Ruhr Museum

Top choice in The Ruhrgebiet

The former coal-wash plant at the Unesco-listed Zeche Zollverein provides a suitably atmospheric setting for accessible and engaging exhibits on the history, nature and culture of the Ruhr Region. Just as the coal was transported on conveyor belts, a long escalator whisks you up to the foyer from where you descend into the dark bowels of the building.

The exhibition spreads across three floors and starts in the present to provide a window into modern daily life in the Ruhr area. The next floor jumps back in time to look at the region's pre-industrial roots before examining, in often fascinating detail, how the once-agricultural region morphed into the largest coal and steel production area in Europe. With its raw stone walls, steep steel stairs, shiny aluminium ducts and industrial machinery, the space itself has all the drama and mystique of a movie set (Blade Runner comes to mind).

Tickets also include access to the Panorama Roof, which lets you appreciate the vastness of the colliery grounds.