The Zollverein colliery is the most famous sight in the Ruhr area. The former industrial plant in the north of Essen has been a UNESCO World HeritageSite since 2001. Hard coal was mined here between 1851 and 1986 and further processed into coke and raw gas in the coking plant. The Zeche Zollverein is also famous for its architecture. The most beautiful part of the colliery is shaft 12 with a double trestle, which was built in 1928 by the architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer (photo).
The disused Zollverein colliery is now used as a cultural and museum district. The old central coking plant with 304 ovens is very impressive, coal was refined here into coke until 1993. You can spend the whole day on the huge facility. The Ruhr Museum is now located in the former coal washing plant. The Red Dot Design Museum is located in the former boiler house, which was remodeled by Sir Norman Foster for the museum and is now one of the best design museums in the world. There are also several restaurants and shops on the premises. On the northeastern edge of the site is the Folkwang University of the Arts, a building by the Japanese architect of SANAA.
How to get there
There is a visitor car park on Gelsenkirchener Strasse. Tram line 107 goes from Essen Central Station to the Zollverein stop. The Zollverein Nord S-Bahn station is around 800 m north of the former mine. For more information on local public transport www.ruhrbahn.de
Villa Hügel was built in 1873 by Alfred Krupp in the south of Essen. The spacious villa is in a park above Lake Baldeney. It served the steel baron as a home and for representative purposes. The building has 269 rooms on an area of 8,100 square meters. The castle-like splendor shows the wealth that the Krupp family had earned since the company was founded in 1811. Alfred Krupp turned his father Friedrich Krupp's cast steel factory into a profitable corporation.
Construction of Villa Hügel began in 1870. Since Alfred Krupp had clear ideas about what the building should look like, he did not need a design architect but only a construction manager. The architect Paul Emmanuel Spieker supported Alfred Krupp as a consultant and drew the plans together with Johan Eduard Jacobusthal.
The result is a large building with magnificent interiors. From the outside, Villa Hügel doesn't look like one building. It consists of three components that somehow don't want to fit together. The representative rooms are on the ground floor and the Krupp family's living rooms are on the first floor. The employees lived on the second floor and the kitchen was in the basement.
In 1945 the Villa Hügel was confiscated by the victorious power USA. The Krupp family's house was returned to the owners in 1953. Today some of the rooms serve as exhibition space. The Villa Hügel is a monument of German industrial history and is open to the public. See link for opening times and admission prices.
How to get there
There are visitor parking spaces on Haraldstraße. The Essen-Hügel S-Bahn station is around 250 m south of the villa.
The Schurenbachhalde was created around 1920 by the overburden of the Neuessen colliery. It reached its current size through the overburden of the Zollverein colliery. From the mid-1980s, the stockpile was planted with trees and transformed into a local recreation area. The top was not planted and looks like a lunar landscape with a great view over the industrial region of the Ruhr area. The steel sculpture "Bramme" by Richard Serra stands at the highest point since 1998.
The tower of the "Nordstern" coal mine was erected in 1952. The tower was jacked up in 2010 and expanded to include a lift with stairs. Since then there is a viewing platform on the 83 m high roof top. The sculpture "Hercules of Gelsenkirchen" by the artist Markus Lüpertz stands on top of the tower. The 10 m high Hercules is a symbol for the huge task of leading the rusty Ruhr region into a new era.
The Center for Art and Creativity in the old Union Brewery was created for the "European Capital of Culture" Ruhr 2010. The building houses the Ostwall Museum, exhibition space for contemporary art, gastronomy and a view over Dortmund and the eastern Ruhr area from the top floor. The building was erected in 1927 and used to serve as the fermenting and storage tower of the Dortmunder Union Brewery.
The "Bermuda3Eck" is a pub quarter at the end of the pedestrian zone in the city of Bochum. In recent years the "Bermuda3Eck" has developed into one of the most famous places for night owls in the Ruhr area. Numerous restaurants, bars, clubs and cinemas attract party animals.
The 50 m high tetrahedron is a project of the "IBA Emscher Park" from 1995. The steel framework of the architect Wolfgang Christ was designed together with the statisticians of Bollinger + Grohmann from Frankfurt. The mine dump "Beckstraße", on which the tetrahedron stands, rises about 90 m above the surroundings. With a clear view, you can even see the TV tower of Düsseldorf from up here.
The "CentrO" shopping mall was built in 1996 on an industrial waste land in Oberhausen. It is the biggest shopping center in Germany. In addition to the "Mall", there is an aquarium, a conference hall, a cinema center, a musical theater, an adventure pool and other attractions.
The large sculpture by Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth was opened in 2011. The loops of the 20 m high sculpture are reminiscent of a roller coaster, but are accessible stairs. The Tiger and Turtle Magic Mountain landscape park is located on the Heinrich-Hildebrand-Höhe in Duisburg-Angerhausen. The former heap of the zinc smelter in Duisburg was named after the local researcher Heinrich Hildebrand and was renatured in 2005. With its material, the galvanized sculpture creates a reference to the industrial history of the site. The 35 m high dump together with the 20 m high sculpture forms a landmark that can be seen from afar. From the walk-in sculpture Tiger & Turtle you have a beautiful view over the industrial landscape in southern Duisburg over the Rhine until Düsseldorf. Tip: Tiger & Turtle is illuminated at night and offers a very nice photo opportunity.
How do you get there without a car?
Tram 903 from Duisburg central station to Tiger & Turtle.
Welcome to the Ruhr area
The many cities along the Ruhr are collectively referred to as the "Ruhr area". The boundaries of this region are not precisely defined because the Ruhr area is not an administrative unit. Therefore the population of the region fluctuates between 5 to 10 million people. This makes the Ruhr area the largest agglomeration between Moscow and Paris.
The Ruhr area was and is an industrial region even if mines and steelworks were closed, production in the Ruhr area is still going on. The attractions of the region are almost all related to industry and its transformation into leisure and cultural sites.
Discover the Ruhr area
Arts and Culture
In addition to the numerous sights from the industrial history of the Ruhr area, the region has also accumulated many art treasures. The collections of the Folkwang Museum in Essen and the "Küppersmühle" in Duisburg are noteworthy. Interesting exhibitions on contemporary art can be found in the "Gasometer" in Oberhausen and in the Museum Ostwall in Dortmund. Museums on industrial history can be found in Essen with the "Ruhr Museum", in Bochum with the mining museum or in Mühlheim with the "Aquarius".
Nature and leisure
Many industrial plants have been converted into parks and green spaces, the most famous are the Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord, the "Emscher Park" and the Nordstern Park. Classic parks can be found in the Bochum City Park and in the Nordkirchen Castle Park. There are Chinese gardens in the Duisburg Zoo and in the University of Bochum. At the edge of the Ruhr area there are also real natural landscapes with the "Westruper Heide".
The Ruhr area quickly needed a lot of apartments for the workers who moved to the industrial region from all parts of Germany and later also from abroad. The most beautiful workers' settlement was built by Krupp. The Margarethenhöhe is one of the first "garden cities" in Germany. Further highlights are the corporate headquarters of Thyssen-Krupp and RWE.