my public transportation ticket doesn’t start until June 1
Just today I purchased a Ruhr Bahn Ticket 2000 to be able to travel the entire VRR area 24/7 (or well, so long as the trains are running, but I’m not limited to weekends or after 5 pm is what I mean) for 30 days. I can take a bike with me and on weekends or at night I can take one friend, it was only 203 Euros (haha). But really though, its a pretty good deal since I can now go wherever I want in the area pretty spontaneously and it basically covers the whole Ruhr Region. The woman at the counter in the Essen mainstation was pretty surprised I was trying to buy one though, and I had to double check I was purchasing the thing I wanted because my German is not very good (practically non-existent) and she thought maybe a smaller ticket centered around Essen would be fine. But I’d learned on a previous trip to Germany always to ask for English clarification (if possible) before purchasing said item. One time I had gone to an Aldi to get a SIM card and accidentally picked up some sort of paper Vodaphone recharge slip instead, thinking I would present it to the cashier in exchange for the the SIM at the register. Once I received my receipt I finally realized that maybe what I had purchased was not what I thought it was. Then when I asked the cashier in English ‘but what about the SIM’ (most people in the area do speak English), he informed me that the SIMs where kept in a desk under the cash registers and that what I had purchased was non-refundable and unrelated to what I had wanted to buy.
But anyways, in the meantime before I got the ticket, I visited spots primarily around Essen.
As shown in this map, Essen is more or less split by Route 40. To the north is the formerly industrial River Emscher, once used as an open sewage canal, while to the south is the Ruhr River, which is used for drinking water. To the farthest north were the mines, including the Zeche Zollverein, while most of the factories (including Krupp steel factories) were in the central. Much of the commercial activity took place in the center too, and homes around the central market were considered very valuable. Today a large shopping mall exists in the area, and Essen sometimes presents the slogan ‘Die Einkaufsstadt’ or the Shopping City. South of Route 40, the city is much more green and property values are higher. Near the lake Baldeneysee lies the Villa Hugel, which was the Krupp mansion, as well as the relatively untouched historic town of Kettwig (wasnt home to any important industries and still retains the Medieval look) and the garden suburb Margaretenhohe which is quite beautiful.
Starting in the South
Alfred Krupp planted a small forest surrounding the Villa Hugel, practically importing a dense forest to Essen. Krupp wanted to experience his desired forest before his death, choosing to pay for mature trees which had already reached full effect by 1883. Since 1961 though, the park has been maintained in an English Landscape Garden style, which had been popular during the industrial era.
The English Landscape Garden style is based off of the rejection of formalist and baroque landscapes that showcased powerful symmetry and the symbolism of man’s control over nature. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, English gardeners began to develop a ‘freer’ style that appeared simple and rustic but was carefully maintained.
Romantic landscape paintings such as those by Claude Lorrain and Nicholas Poussin often served as inspiration for landscape designs, and sought to embody an Arcadia or image of harmony with nature before modern civilization – very fitting for a time of intense industrialization. The garden-park is the perfect way to take oneself out of such an urban environment.
Additionally, the Villa Hugel showcases a smaller garden featuring primarily ornamental plants, including a selection of rare orchids, as was typical of the taste in the late 1800s. However, I did not get a picture of these.
Next, I saw the Brandenbusch settlement and the Margaretenhohe settlement, but I’ll come back to those later (as well as the rest of Altenhof I).
Then into the City Central
The Colosseum Theater was a factory used to produce machinery up until 1988. It was placed under historical preservation the next year, and is now used for performances/shows. I haven’t been in, but it looks pretty nice.
Some old pictures of the city central prior to and then during industrialization. The village was transformed by industry in the area (the second picture is the shopping mall), and the statue erected of Alfred Krupp (now in front of the church) demonstrates how influential he was on Essen, turning the town in which into a city and employing a great deal of the residents.
Before industrialization, religious organizations held much of the power in small towns such as Essen. These two pictures are of the Essen Abbey, now a cathedral. The cloister garden is also a cemetary, with a precious water feature that softly pools in the center of the garden.
In the North
Opened in 1932, Shaft XII is one of the most iconic symbols of the Industrial Heritage Route, as well as one of the anchor points on the larger European Industrial Heritage Route. The coal mine itself opened in 1847, and closed in 1986.
Coke is a hard and highly productive fuel, made from heating up coal or oil without any air to extremely high temperatures. The product could then be used for iron or steel making. The coke ovens are shown here.
…was filming two ladies the entire time but the video gives an idea of how long and high up the stairs are, like going up the mine shaft. On festival nights there are also cart rides up one of the other shafts.
The areas around the train tracks have been planted; these sections are kept as a birch garden, but around the whole complex spontaneous vegetation crops up within the mining facility and around the bike trails that lead to other parts of the Industrial Route. In a display of fourth nature or new wilderness reclaiming industrial lands, the vegetation represents natures power of resilience.
Along one of the bike trails that wrap around the complex is an art sculpture, where a concrete shaft is digging into the ground next to an open oven. The fuel lies in the foreground.
Throughout the park, corten steel signs are used as wayfinding mechanisms.
Additionally along the bike trail, directions are embedded into the paving.
Next, I made my way to the Shurenbachhalde spoil tip in Essen (Altenessen), farther north of the Zeche Zollverein and home to much of the coal mine’s waste.