Zollverein Mine and Coking Plant World Heritage Site

Zollverein is the meeting place for past, present and future. The past are the Ruhr Museum with its presentation of the exciting natural and cultural history of the Ruhr Region and the "Monument Path" which brings industrial history back to life. Zollverein was once the largest coal mine in Europe, the central point in the lives of 5,000 colliers and their families. Conveyor belts, shaking screens, the tipper house and the wagon run bear witness to the mutual interplay of men and machines. The present lives from the new uses to which the surface buildings have been put; buildings which have given Zollverein the reputation of being the “most beautiful coal mine in the world”. Its simple Bauhaus facade is equally suitable for housing concerts, dance and theatre shows, not to speak of congresses, conferences and trade fairs. The future has already begun. Zollverein is being developed into an innovative meeting point for design and the arts. This is already reflected in the exhibitions of contemporary art in the neighbouring coking plant and the world’s largest presentation of contemporary design in the colliery’s redesigned boiler house. Zollverein is the living embodiment of high-power industrialisation and simultaneously a symbol of structural transformation in the Ruhrgebiet. In 2001 the pit was inscribed into the United Nations list of World Heritage Sites.

Zollverein Mine and Coking Plant World Heritage Site
Besucherzentrum Zollverein Zeche Zollverein Schacht XII Gebäude A 14 / Kohlenwäsche
Gelsenkirchener Str. 181
45309 Essen
+49 (0) 201 - 246810


The history of the Zollverein pit and coking plant is full of individual records. The first pit was sunk in 1847. This was followed by three more before the end of the century. At the time it was the number one pit in the Ruhrgebiet. But it really became famous with the opening of the central shaft number XII in 1932. The yield of coal at Zollverein was 12,000 tons per day, by far the largest of any coal mine in Europe. In addition the surface buildings at shaft XII were the first to be constructed on the lines of a steel skeleton construction. The cube like buildings with their red brick walls and steel trelliswork not only looked good, they were extraordinarily practical. No wonder that they set the style for industrial architecture in the Ruhrgebiet. Between 1957 and 1961 the Zollverein plant was extended by the addition of a coking plant. And soon after that its 192 furnaces had to be increased to 304, making it the largest industrial plant of its kind in the world. But the gradual decline of the pit dragged down coke production accordingly. In 1986 most available coal supplies had been exhausted and the final shift descended the shaft at Zollverein on Xmas eve that year. The coking plant survived for another seven years. But around the same time began the amazing transformation of Zollverein to the most important monument of high-tech mining at the present time. Its inscription into the United Nations list of Cultural Heritage Sites is the best proof of this. The stylised image of the imposing twin pithead gear is well-known throughout Germany. A factory of the future has been established out of the former pit and coking plant. Here living industrial history is twinned with an economically powerful centre for design and the arts. For looking ahead to the future has a long tradition in the Ruhrgebiet. In this respect Zollverein is once again number one.

Recommended duration of visit:4 Hours
Duration of a guided Tour:120 Minutes
Access for persons with disabilities:For details see website
Infrastructure for Children:
Visitor centre on site:yes
Gift and book shop on Site:yes

You can visit the area of the colliery and the cokeworks at any time for free. 

Visitor Centre and Ruhr Museum (colliery, building A 14):
daily 10am-6pm

For opening hours of other institutions - see web site

  • Guided tours optional
  • Tours in other languages
  • Guided tours for children

This website uses cookies