I think the second day of my holiday in the Ruhr area of Northern Germany was the best. It was certainly the most alternative, and very spectacular. However, there is a drawback to doing alternative activities in non-touristy paces: even though the public transport in Germany is fantastic, the places we went were quite difficult to get to.
We spent our second day in Duisburg, part of the “Industriekultur” or German Industrial Heritage cities. Duisburg Landschaftspark-nord is a suburban landscape park with a difference. It’s on the site of an old steel-works, and the industrial structures have been stabilized and left in their abandoned state, in the centre.
But, by far the best part, is that the towers are open for anyone to wander around. The walkways are just exposed metal grids, so you can see right down to the ground. All the structures are an impressive height, but they make fantastic viewpoints because the area all around is so flat.
I just think this is an amazing idea! It’s a celebration of German industry, but a lot of fun to visit. Plants are slowly growing over some of the structures, and the old warehouses have been turned into decorative garden spaces. I particularly appreciate this, because I studied Bernd and Hilla Becher when I took a photography course a couple of years ago. They photographed industrial areas in stunning black and white, and aimed to show that something so mundane as a steel – works chimney can be beautiful. They photographed a lot around Duisburg, and helped create a love and appreciation of the unusual shapes.
That afternoon, we went for a boat trip on the Rhine. But instead of gorgeous rural scenery, this boat celebrated what’s left of heavy industry. We passed cranes unloading goods barges, and machines squashing scrap metal. It’s bizarre – all the German tourists loved seeing piles of materials and were commenting on how photogenic the cranes were. Given that Britain seems embarrassed about what industry it has left, it was a refreshing – if unexpected – attitude.
It was an exhausting day, but well worth it!