Minett Tour: New ERIH regional route exploring Luxembourg's mining and steel history

Luxembourg, surprising as it might seem, was once an industrial powerhouse. The centre of this development was the ore mining district in the south of the duchy right at the border of the Lorraine and Saarland iron and steel regions. Today, mines and blast furnaces are history, but they are not forgotten. An exciting 35-kilometre ERIH regional route takes visitors back to the days when miners and steelworkers laid the foundations for the country's current prosperity.

De Minett, as the people of Luxembourg call the south of their country, owes its name to the iron ore that causes the region's soils to shimmer red. The exploitation of this mineral resource propelled the area into the industrial age as early as the beginning of the 19th century. This is particularly evident in Rumelange, now home to the National Museum of Iron Ore Mines: For almost 150 years, from 1824 to 1964, miners dug for iron ore in the area of the "Roches Rouges", the Red Rocks - first in open-cast mines and after 1870 in underground workings as well. Thus they launched an industrial process that would turn Luxembourg, on the eve of World War I, into one of the world' s top ten producers of pig iron and iron ore.

Rumelange, with its mining museum and ERIH anchor point, is the gateway to the new regional route. The route's limited distance of only 35 kilometres provides a quick but comprehensive understanding of Luxembourg's mining history. There is plenty to discover: aboard a steam train in the Minett Park Fond-de-Gras, riding a miner's railway in the Rumelange galleries, strolling around the restored colliery site of the Katzenberg Mine with the Cockerill Mine Museum in Esch-sur-Alzette, or climbing one of the blast furnaces in the former state-of-the-art Belval Ironworks.

Historic mining towns, converted industrial hubs and a wealth of history and nature - all this is just a stone's throw away. And since the Grand Duchy's rapid industrial rise attracted many workers from abroad, the Document Centre for Human Migrations in Dudelange is also part of the Minett Tour. It illustrates the change in society and the interaction of cultures based on the example of the local "Italian" quarter with its particular architecture and the stories of its inhabitants.

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