Industrial culture at the Zollverein Coal Mine industrial complex in Essen

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Essen is a city in the middle of the "Ruhrgebiet", Germany's traditional centre of mining and heavy industry – but today there is no mining left and not much industry. The main reason for our trip to Essen was an art exhibition at the Museum Folkwang, but as we have never visited the Zollverein Coal Mine it was a welcoming opportunity for the afternoon programme. The Zollverein Coal Mine used to be one of the largest mines in the area, but none of it has been in use since 1993 when the coking plant was closed for good. The site is being rededicated as a cultural and leisure space, thereby conserving some of the architecture and its historical importance. Mining at the Zollverein Coal Mine began in the mid-19th century and was in operation until 1986. The coal extracted in Essen was especially suitable for coking, and from the beginning the mining of coal went hand in hand with the production of coke. Therefore a coking plant was also built on the premises. The building is lit up in red after nightfall, and contains exhibition spaces, a book shop and a café instead of coal-black machinery. The permanent exhibition is also located in the coking plant. ...