Another beautiful spring Saturday. We drove an hour northeast of here to the town of Essen, this year’s European Capital of Culture in the Ruhr Basin. This area of Germany has long been an important industrial center of Europe, thanks to large coal deposits. Coal and steel industry are still alive here today but in decline – cheaper coal from China is one of the main reasons.

The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex (official website / wikipedia) has closed down in the 80s and has since become a World Cultural Heritage site – it is now home to a cultural center with several important museums, and it hosts many kinds of cultural events.







 
The Ruhr museum has many interesting exhibits about the history of this area – among them, of course, coal and other fascinating minerals and fossils. This collection alone is worth visiting this museum for anyone who loves fossils and natural history.





 

What must it feel like for the former coal workers to visit the place where they spent their working lives, now turned into a museum and place for entertainment and culture?






 
The part of the area that I liked most for some reason used to house a huge coking plant. It has the charme of ruins now that have turned into an alternative culture place. Oh how much I’d love to play some guitar livelooping or computer music there!









 
I’m sure I’ll come back to this place and spend some time there.

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