Day 300: Volklingen IronworksDecember 11, 2017 in Germany
Last Heritage site in Trier today! Because we were heading to an ironworks, dogs weren't permitted anywhere on the premises so Schnitzel had to stay home on his own - a fairly rare event these days! Down the street to the bus stop where we caught the bus to the station, then an hour's train ride to Volklingen. As nice as it is to have him travel with us, it was really relaxing to travel without him - not having to worry about him barking at wheely suitcases, or other dogs, or the ticket inspectors, or anything else.
Arrived at Volklingen at headed over to the ironworks, which is absolutely immense. It was founded in the 1880s and operated for about a hundred years, during which time the owners streamlined the process to include smelting operations, blast furnaces and coking ovens too. So they could essentially just import raw materials, and ship out finished products. At one point it was the largest steel-making operation in Germany, and probably Europe too. When it shut down in 1986, the local government decided it was too expensive to dismantle, and that most of it wasn't worth salvaging. Eventually it made it on the world heritage list since it's so well preserved, and essentially unchanged.
We bought tickets and started wandering around - a little lost at first since the map was a bit confusing (it didn't show different floors for some reason!?), and there was one section roped off. Very quiet, we were almost the only people there. I was actually really enjoying it, just a huge facility with pipes and beams and wires and machinery poking out everywhere. In some parts, nature had started to reclaim the area, so you'd get buildings with all of the windows broken and trees growing out. Very atmospheric and post-apocalyptic!
Climbed up a couple of hundred steps to the panoramic viewpoint where you could see back to the town, across the whole site and to nearby factories as well - and the local nuclear plant. Always surprised to find these in Germany, but they're actually in the process of phasing them out (renewable energy is booming, and after Fukushima the German government decided they didn't want any further risks.
Finished up our tour and filming after a couple of hours, briefly had a look in the exhibit of Incan treasures (one huge manufacturing building was now an exhibition hall) then headed for the station. 15 minutes to the train, so we quickly ran across to a nearby mall and found a bakery selling baguettes, since it was well past lunchtime. Hurried back to the station where the train was now running late, but eventually made it back to Trier.
Bus ride back home, where Schnitzel was very happy to see us. He'd been well behaved, probably because his bed was directly on the heated floors! Stayed in for the evening, and had frozen flammkuchen for dinner which we'd bought at the supermarket earlier.Read more