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Regional route Euregio Meuse-Rhine | Germany

The three-nation region around Liège, Maastricht and Aachen, known as the Euregio Maas-Rhine, has often been described as „Europe on a small scale“. It comprises three countries, three languages and five regions – (the Belgians contribute one Walloon and one Flemish province, as a well as a ... more

The Euregio Meuse-Rhine Regional Route

The three-nation region around Liège, Maastricht and Aachen, known as the Euregio Maas-Rhine, has often been described as „Europe on a small scale“. It comprises three countries, three languages and five regions – (the Belgians contribute one Walloon and one Flemish province, as a well as a German-speaking community) – and its rich multiplicity, huge potential and small problems mirror all the distinctive features of Europe as a whole. Nowadays 3,700,000 people live here, around half of whom live in Belgium, a third in Germany and a fifth in the Netherlands. The Euregio offers visitors the opportunity of getting to know a dense and highly variegated network of industrial heritage within a very small area – and, not least, to get in touch with different European cultures and life-styles!

Nowadays you would scarcely guess that this region is one of the oldest and most important centres of pre-industrial trading activity and early industrialisation in Europe. Coal mining, ore mining, iron and brass goods manufacturing, cloth-making, pottery – all these trades had taken on almost global dimensions here long before the triumphal march of industrialisation. Liège was widely acknowledged to be the „forge of Europe“. As early as the 18th century a Monschau cloth manufacturer by the name of Scheibler was importing wool from Spain and exporting exquisitely made cloth as far as the harems in the Levant. Pottery products from Langerwehe and Raeren have been found in excavations throughout the whole of Europe.

The Belgians, in particular, were always hard on the heels of the British, when it came to technological developments. The first steam engine for pumping water from coal pits was built here as early as 1720. Wallonia can lay claim to a series of further technical „firsts“: some of these were due to a man named William Cockerill who had emigrated here from England and who set up mechanical workshops in Verviers and later in Liège. Other „firsts“ include the first wool-spinning machine, the first fully-integrated iron and steel works, and the first steam engine on the continent! And all the new technology which was to revolutionise the world began its triumphal march in Liège; first of all into the neighbouring regions and later all over the continent.

The newfangled mechanical spinning engines and dressing machines replaced mass manual labour. It is therefore no accident that one of the most famous acts of machine-breaking took place here in the region in a cloth-making town by the name of Eupen. When shearing machines were delivered to the town at the start of the 19th century, the cloth shearers – self-confident and well-paid craftsmen – destroyed and sank the new machines in the Gospert stream. That said, they were unable to hold back the march of time. Verviers, Eupen, Aachen, Düren and Euskirchen soon became important centres of the cloth-making industry.

There were 61 steam engines in operation in Aachen as early as 1830, a quarter of the total in the whole of Prussia! In 1825, when the Ruhrgebiet was still an idyllic rural area, John Cockerill had a workforce of 2,000 people in one of the largest and most modern iron and steel works of the age. The gigantic Cockerill-Sambre factory complex in Seraing grew out of this complex. The Aachen region soon followed suit by importing knowledge, technicians, machines and capital. Metal manufacturing around Aachen and in the Nordeifel region, however, quickly declined into insignificance once again around the mid 19th century, because several industrialists – including Hoesch and Thyssen – moved to the Ruhrgebiet, partly with Belgian capital and technicians, where even more favourable conditions existed.

At the start of the 19th century, coal-mining also flourished around Liège, in the Wurm area north of Aachen and in Limburg in the Netherlands. Thanks to the introduction of steam engines it was finally possible to pump the water from the pits and conduct mining on a large scale. A comprehensive area of calamine mining sprung up around the huge deposits of calamine existing around the town of Kelmis. A particularly curious historical fact was that the area was officially recognised as being independent of any particular nation state. Here – and also in Liège and Stolberg – the ore was further processed into zinc products. At the end of the 19th century near Mechernich around 3,000 miners were employed in one of the largest lead mines in Europe!

Open-cast brown coal mining, which received a fresh boost following technical improvements at the end of the 19th century, has a much younger history. Only then did brown coal mining and the further processing of coal briquettes become economically viable. Even today, north of the A4 motorway between Aachen and Cologne, large areas of land and villages have been sacrificed to open-cast brown coal mining with gigantic excavators, although briquette production has disappeared entirely. The local residents who have been deprived of their homes and communities are still being moved out and this has naturally led to hefty protests and massive political conflicts.

Coal mining, iron and steel – not forgetting the cloth industry – at first remained the most important pillars of the Euregio Maas-Rhine economy in the 20th century. That said, all three major branches suffered a heavy period of crisis after the Second World War and today they no longer play a central role in economic life. What remains are a huge number of museums and monuments which help to keep alive the memory of the region's extraordinary industrial history. It is precisely the boundaries between the different countries which have led to the huge amount of splendid museums which can be found here, for every region wanted to preserve and present its own particular history.

It is precisely the small-scale legacies of pre- and early industrial activity, often situated along the banks of streams and rivers which make this region so particularly attractive: an unusual mixture of trading and industrial topography surrounded by green spaces and water! But the „Three-Nation“ area also offers its guests visitor mines, coal-tip topographies, impressive trading and industrial architecture, and museums with fascinating exhibits and demonstrations of machines in working order.

Over 30 industrial museums from five regions have been working together closely in a cross-border association since 1998. The association is also responsible for conceiving this particular ERIH regional route. Because national boundaries increasingly became perception boundaries during the last century and were – and still are – responsible for defining „mental maps“ there is still too little cross-border general knowledge about the fascinating density and the high quality of leisure experiences offered by the industrial heritage topography in the Euregio Maas-Rhine area.


