Having a Blast at Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord

Where to break the journey between Calais and Berlin?  A quick look at the map showed that the Ruhr region of Germany was about halfway.  Hmmm?  Isn’t the Ruhr all heavy industry?  Flicking the pages of the Rough Guide to Germany, I discovered that a disused iron plant had been transformed into a public park.  That was it, our mid-journey pitstop was to be the Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord.

Industry and history both fascinate me.  In the dim and distant past I was the Assayer’s wife at the Morwellham Quay industrial museum in Devon.  Before the Teens arrived I was a BBC News producer specialising in Business and Economics, that meant I got to spend a lot of time in factories.  Now it is a family joke that every family holiday has to include some kind of factory visit, Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord is the biggest one we’ve done so far!

What is the Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord?

Simply put Landschaftpark Duisburg Nord is a park made out of a disused iron plant. Sounds unlikely?  It sounded pretty well impossible to me.  The first time I travelled through the Ruhr was as a thirteen year old on a school trip.  We came from rural Norfolk, sugar beet factories were the limit of our experience of industrial processes. The Ruhr was a kaleidoscope of different coloured gases as all manner of chemical plants, steel plants and coke works belched out effluent.  That one of the biggest pig iron works should shut was unthinkable, that it should become a park unbelievable ….. and yet here I was taking my children to see just such a thing.

Landschaftspark Blast Furnace

History of Meiderich Ironworks

In 1903 the first blast furnace of the Thyssen owned Meiderich Ironworks fired up and by 1912 there were five furnaces in total.  Coal and Iron Ore were used to produce Pig Iron.  Handily the Thyssen family also owned a coalfield nearby.  During the 70’s (when my school coach drove past the plant) there was a crisis in world steel production, leading to the closure of the plant in 1985.  82 years and 37 million tonnes of pig iron later, the site was abandoned.

What on earth do you do with a 200 hectare heavily polluted industrial wasteland. Great rusting hulks of blast furnaces loomed over the landscape.  Some bright spark came up with the idea of transforming the area into a public park.  Trees would be planted,  a gas holder would become a diving centre, ore storage bunkers could become a climbing centre and cycle paths created.

Pipe work Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord

What to do at the Landschaftpark Duisburg Nord

You could easily spend a full day at the Landschaftpark.  We only had three hours on a day that we had got up at 5am and driven 350 miles and had another 350 miles to drive the next day.   You can walk, cycle, climb, dive, take in a movie, eat, drink, sleep all without leaving the park.

Smoking chimney stacks Ruhr Germany
Blast Furnace 5 viewing platform

A steel staircase snakes up and round Blast Furnace 5 allowing you to climb up into the heart of ironworks.  Pipes larger in diameter than a person writhe around you.  The scale is massive.  I’m sure that the views from the top are very impressive.  Why didn’t I see them?  Well, that staircase is made of open steel mesh enabling you to see just how far up you have climbed, after awhile we all admitted that the view was just fine from three quarters of the way up.  Being so up close and personal with a blast furnace is incredible, it may be rusting and old but the sheer scale of it is hugely impressive.  In the distance you can still see the remaining industrial plants smoking away.

Blast Furnace 5 viewing platform
Cycling and Cycle Hire

You can cycle round the park on well marked paths or if you are feeling intrepid follow some long distance cycle paths criss-cross the park.  If you haven’t bought your own bike with you, don’t fret, it is possible to hire one.  You will need to book the bike in advance on the Revier Bike website.  Don’t worry the site is in English.  All manner and size of bikes are available, grown up, child, tag along and electric.  Prices start at €9 per day.

Diving

One of the gas holders has been transformed in Europe’s largest indoor diving space.  There is an artificial reef and a wrecked motor boat to explore in the 21 million litres of rain water that fill the gas holder.  If you have never dived before you can book a taster session for €44 including equipment.

Gasholder Diving Centre Landschaftspark
Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord Light Show

Red, blue and green light washes over the vast bulk of the ironworks every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.  Word is that the show is spectacular, indeed it was what drew us to the Landschaftspark.  However, we were defeated, having had a very early start we were simply too tired to wait until the sun went down at gone 9pm.  The start of the light show is triggered by a twilight switch, so the start time changes each evening.  In the winter showtime can begin as early as 5pm and in the summer as late as 10pm.  

