A couple of weeks back I found myself in Germany. More specifically – in Cologne. Now Germany has never been on my must-go-to map, except perhaps Berlin. There’s very little I actually know about that country. Except perhaps random pieces of useless information about politics and history. I guess in my mind, I never equated Germany with fun. (Especially if you’re just not that into the rave scene! :)
So yes, Cologne. It was gorgeous. Not as grand as some of the other European cities. But compact. And bustling. And I never quite realised how much the Germans love their bread. Little bakeries everywhere, with a variety of breads. To my surprise, Germany never left me hungry. It was easier to find and communicate my vegetarian needs in Germany than I thought it would be.
Perhaps it’s the legacy of engineers in the family, or quite simply a fondness for ruins of any kind, but I do love industrial sites and railway lines. And the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex was breathtaking.
The restoration is fantastic, and it feels like a living, breathing space. Wikipedia tells me –
The first coal mine on the premises was founded in 1847, mining activities took place from 1851 until December 23, 1986. … Shaft 12, built in Bauhaus style, was opened in 1932 and is considered an architectural and technical masterpiece, earning it a reputation as the “most beautiful coal mine in the world”
This must have been a harsh place. Full of dust, with every surface leaving a black smudge. To call it beautiful somehow seems to trivialise the work of thousands. And yet, there’s no other way to describe it. I think at one point I’d like to go to more industrial heritage sites. Recommendations?