Germany // North Rhine-Westphalia //

On the trail of the Ruhr’s Industrial Heritage


The Ruhr has experienced the same structural difficulties faced by similar “rust belt” regions elsewhere, but it has risen to the challenge of re-using its redundant industrial sites in a very different way. Instead of bulldozing them, many have been preserved in acknowledgement of the historical significance and tourist potential of these so-called “cathedrals of industry”. Today, a 400km road route and a well-signposted 700km cycle trail form the Route der Industriekultur (Industrial Heritage Trail; link former steelworks, coal mines and slagheaps to offer a fascinating insight into the technology of heavy industry, with a healthy injection of contemporary culture. Some of the most significant attractions are dealt with in the individual city sections here, but others are listed here. You can rent bikes for €1 per hour from one of the 300 cycle stations scattered across the region – you just have to register free first (

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