Having had a good night’s rest after our journey to Saarbrucken from Trier, we were raring to go visit the final UNESCO world heritage site of our trip. The Völklingen Ironworks is situated nearly 14km east of Saarbrucken. Inscribed in 1994 as a world heritage, this well-preserved pig-iron production facility is a testament to the industrial revolution. The entire plant is indeed a sight to behold. The sheer size of the complex made me realize the amount of energy, materials and man-power which go into maintaining our global economy.
At first we were treated to a multi-media introduction to the plant and it’s history. What we didn’t know is that there is an audio guide available online, which is free to download. However, even without the audio guide, the tour through the facility is very informative. After the introduction, we walked through the blower hall with the blast furnaces and then made our way towards the sintering plant.
Clockwise from bottom left: blower in the blower hall which provided compressed air for the blast furnaces, view of the sintering plant, monorail cars that transported raw materials and view of the plant again.
Like most industry in Germany, the Ironworks has a dark past as well. During the second world war, over 12,000 people were forced to work at the factory. At the time we visited, this topic was mentioned just in passing, but presently there is an exhibition that delves deeper into it. A memorial to the forced labourers has been created by Christian Boltanski and will be on display until 2028. For further information, I would recommend visiting the Völklingen Hütte website.
Apart from being an albeit impressive relic to the industrial revolution, the Völklingen Iron Works is also home to different art exhibitions. At the time we were there, there was the Urban Art Biennial which showcased some very beautiful art works.
Take me out of the bush (Left) and I am on a diet (Right), both by the Brazilian artist Cranio as exhibited at the Urban Art Biennial in 2017
We spent about four hours touring the plant. After that we decided to walk into the inner city of Völklingen for some lunch. After coffee, we drove back home having seen a part of Germany, the landscape of which has been changing since the pre-historic times.