'Ruhrpott' (Ruhr Valley)

Industrial Ruhr Valley region, colliery - Foto: Susanne Brügger Industrial Ruhr Valley region - 'Zollverein' colliery - Foto: Susanne Brügger

Ruhr valley is famous for its industrial history, originally based on coal mining and steel production and now benefiting from its industrial mix of energy production, environmental technologies and modern service industries.

Ever since the 18th century mining has been the main economical pillar in the Ruhr area. The ore was easily accessible and extracted by strip mining. After some time the miners had to dig deeper and many of the impressive industrial buildings emerged. Collieries, steel works and the high chimneys of the industrial revolution shaped the face of the Ruhr region.

Ecological and economical problems, mainly the traumatic coal crisis in the 1960s, destroyed confidence and optimism. Most coal mines in the Ruhr Valley were shut down and the number of jobs was halved. Unemployment and social unrest were just some of the more pressing problems.

In the past decades considerable effort has lead to modernization and diversification of the economic base at the Ruhr. Nowadays, the 'Ruhrpott' is once more a thriving region and an enormous urban area. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg and Essen form an inter-connecting metropolis. The old industrial ruins have been converted into cultural venues. Ancient mine 'Zeche Zollverein' and can-like 'Gasometer Oberhausen' are just some of the highlights of the modern Ruhr Valley area.

In 1856 the mysterious remains of a dead man were found while mining in a rather unknown valley in the Ruhr region called 'Neandertal'. After some scientific dispute there was no denial that a contemporary of the Cro Magnon man and a predecessor of modern man had been unearthed. The valley's name became a global byword for human prehistory - symbolizing a vital link in our evolutionary chain.