Eating at Landschaftpark Duisburg Nord

If you just want to grab a quick bite to eat there is a kiosk selling snacks.  We were in the market for our main meal of the day and opted for the Main Switching House Restaurant where the Teens gleefully ordered the first Curry Wurst of the holiday, washed down with Spezi.  What is Spezi? I hear you cry.  It is a muddy mix of Fanta and Cola, discovered in Munich’s beer gardens and much loved by the Teens.

Switching House Restaurant Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord

Staying at Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord

If you want to sleep in an old ironworks then you are in luck.  The old administration building has been converted into a Youth Hostel.  En suite family rooms are available.  Prices start from €22.90 for Bed and Breakfast in a shared dorm or €27.90 per person in a private family room.  You need to be a member of either the DJH (German Youth Hostel Association) or a member of Hosteling International to stay (membership of the YHA in the UK will get you in).  We stayed at the Mercure Oberhausen which was conveniently close to the motorway junction for our onward journey to Berlin.

Getting to Landscaftspark Duisburg Nord

We drove to the Landschaftspark and simply put Landschaftspark into Sadie the SatNav who guided us there.  Beware that there are two EmscherStrasse in Duisburg …. if in doubt you want the one that is in Duisburg Obermeiderich.

If you are coming by train, get off at Duisburg Hbf (Haupt Bahnhof or main train station) and follow the blue and white U signs to the tram station.  Catch tram 903 in the direction Dinslaken to the Lanschaftspark-Nord stop.  It is a 10 minute signposted walk from the tram stop.

Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord – Need to Know

  • Emscherstrasse 71, Duisburg
  • Open all day, every day
  • Visitor centre open: Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm, weekends 11am – 6pm
  • Blast Furnace viewing platform open all day, every day, except when bad weather makes it unsafe.
  • Light Installation: Friday – Sunday dusk – 1am
  • Restaurant: Tuesday – Thursday 11am – 7pm, Friday – Saturday 11am – Midnight, Sunday 11am – 8pm
  • Admission is free but charges are payable for diving and the like.

CulturedKids

California Globetrotter

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39 Comments

  1. October 5, 2018 / 9:09 am

    Good heavens! The places you find! This is fascinating stuff, another great blog!

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 5, 2018 / 2:12 pm

      It is an incredible place and I need to stay in the Youth Hostel!

  2. October 5, 2018 / 5:44 pm

    I loved seeing this on your stories this summer and am so pleased you’ve blogged about it. Our industrial heritage is so important, but is often not preserved. Making it a park with so many fun activities is a great idea. I now want to drive to Berlin, just so I can spend a night here! #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 5, 2018 / 5:46 pm

      I’m thinking that a mini break in the Ruhr exploring the Industrial Heritage is in order!

  3. October 6, 2018 / 11:44 am

    What an absolutely nutty, fantastic idea. Shame there isn’t a proper restaurant in there, think of the possibilities. Now, I never knew you had a penchant for factories, Catherine! #CULTUREDKIDS

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 6, 2018 / 12:23 pm

      I LOVE Factories 🏭 ….. happiest in a hard hat!

  4. Michelle Maraj
    October 6, 2018 / 7:36 pm

    Wow, what a unique park. I’m surprised that it’s safe enough to explore lime that? But this sounds like a super neat place to visit.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 2:52 pm

      I’m guessing that the health and safety legislation in Germany ensures that you’re only allowed to do what is safe!

  5. October 6, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    Ah wow, this is fascinating and seriously challenging the concept of a park and leisure! The only thing similar that comes to my mind was Berlin clubbing until 8am in a former huge factory – surreal exerience to say the least! But this is definitely sharing material with my boys (as opposed to clubbing Berlin just yet!) and I bet they’d love it. Who would ever guess as well that this is Europe’s largest indoor diving space with a reef? 😉 Serious gem and pinning material! #CulturedKids

  6. October 6, 2018 / 8:08 pm

    What an amazing find. I love anywhere that’s a bit different and this is definitely different!

