If an industrial site is jokingly called the Eiffel Tower of the Ruhrgebiet Region, it seems to be quite an impressive landmark. In fact, the Zeche Zollverein made it from a mining area to a UNESCO World Heritage. It received that status in 2001. During a visit in early 2021, I took some daytime impressions of the area. Here is my Pictured Story, i.e. I am focusing on major size pictures rather than a lot of text and a rating.
Zeche Zollverein – Location & Transport
Zeche Zollverein is located in the Northeast of Essen, close to the city limits towards Gelsenkirchen. The former industrial site nowadays hosts a couple of museums and also companies. Two Zollverein museums I will feature on Flyctory.com soon is the Ruhr Museum and the Red Dot Design Museum. The borough in which the site is located is named Stoppenberg.
There are multiple parking lots on the Zollverein grounds – but in general, driving may be a bit of bothering. Local transport connection is quite good. Close to the Ruhr Museum, there is a tram stop Zollverein, which is featured by tram 107. The Kokerei area is connected by bus (stop: Essen Kokerei Zollverein, line 183). There is also a regional train station, Essen Zollverein Nord, from where you can either walk or take the 107 tram. The Zollverein area as such is accessible 24 hrs (apart from some parts of the Kokerei area). The museum and other attractions, of course, have opening hours.
Zeche Zollverein – History
Zeche Zollverein was a black coal mining area from 1851 to 1986. The name is related to the Deutscher Zollverein, the German Customs Union. Franz Haniel was the person who drove the construction of the site, after he found coal in 1834 in the Essen borough Schönebeck for the first time. The pit was steadily enlarged and finally took an area which is much larger than the Zollverein space you currently can see and visit. Major parts are nowadays hosting other businesses or residential areas. Shaft #12 was likely the most prominent, beautiful, but also highest capacity part of the whole mining area. In 1937, the mini produced 3.6 million (metric) tons in one year. At that time, there were roughly 7,000 employees. In the late 1960’s, the Ruhrkohle AG became the new carrier of Zollverein. Coal extraction in the region steadily decreased and Zollverein was finally closed in 1986. Two of the shafts, 2 and 12, are still active in order to pump water into the nearby river, the Emscher.
Impressions of Zeche Zollverein
I did not have the chance to have a tour inside the mining area, but the buildings are already quite impressive. I started my visit close to Schacht 12, which is likely one of the two most iconic places in the whole area. This is also where the two museums I mentioned are located.
I then strolled along to the East part of the mining area. This is also where the Folkwang University of Arts is located. It also hosts the theatre PACT and a museum.
After strolling through that area, I headed to the iconic Kokerei (cokery). Regarding industrial structures, this is likely the most impressive part of a walk through the Zollverein grounds (which is also a beauty in the night, when parts of the industrial sights are illuminated). You see a lot of industrial equipment from outside, even though parts of the area are closed. This area features an art gallery, an event space, a cafe, but also a swimming pool.
Here are some impressions of were I started. The whole walk around the area took me about one hour, which suited well between the (time slotted) visits in the Ruhr Museum and Red Dot Design Museum. The Zeche Zollverein rather recommends a walk along the rear of the cokery plant, for which I would add at least 30 minutes.