Places of Lively Cultural Mediation – The Coal Mine

Experiencing industrial history on the Zollverein Monument Path

On 23rd December 1986, the Zollverein Coal Mine was closed down. This marked the closure of the last of 291 collieries in Essen, once the largest mining city in Europe. This unique ensemble of mining architecture, however, was placed under a preservation order even before its closure and was thus preserved.

Panoramic rooftop of the Coal WasheryUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Guided tour

The Zollverein Monument Path encompasses the historical core areas of the coal mine and coking plant. Participating in different activities on offer, visitors can experience the history and present of the most beautiful coal mine in the world and what was once the largest coking plant in Europe. 
Every year, more than 150,000 people visit the impressive facilities on a guided tour.


View of the screening plant on the Zollverein Monument Path.UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

The Coal Mine | The Path of Coal 

Gigantic machines, seemingly endless conveyor belts and massive bunkers represent an eventful industrial history. Where once up to 23.000 tonnes of rough coal a day were mined and processed, visitors now follow the modern path of coal and discover the miners’ workplaces.

Tool bench in the former locksmith‘s shop at Zollverein Shaft XIIUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Place of Work 

Even a brief glance into the former locksmith’s shop reveals different dimensions. Admittedly, these are tools that are not missing in any household, but the exhibits on this workbench are probably a lot bigger, ...

Tool bench in the former locksmith‘s shop at Zollverein Shaft XIIUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

...as this close-up reveals.

During the tour of Zollverein, the noise of a single mine car is simulated.UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

The Tipper Hall

Quiet today, extremely noisy in the past: the tipper hall at Zollverein Shaft XII. Until the hall was closed down in 1967, up to 15,000 mine cars loaded with rough coal passed through it every day, were tipped upside down and rolled back to the shaft empty. The noise was literally deafening.

Mine car simulation for children at the Zollverein Interactive CollieryUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Mine Car Game at the Interactive Colliery

The principle of tipping mine cars in the tipper hall is demonstrated here: the children tip out the mine car, letting the coal falls onto a conveyor belt underneath. The conveyor transported the coal-and-stone mixture on to the screening plant.   

Screening plant at Zollverein Shaft XIIUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

The Screening Plant 

View of the screening plant, which was rebuilt in the 1970s. The rough coal crushed and screened here was then conveyed on belts to the coal washery.

Mining bunker at Zollverein Shaft XIIUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Mining Bunker 

Rock sorted out from the raw coal was collected in the mining bunker and taken from there by train or lorry to the spoil tips in the surrounding area or sold on as building material.

View of the specialisation module „Underground mining“ on the Zollverein Monument PathUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Underground Mining

In addition to the authentically preserved above-ground facilities, there are rooms below the mining bunker where visitors can learn about the world underground.

Former miners and coke oven workers guide guests around the preserved coal mine and coking plant.UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

Contemporary Witnesses 

 Shortly after the closure of Zollverein Shaft XII, former Zollverein miners guided visitors through the buildings that had long been closed to the public. They and other guides are a pillar of the historical education programmes on offer as part of the Zollverein Monument Path.

View of the screening drum in the former coal washeryUNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

The Coal Washery – Screening Drum

Between 2003 and 2010, the historical above-ground facilities at Zollverein Shaft XII underwent extensive refurbishment. The authentically preserved machinery and equipment allow a glimpse into their interior – without interfering with the structure. 

View of the setting basins, which were decommissioned in 1986UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

The Coal Washery – Setting Basins

Rough coal pieces that were smaller than 150 millimetres finally ended up in the setting basins in the coal washery. With the help of water, coal and secondary rock were separated from each other here. This process gave the largest building at Zollverein its name: the coal washery.

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