Hambach Surface Mining – The Largest Man-Made Hole in the World

I felt that the current discussions about the closing down of the village of Lützerrath in Germany are a good timing to show you some impressions of Hambach Surface Mining. Even though Lützerath is located in another brown coal area, Garzweiler, Hambach offers more impressive views of how massive man is changing the planet in the pursue for energy. Like the whole area West of Cologne, there are significant coal reserves. In fact, Tagebau Hambach, which is the German name, is the largest man-made hole of the world. Actually, it is pretty impressive. Here are my Pictured Story – style major size pictures.


Hambach Surface Mining – Location

As  said, the whole area West of Cologne is rich of coal. In regards of Hambach, the most famous area of the surface mining area was very likely the Hambacher Forst. The biotop-alike forest hosted several unique species. It was saved in 2020. Nonetheless, several villages are closed down evacuated and then excavated away by the massive machines of energy company RWE. One of these “lost” villages is Kerpen-Manheim, to where I take you in the second part of the posting. It is marked in the map below as well as Forum Terra Nova, which is offering a lot of information about the Hambach Surface Mining area, including some viewpoints – and a snack bar in summer.

In fact, the (by far) easiest way to reach Hambach by car are the surrounding motorways, A4 and A61. A4 is nowadays diverted from its original route by a couple of kilometers. The rationale for that was the surface mining operation as well – some parts are no longer existing nowadays.


Terra Nova – Hambach Surface Mining Viewpoints

The Forum Terra Nova is a recreational area already. There are also some open air concerts in summer and a soccer golf course next to it. You can drive Northbound along the mining area. RWE built a couple of viewpoints along the route. The viewpoints typically feature parking in rather near priximity. A very interesting feature of that area (due to the mining) is that there are pumps everywhere to lower the ground-water level. All the pictures have been taken in late summer 2022, by the way.


Views from Terra Nova Viewpoints

Here are some views from the four view points. Overall, the area is some 85 square kilometers large. There is an annual removal of some 250 million (metric) tons of soil, which leads to a production of 40 million tons of coal. The mining is expected to be closed down in 2030. A new landscape, including a major lake, will be artificially created after that point.


Kerpen-Manheim – The Home Race Track of German Formula One Stars

The second part of my trip took me to Kerpen-Manheim. This part of Kerpen is most famous for the the Erftlandring, a karting race track. Originally, the area of the track was supposed to be used for surface mining as well. However, since the Hambacher Forst (Hambach Forest) has been saved from that faith, the track will also stay operational. The Erftlandring has been home to a whole generaion of German Formula One drivers, namely Michael and Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, Sebastian Vettel and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. I just had a quick view of the track before heading into the in-fact borough Manhaim.

At the time of visiting in late summer 2022, the streets of Manheim were private Werkstraßen (something like company roads), which you could use at own risk. The state of the roads is obviously average, but some people were still living there during my drive through the borough. Most of the houses, including the impressive church, were ruins or at least locked down already, though. If you tried to do the same visit today, the roads might already be closed – Kerpen-Manheim is expected to be removed by the coal production in 2024.

A key reason why I chose to visit Manheim, however, was to have a look at the historic motorway A4, which is nowadays running a few kilometers South of Manheim. The straight part with the bridge has been still existing during my visit and offered the possibility to step on this kind of ghost road. Driving there would already have been impossible with my car. Right next to the historic motorway, fences and chain-wires prevented you from stepping further towards the huge rotary excavators. Pictured Stories

The key contents of Pictured Stories are the picture, not the text:


Travel Postings about the Cologne Region

Here are all travel postings of the region around Cologne:

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