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 2:51 pm

      Very different, I will struggle to beat it in terms of odd places to visit on holiday!

  7. Anisa
    October 6, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    What an interesting find. Neat that you can spend the night there. Too bad you missed that light show. So how high up is that viewing platform? Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 2:51 pm

      It is 70 metres high, which doesn’t sound very high but was vary scary on a open mesh steel stairway by about 50 metres high!

  8. October 7, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    I would probably like to hire one of the bicycles and take a spin along the marked paths as you mention. A chance to see the park and get some exercise too if the weather is good would make me happy. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 7, 2018 / 4:00 pm

      We would definitely do the cycling next time

  9. bavariansojourn
    October 7, 2018 / 9:25 pm

    What an amazing place!! I absolutely love industrial stuff like this, I am not sure why, I just always have done. It’s actually really beautiful in my eyes! 😀 #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 7, 2018 / 9:38 pm

      Same here, I blame an early visit to Blists Hill

  10. October 8, 2018 / 7:18 am

    How have I not heard of this place yet!? It looks pretty cool and it’s quite interesting how they transformed this old steel plant! I can imagine though the staircases being a bit scary. I too would probably struggle. Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 7:45 am

      My eyes were opened to the attractions of the whole Ruhrgebiet ….. which Were words I never thought I would write!

  11. October 8, 2018 / 7:33 am

    If they had squeezed in an art gallery as well It would be my idea of heaven. :d

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 7:46 am

      I’m sure that there is some sculpture somewhere

  12. October 8, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    It’s amazing what a work of art they are! What a find, and a fantastic blog to read – I don’t think I[‘d ever have discovered something like this! #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 2:46 pm

      It was an amazing experience

  13. October 8, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    What a place. I can’t quite get my head around it. It looks like it should have loads of ‘Danger! Keep Out’ signs still dotted everywhere. I’d love to explore it.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 2:47 pm

      There are some ‘off limits’ areas but you are remarkably free to wander at will

  14. planadventurelive
    October 8, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    How interesting to be able to explore an old iron plant and even stay there! I love that it has been turned into a tourist spot, instead of just sitting there taking up space. A very cool experience, I’m sure. Thanks for sharing! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 9, 2018 / 9:13 am

      So cool far better than becoming a redundant space

  15. October 10, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    What an interesting park, and great way of preserving – and reusing – the past! I’m thinking now of some of our derelict factories near our home base and wondering how they can be repurposed! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 11, 2018 / 3:15 pm

      Such a neat idea. always good to see the redundant repurposed

  16. October 14, 2018 / 9:58 am

    I’m very interested to read about your adventure in the Ruhrgebiet – old name “Kohlenpott”! Have you heard of the Magna Centre in Sheffield, at visitmagna.co.uk? It used to be the Templeborough Steel Works – also well worth a visit.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 2:39 pm

      I haven’t but shall add Sheffield to my list!

  17. October 18, 2018 / 11:29 am

    This is so cool! It reminds me of the St Louis City Museum. I love how everything has been recycled to make something super cool.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 19, 2018 / 3:52 pm

      Scurrying off to investigate St Louis City Museum now

  18. October 18, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    We often try to break up our drives with a sight or two, and this seems like such a cool place to stop! Seattle has a park made of an old factory, it’s called Gas Works Park, and while it doesn’t have all that this place offers it is a very popular park with parts of the old factory open to climb on and explore. Such a great way to make use of places like this. #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 19, 2018 / 3:51 pm

      I like the sound of Gas Works Park

  19. Ruth Murdoch
    October 21, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    This is certainly a far cry from the warm fuzzies of a typical theme park. However, I guess it works! It will be on our list to visit when we head that way, thanks.

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 21, 2018 / 8:20 pm

      Very different to a theme park!

  20. October 26, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    I have not heard of this Landschaftpark Duisburg before. Looks like a fascinating place to visit something different. Thanks for detailed information and great tips!

    • Catherine
      Author
      October 28, 2018 / 1:12 pm

      I’m still amazed at the scale of the place, I would have been able to walk through some of the pipes without stooping!

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