The coal town of Bottrop in Germany may have been a coal mining hotbed but its Tetraeder is now a walk-able 200-foot-tall steel pyramid whose 400 stairs lead the visitors to the top overlooking the dull gray background of the mine dump. Bottrop sits in the Ruhr region of Germany, which played a determining role in the industrial success and boom of the country but has picked its pace up and now sees itself in a new avatar of a cultural hotspot, marking a new legacy in the European Route of Industrial Heritage that connects 13 countries. By Shubhanjana Das

The Tetraeder may have been considered a waste of public money by the people of the region during its time of construction but it now attracts millions of visitors every year who come to witness the brilliance of industrial re-purposing that Germany has ventured into. The Tetraedar may seem a bit like a post-apocalyptic monster robot but the higher you climb through the stairs within, the louder its creaks and sways, an intentional ‘mistake’ intended to remind the visitors of the lack of safety faced by the miners when they descended deep into the coal mines.

Once on top of the Tetrader, you will be reminded that not all beauty resembles the norm of aesthetics that has been spoon-fed to us. The barren, moon-like landscape of the coal plant against the forest cover beyond is a site that is worth the 400-stair climb.

The Ruhr region itself takes you through not one but about 50 cultural monuments that cover over 150 years of industrial heritage of the country. Colleries and industrial wasteland have been repurposed into architectural and design hotspots and tourist magnets for everyone whose sense of aesthetic is all swanky and quirky. The end of Bottrop’s days of industrial mining was paid tribute to by the architect Wolfgang Christ whose re-purposing of the Tetrader is a symbol of solidity and stability.

The mining region of Essen is home to the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex spread over 247 acres, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important stop on the ERIH. Even though 1986 saw the shutdown of Zollverein, it was later refashioned into a hub for art, concerts, festivals and sports. The disused mine now houses museums, offices, restaurants, an ice rink, a large public pool, and even a university! The cast green spaces give the youth the perfect spot for hanging out, appreciating art, and each other’s company.

All the industrial highlights on the Emscher, Lippe, Rhine and Ruhr rivers’ route can be covered by a 700-km-long bicycle route.

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