Its nickname was “Racehorse” and in its life it travelled a total of 221 kilometres – a long way for a crawler swing excavator. In 1995 the old steel giant went into retirement in Ferropolis, the town of iron. Here it is surrounded by four other examples of decommissioned giant building machines, all at least 30 metres high and up to 150 metres long. It is possible to climb aboard one of these exhibits and get a good view of the green watery countryside beneath. Nearby is the peaceful town of Gräfenhainichen. It is difficult to believe that only a few years ago this was the centre of the brown coal industry in central Germany. At its high point 820 miners of both sexes were employed on the open-cast mining site at Golpa-Nord. Now the excavated desert lies sunk beneath Lake Gremmin. Right in the middle on a peninsula is Ferropolis, which is very much alive. Its arena is the showplace for spectacular open-air concerts. The old 30 kilovolt central electricity power station now houses a multifaceted museum of regional mining history. The “Orangerie” provides visitors with all the need to eat and drink and the old pit railway contains original old locomotives and a large collection of wagons. The rail network is still intact which means that visitors who come here by rail can travel directly to the concert arena.
Gräfenhainichen, the Golpa-Nord open mine. For years this was the site of unrestrained industrial power and environmental pollution. It was also the home of secure jobs and heavy labour by miners and engineers alike. Then suddenly there was no future for brown coal any more. What was to be done? Demolish the site, break it up and send it to the scrap heaps? Wipe out all traces of industrial activity or build on the past and dare to start anew? In 1957 preparations were made to begin work at Golpa-Nord and seven years later the brown coal mine went into operation as planned. Mining in central Germany has a long tradition going back to the 17th century. In the 1950s the scattered individual mining areas merged into a single entity and mining expanded to huge proportions. The final result was an output of 100,000,000 tons of coal per year, mined by almost 60,000 workers and used to supply innumerable power stations, coal-briquette factories and low temperature carbonisation plants. Another result was deep holes in the earth. Golpa-Nord was one of the smaller mines. Nonetheless it demanded an enormous amount of work. Six buckets of water had to be pumped off and five buckets of waste material transported to produce one bucket of brown coal. Production ceased in 1991 when the whole of the central German brown coal industry was threatened with extinction From then on a vision began to take shape for the future of Golpa-Nord. The idea came from Dessau, the centre of the Bauhaus design school. Its implementation is largely due to the enthusiasm and stubbornness of the local people. Now the Ferropolis Museum is simultaneously an industrial monument, a steel sculpture, event area and theme park. Towering over everything are the gigantic excavators which resemble dinosaurs from a long—forgotten era. But new developments have been underway for quite some time now as can be seen from the first re-locations of small business firms and the many new projects like floating houses or a complete holiday village whose electricity supply comes from the longest solar power station in Europe. It seems that Ferropolis does have future after all. Now is the time for celebration: international festivals and large-scale concerts by Herbert Grönemeyer and Metallica have given Ferropolis a reputation all over Europe as a unique setting for artists and audience alike. Cool Tradition!
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April to October
Monday - Friday 10am-6pm,
Saturday, Sunday, public holidays 10am-7pm, last admittance 6.30pm
November to March
Monday - Friday 10am-4pm,
Saturday, Sunday, public holidays 10am-dusk