Just got home from my month-long trip to Germany this week, now into the long process of catching up on my backlog of editing and posting photos! I'm a pretty amateur blogger... living up to the 'blave' name well! These pictures are from inside the buildings of the Zeche Zollverein mine complex - from a guided tour of the main mine shaft (Shaft XII) building and from the Ruhr Museum which was built into the lowest levels of the large Coal Washing Plant.
I'm not usually keen on guided tours - since I prefer to take my time and explore around by myself and find interesting things to photograph - but as usual the most interesting places are only accessible by tour, at extra charge of course. The mine shaft itself is not accessible for the tour - but I have it on good authority that they do special trips down there for VIPs and important industrial groups, which would have been really interesting! But the mine shaft buildings themselves were quite cool, and of course you get the full tourist information spiel on coal mining, conditions for the mine workers, history of the mines etc etc etc.
The best trivia I got from the tour was the 'cost of water' for the mines in the Ruhr region - even though the mines shut down 20 years ago, they still have to turn the pumps on for an hour every day to keep pumping out the infiltrating water. If they stop doing this, after a year the weight of water will compress the ground (riddled with tunnels) and lower the Ruhr enough to redirect the Rhine and flood the whole (densely populated) region. So they must keep paying to pump of thousands of tonnes of water.. forever!
I also visited the new Ruhr Museum, which was built into the basement floors of the Coal Washing Plant building (shown from the outside last post). It's not huge, but made for one of the most impressive museum settings I've visited. There were all sorts of informative displays of the history and modern development of the Ruhr region, but as usual I found the ancient history much more interesting. This part was also in the lowest floor, with lots of dramatically lit displays inside concrete coal bunkers. The bronze age armour and weapon displays were particularly impressive in this setting! But my favourite part was probably the giant orange-lit staircase descending to the lower floors.