The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex

As part of our tour of Germany's UNESCO World Heritage sites, we check out the Zollverein mine in Essen, an industrial monument considered a leading example of the development of heavy industry in Europe.

The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex
Photo: DPA

The Zollverein mine in Essen was once the largest and most modern colliery in the world.

The two Bauhaus-inspired architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer were responsible for its unique design, a harmonious blend of geometric shapes and symmetrical features arranged around two axes. Shaft 12 and the coking plant, the outstanding features of the mine, set new standards in industrial design.

The mine was shut down in 1986 after 55 years in operation. The coking plant and shaft 12 now form part of a unique industrial monument, and are home to a vibrant arts centre. Once called “the most beautiful mine in the world,” it is a testament to the modern architectural movement of the 1920s and 1930s and the rise of heavy industry.

The museum path runs through an open-cast mine left in its original condition, taking in the buildings of the old separation plant and coal washery and passing gargantuan machines and conveying belts. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001.

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