Zeche Zollverein

Top choice in The Ruhrgebiet

A key site along the Ruhr area's Industrial Heritage Trail, the former Zollverein coal mine was a marvel of efficiency while in operation from 1932 until 1986. In 2001, Unesco declared the Bauhaus-style complex a World Heritage Site. Since closing, the sprawling site has since been rebooted as a cultural centre with museums, performance spaces, artists' studios, cafes and some unusual playgrounds. A major focus is the excellent Ruhr Museum in the old coal-wash plant.

Be sure to explore the rambling grounds which encompass dozens of industrial buildings spread out over a wooded expanse with some park-like areas. Attractions include sculptures and installations, workshops and galleries, a seasonal swimming pool and ice-skating rink (€7), and a solar-powered Ferris wheel. Cafes and restaurants are scattered about. If you don't want to walk, rent a bicycle near the visitors centre.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Ruhrgebiet attractions

1. Red Dot Design Museum

0.09 MILES

Part of the Zeche Zollverein colliery-turned-cultural centre, this museum showcases the best in contemporary design in the former stoker's hall,…

2. Ruhr Museum

0.09 MILES

The former coal-wash plant at the Unesco-listed Zeche Zollverein provides a suitably atmospheric setting for accessible and engaging exhibits on the…

3. Alte Synagoge


The grand Alte Synagoge served as the hub of Essen's Jewish community between 1913 and 1938 and miraculously survived WWII largely intact. A memorial site…

4. Dom Essen

2.48 MILES

Essen’s medieval Dom is an island of quiet engulfed by the commercialism of pedestrianised Kettwiger Strasse, the main shopping strip. It has a priceless…

5. Museum Folkwang

3.46 MILES

A grand dame among Germany’s art repositories, the Museum Folkwang has sparkling digs designed by top British architect David Chipperfield. Galleries…

6. Tetraeder


The Tetraeder is one of the most striking stops on the Ruhr Valley's Industrial Heritage Trail. The airy 60m-high installation by Wolfgang Christ is a…

7. Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum

5.13 MILES

Fans of historical trains have plenty to admire at this vast museum, which displays around 120 steam locomotives (many puffing away), coaches and wagons…

8. Josef Albers Museum

6.26 MILES

Bottrop-born Josef Albers (1888–1976) was a painter of abstract works that combine bold use of colour with geometric forms. A member of the Bauhaus school…