Coal, mines and beauty

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.

Coal Mine Complex/ Essen

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?

4 Comments

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4 Responses to Coal, mines and beauty

  1. Made me think of the decaying mills in Bombay, those that haven’t been converted to malls yet!

  2. snowdonia, wales. sygon copper mine, and the slate factory there. and the reservoir…even thinking of them makes me want to visit snowdonia again. closest place to stay for these places is the lovely caernarvon. also CAT (centre for alternative technology) at (north, i think) wales.

  3. Ever since my kidhood I have heard of Binny Mills in Bangalore. Its closed now and I have never been inside. I dont think its a heritage site and therefore you might find stuff rotting.
    Maybe another not so useful information to add to your repertoire :)
    I would call even architectural temples like Hampi, industrial.

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