ERIH Anchor Points

Beringen | Belgium

What a sight! The long line of carefully built ...

Beringen Mine Museum
Mijnmuseum Beringen
Koolmijnlaan 201
3582 Beringen, Belgium

Blegny | Belgium

Les Gueules Noires - the black faces: That’s ...

Blegny Mine World Heritage Site
Domaine Touristique de Blegny-Mine
Rue Lambert Marlet, 23
4670 Blegny, Belgium

Euskirchen | Germany

Dust hangs in the air. It smells of oil and ...

Mueller Cloth Mill LVR Industrial Museum
Carl-Koenen-Str. 25b
53881 Euskirchen, Germany

Member Sites ERIH Association

Alsdorf | Germany

Alsdorf is mining community about 15 kilometres ...

Konrad-Adenauer-Allee 7
52477 Alsdorf, Germany


Amay | Belgium

The contrast could scarcely be greater: the ...

Les Maitres du Feu - Route du Feu
Maîtres du feu à Amay – Route du feu
Rue de Bende 5
B-4540 Amay, Belgium

Bocholt | Belgium

The brewery at Bocholt, 38 km north-east of ...

Bocholt Brewery Museum
Bocholter Brouwerijmuseum
Dorpsstraat 53
3550 Bocholt, Belgium

Comblain-au-Pont | Belgium

Grey rocky cliffs rise up out of the valley, ...

Carrière souterraine du Petit Banc
Carrières de Gèromont
Gèromont 105
4170 Comblain-au-Pont, Belgium

Hasselt | Belgium

Schnapps is not schnapps, corn liquor is not ...

Witte Nonnenstraat 19
3500 Hasselt, Belgium

La Calamine / Kelmis | Belgium

People enjoying the blossoming flowers and ...

Museum Vieille Montagne
Chaussèe de Liège / Lütticher Str. 278
4720 La Calamine/Kelmis, Belgium

Liège | Belgium

The location and the building fit the museum ...

The House of Metallurgy and Industry of Liège
Maison de la Metallurgie et de l´Industrie de Liège
Boulevard Raymond Poincaré 17
4020 Liège, Belgium

Liège | Belgium

Fans of rolling wheels will be in their ...

Wallonia Public Transport Museum
Musée des Transports en commun de Wallonie
Rue Richard Heintz 9
B-4020 Liège, Belgium

Seraing | Belgium

Outside the gates of Seraing, which is ...

Cristal Discovery Val Saint-Lambert
Val Saint-Lambert
Esplanade du Val
B-4100 Seraing, Belgium

Sprimont | Belgium

The road from Theux is lined with industrial ...

Museum of Stones
Centre d'Interprétation de la Pierre
Rue Joseph Potier 54
B-4140 Sprimont, Belgium

Verviers | Belgium

The buildings in Verviers are a dream for fans ...

Aqualaine. The Wool and Fashion Tourist Centre
Aqualaine. Centre Touristique de la Laine et de la Mode
Rue de la Chapelle 30
4800 Verviers, Belgium

Bad Münstereifel | Germany

To the east of the tourist town of Bad ...

The Effelsberg Radio Observatory
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie Radioobservatorium Effelsberg
53902 Bad Münstereifel, Germany

Bergheim | Germany

The typical signs of Rhineland brown coal ...

Rhenish Brown Coal Open-Cast Mining Area
Informationszentrum der RWE Power Schloss Paffendorf
50126 Bergheim, Germany

Düren | Germany

You can find it everywhere. The trouble is, ...

Wallstraße 2-8
52349 Düren, Germany

Gangelt-Schierwaldenrath | Germany

The speed is breathtaking. The train rushes ...

Interessengemeinschaft Historischer Schienenverkehr e.V. (IHS) Postanschrift: Postfach 10 07 02, 52007 Aachen Standort Selfkantbahn:
Am Bahnhof
52530 Gangelt, Germany

Hellenthal | Germany

It is cold, somewhat damp, and dark. At places ...

Wohlfahrt Mine Visitor Mine
Rescheid - Aufbereitung II 1
53940 Hellenthal, Germany

Mechernich | Germany

Visitors are advised to wrap up warmly and don ...

Mechernich Mining Museum
Bergbaumuseum Mechernich
Bleibergstraße 6
53894 Mechernich, Germany

Monschau | Germany

The guests reverently climb the wonderfully ...

Red House Monschau
Stiftung Scheibler-Museum
Laufenstraße 10
52156 Monschau, Germany

Stolberg | Germany

The decisive moment has arrived. The children ...

Zinkhütter Hof
Museum für Industrie-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte
Cockerillstraße 90
52222 Stolberg, Germany

Kerkrade | Netherlands

Listen to it, look at it, touch it, smell it, ...

Continium - Discovery Center
Museumplein 2
6461 MA Kerkrade, Netherlands

Simpelveld | Netherlands

Scarcely anyone will be able to remember this ...

De Miljoenenlijn. South Limburg Steam Train Company
De Miljoenenlijn. Zuid-Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappij
Stationstraat 20-22
6369 VJ Simpelveld, Netherlands

Valkenburg aan de Geul | Netherlands

Do you fancy sitting in an underground cinema, ...

Valkenburg Coalmine
Steenkolenmijn Valkenburg
Daalhemerweg 31 Postbus 1
6300 AA Valkenburg, Netherlands