The Zollverein colliery in the north of Essen is the best-known industrial monument in the Ruhr region. It was once one of the largest coal mines in the world. Today, the colliery is a symbol of the former great era of heavy industry in Essen. Today, important parts of the mine are listed as historic monuments and are even a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Zollverein mine was in operation for 135 years and was shut down in 1986. The decision was quickly made to preserve the Zollverein in Essen. Today you can visit the mine as an industrial monument. It is one of the biggest sights in the entire Ruhr region. Today, the former colliery in Essen houses several museums and exhibitions, among other things.
The two best-known museums are the Museum Ruhr, the large museum about the Ruhr region, and the Red Dot Design Museum Essen. But the most interesting thing for most visitors are the huge old industrial sites. Many buildings on the large site, such as the gigantic winding tower and one of the former largest coking plants in the world, have been largely preserved.
Places of interest at Zollverein Essen
Coal washing: This is the most famous building on the Zollverein site in Essen. It was and is also the largest building. Today the building is the visitor centre at the Zollverein colliery. Large parts of the building house one of the most important museums in the Ruhr area, the Museum Ruhr. For some years now there has also been a viewing platform on the roof of the 40-metre-high building. In good weather you have a great view over the entire Zollverein site with coking plant and so on.
The huge building with the well-known Doppelbock (see picture above) has become a symbol of the industrial history of the Ruhr area and is one of the most photographed objects in Essen and the surrounding area.
Even the entrance to the building is great. You go up on a long, modern escalator. It is said to be the longest escalator in Germany (length almost 70 metres, height 24 metres, travel time around 1.5 minutes). The visitor centre and the entrance to the Ruhr Museum are more than 20 metres above the ground.
Coking plant: Zollverein Essen covers a total area of around 1 km², or 100 hectares. The coking plant is at the back, so far away that there is even a small bus service for tourists within the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site. But you can also walk from the Zollverein visitor centre to the coking plant in just under 15 minutes.
In many areas of the coking plant you can walk around as you like, other parts and the buildings are not accessible for safety reasons. However, you can see much more during guided tours.
Other buildings: Most visitors are amazed at how big the Zollverein Essen site is. There are dozens of buildings, and you can go inside many of them. Some of them have exhibitions and museums. One of them is the well-known Red Dot Design Museum. We also found the exhibition in summer 2017 “Green in the City of Essen” very interesting.
Overall, you should plan a lot of time if you want to see everything. If you want to see all the big sights and the two big museums (Museum Ruhr and Red Dot Design Museum), you will probably need the whole day.
Entrance fees Zeche Zollverein Essen 2022
Admission is charged only for the two museums, Museum Ruhr and Red Dot Design Museum. All outdoor facilities, other exhibitions and buildings do not charge admission. You can also take the escalator up to the interesting visitor centre free of charge.
The Ruhr Museum costs 8 euros admission, the Red Dot Museum 6 euros. There are reductions on admission for various groups such as children, students, families, disabled people, etc. at both sights. (as of 2022).
As far as we know, you can only visit the viewing platform in the Zollverein on the coal washing plant if you have paid admission to the Ruhr Museum. You can also watch a film in a 360-degree cinema with an admission ticket to the Ruhr Museum.
At the visitor centre you can book the various guided tours and round trips, also through the coking plant. Unfortunately, on busy days like summer and weekends, these are often fully booked. The guided tours of the Zollverein are very interesting and cost only a few euros.
You can book the guided tours of Zollverein at the visitor centre at the top near the escalator in the former coal washing plant. Tickets for the Museum Ruhr, including the viewing platform, are also available here. Sometimes there are special exhibitions in the Museum Ruhr, which cost extra admission.
Opening hours Zollverein Essen 2022
The Red Dot Museum has the shortest opening hours. Every day except Mondays from 11 am to 6 pm. If there are public holidays in NRW or if a Monday is a public holiday, the museum is also open on Mondays.
The Museum Ruhr has long opening hours: It is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. It is only closed on 24 December, 25 December and 31 December (from summer 2017).
As far as we know, the huge outdoor area is not fenced in and is freely accessible at all times.
Directions to Zollverein Essen
Zollverein Essen is located in the north of the city of Essen in the direction of Gelsenkirchen on Gelsenkirchener Straße. The colliery is easy to reach by tram. Take tram 107, which connects Essen’s main railway station with Gelsenkirchen’s main railway station. The stop is simply called “Zollverein”. Another stop called “Zollverein Nord” is less convenient for visiting the main sights and the visitor centre at Zollverein Essen.
You can also come by car, parking spaces are scarce at most during large events. There are even said to be visitors who use the car between the various sights on the Zollverein site because the site is so large.
The name Zollverein: The colliery was founded in 1831. The somewhat comical name goes back to the customs union of the small German states at that time.
Good weather is an advantage when visiting Zollverein Essen. Above all, the photos are more beautiful, especially from the viewing platform.
The nature on the site is also very interesting. Nothing has been changed in many places for 30 years. Large bushes such as blackberries and other plants now grow everywhere. We also saw a small lake (biotope) and many different species of birds at Zollverein during our visit in summer 2017.
If you are interested in the history of mining in the area, you should definitely visit the mining museum in Bochum. Read more about it on this page.
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