelievable, isn't it?! It is not for nothing that it is nicknamed the "Most beautiful colliery of the Ruhr" , "marvel of technology" or "cathedral of industrial culture".
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Here you can see a cafe in the Zeche Zollverein, but when I was there with my family, no one was sitting there, I think this circumstance was due to the corona pandemic. However, I didn't think it was a bad idea to create a cafe in the rustic ambience, especially when the hungry visitors were done with the tour. On this day, however, we had to go somewhere else to eat.
The construction of shaft XII was of particular importance: a complete, fully rationalized mine was to be built. It was considered a technical and aesthetic masterpiece at the time. At that time, the statement of the architects was clear: they had the claim that the buildings of the industry no longer clouded the cityscape, but should be an imposing symbol of the work and a monument of the city and its citizens to be proud of.
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Here you can see the entrance. You go up to it on a huge escalator (admittedly, I've never seen such a long and high escalator haha).
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And this is me in front of the closed cafe:)
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Unfortunately, the pictures didn't turn out so sharp in the colliery, which was probably because the cell phone camera couldn't take such good photos in the low light. I hope it does not bother you too much.
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Here you could sit down in a room that had a 360-degree screen: No matter where you looked, the film was played. Various people from the Ruhr region were asked what they love and appreciate so much about the Ruhr region, their home. I thought that was great to see. Even though I now live somewhere else, in northern Germany, I often miss the flair of the Ruhr. It's simply my home and there's something about it that I can't easily describe. Do you know what I mean?

View over the north of Essen and the colliery area

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Later we walked some stairs up to the observation deck, for older people there is also an elevator. From the top you have a very nice view over the Ruhr area and the north of Essen.
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Here the colliery was replicated on a glass table, I thought it was fancy, so I captured it with a photo.
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Ice skating rink and cafes as well as the factory swimming pool

Was I able to arouse your curiosity? I think I have been there about four times, twice with the school and twice with the family. You really see a lot of school classes here, I think it's also a bit of an education if you grew up in Essen to know a little bit of the history behind this place. The area of the colliery is always free of charge possible, often it is also a meeting place for young people. The World Heritage Site includes the shafts XII, 1,2 and eight and the coking plant. You can also join a guided tour, which costs 10 euros for adults and 7 euros with discount. It is definitely worth it! In winter, you can also go ice skating here.
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The photos you see here of the skating rink and the adjacent cafe I took at another time of year. Believe me, it is incredibly fun to skate in the scenery:)
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How did you like my post? I think you could make ten posts about this mine, as much as there is to tell here. There are also so many different tours here - not only the guided tour, but also Zollverein tours, various museum tours, the Zollverein railroad and other cultural offerings. You get a good idea of ​​how hard it must have been for the workers toiling day and night in the colliery. There is even a mini outdoor pool (the name says it all, it is 2.40 m deep and 12 times 5 m wide and long). It is called the "works swimming pool". It was erected in 2001 in the name of the art project "Contemporary Art and Criticism". There is also a large souvenir shop where you can buy everything about the closed colliery: magnets, books, models, everything your heart desires.
A look behind the scenes of the colliery is definitely worth it.
Have a nice day!



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The place is just full of history, it's hard to believe that almost 600,000 workers worked there. The Ruhr area definitely has its charm, I have to agree with you. The Zeche Zollverein is a flagship of Essen, I've been there quite often.

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Yes it really is, I even have a book about it, it's just exciting. I always try to imagine what it must have been like underground back then.

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Hiya, @LivingUKTaiwan here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made it into our Honorable Mentions in Daily Travel Digest #1478.

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The colliery is beautifully transformed. One would think of an industrial structure to be cold and lifeless but the way it was re-purposed surrounded by nature lives up to its name - "cathedral of industrial culture" The glass scale model is tasteful and so are the other spaces.

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That's right, they did a great job of transforming it from a distraction in the middle of the city into something special and worth seeing. Thanks for looking! :) It was really nice at the end of the exhibition.

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These bars and restaurants in old abandonded factory buildings are just awesome.It´s nice to see these old sites being somehow included in the current urban picture and being put to new use :-)

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That's what's so fascinating for me too! Today's children swim there or people ice skate where the miners worked so hard back then.. a very exciting journey through time:)

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