Day 6: Duisburg, Germany
The Ruhrpott, or also known as Pott, had always been Germany´s industrial area number one. While its iron and coal industry were major bombing targets during World War II, it served straight after again as the country´s primary industrial and electricity hub. Most of the coal-fired power stations had been closed due to the nation´s environmental politics decades ago, but a few of them are still in service these days, at least for a few more years.
To me, it would be weird to call this area to be naturally beautiful. Of course, it is nothing like in the early stages of industrialization where you could hardly see the sky due to the heavy smoke and your white laundry turned grey when drying outside on the line, yet the land and cityscape still has this urban decay ambiance that you would associate it with.
We had left Cologne last night around 11pm and were still cruising when my alarm clock woke me up at seven in the morning the next day. It was foggy and misty out there when I first glimpsed out of the windows and there were hints of rain left on the surfaces. Not a day that you particularly look forward to get up to. But the ship would not stay in port until early afternoon before continuing its journeys to our final destination of this trip, Amsterdam. So it was more or less an obligation to get up if I wanted to see at least a little bit of the surroundings.
Most of the passengers were going onto an excursion to one of the Ruhrpott´s largest former coal mine industrial complex, the Zeche Zollverein in Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia.
The Zeche began as a small coal mine back in 1847 and evolved over the centuries into one of the largest of its kind in Europe. It is referred to as one of the most beautiful coal mines in the world and has reached UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2001, described as a major anchor point in the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
But after considering that this huge area should be covered in only two hours (plus the altogether two hours return trip on the bus to Essen and back), I decided to look for an alternative in close proximity to the anchor place of Excellence Princess in the Port of Duisburg (which is actually the largest inner port in whole Europe!).
Since we were docked in the capital of the Ruhrpott, there should be something similar a little bit closer. And there was.
About 25 minutes by bus and tram lied the so-called Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord. Having been turned from an abandoned coal and steel production plant into a public park, this area was designed in 1991 with the intention to pay tribute to the history of the plant and its industrial past while at the same time becoming a public recreational area and social meeting point. The goal was to keep the original architecture and to create a place for understanding the industrial past, rather than rejecting it.
While there also is a huge parkland with green meadows and lots of trees where most locals go for a run or take their dogs out, my attention was focussing on the industrial remains in the three hours that I had. And it was fun!
Surprisingly, there was no admission fee at all. The entire premise was accessible for everyone and is opened 24 hours. I loved wandering through the deserted alleys and climbing up and down the stairs, trying to imagine what it was like to work in a factory like this. Flowers and greens grew everywhere and the paint was cracked, giving this place a mysterious yet somehow beautiful and fascinating atmosphere.
If you have a thing for urban decay, I am sure you will enjoy Landschaftspark Nord as much as I did.
The most thrilling moment to me was taking the stairs all the way up the melting furnace. The top observation platform is almost 60 meters above ground and you really enjoy amazing views onto the entire area and the different buildings. But even though I am normally not afraid of heights at all, up there I did not manage to stay that long. I hope, you can do better than me :).
This is also a great place if you are looking to do something fun or adventurous with friends or family out of the box, rather than going shopping or sightseeing in Duisburg itself (which I doubt is more spectacular). I could have stayed much longer since I found thousands and thousands of cool snapshot perspectives, but time was against me and so I returned after a few hours back to ship where we set sail for Amsterdam just a little bit afterwards at 2pm.
Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord
For getting round and about in Duisburg, I recommend to download the official App for the public transport system DVG. A day ticket in the city limits costs 6,80€ for one person.