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Visiting Voelklingen, Saarland, Germany: wooded locality formerly known for heavy industry
Trees hiding a dynamic past
As the main photo, above, bears out, there is a lot of woodland in Voelklingen, in Germany's Saarland. It was not always so. Formerly known more for its heavy industry, scenes from the past, captured on film, seem to exemplify William Blake's 'dark, Satanic mills'. But today, what were once slag heaps from the former Röchling’schen Iron- and Steelworks now look like artificial hills that have been greened over.
Actually, I am not here to knock heavy industry, which, when its activities locally were economic to pursue, played a very positive role for the Saarland and Germany. Indeed, the former Voelklingen Ironworks (German: Voelklinger Huette ) has even been declared a World Heritage Site (Weltkulturerbe ) (1), and participates in the network known as the European Route of Insdustrial Heritage (German: Europäische Route der Industriekultur ). Coal mining, also, was formerly important locally.
Voelklingen is situated on the Saar River, and thus its past status as the Saarland's leading steelmaking centre was linked to the ready availability of water, when the industry was first developed in the 19th century (2). The city is also situated near the French border; and given that the Saarland was detached for a few years from Germany after World War Two, and the Federal German Republic in the first years of its history, did not actually control the city's heavy industry.
But my memories of my visit to Voelklingen are of pleasing, quiet woodland, some of it so thoroughly mature that in places it is as if the former heavy industry had never existed (although some industry remains).
October 15, 2012
(1) Pioneered by Julius Buch and, later, Carl Roechling in the late 19th century, the ironworks was active until 1986. A blast furnace has been preserved; the site of the former Voelklingen Ironworks is now a museum.
(2) Similar comments could be made about the proximity of the Ruhr River to the industrial complexes of North Rhine/Westphalia (German: Nordrhein-Westfalen), the Rouge River to the development of the Detroit motor industry, etc.
Also worth seeing
In Voelklingen itself, towered former City Hall (German: Rathaus ) is an ornate building. The St. Eligius church is an unusual, imposing structure. A Wildlife Park (German: Wildapark ) exists, containing 11 hectares of parkland.
Saarbruecken (distance: 12 kilometres) visitor attractions include: the Baroque St Johann's Basilica and Stengel's Peace Church (German: Friedenskirche ); the 16th century Old Bridge (German: Alte Bruecke ); the neo-Gothic St Johann's City Hall (German: Rathaus St. Johann ); Saarbruecken Castle and the Castle Wall; and many others.
Saarlouis (distance 16 kilometres) has the birthplace of Marshal Ney.
Nennig , Saarland (distance: 60 kilometres) has a well preserved mosaic at the ruins of a Roman villa.
How to get there: Lufthansa flies to Frankfurt-am-Main (distance from Voelklingen : 199 kilometres), from where car hire is available. The railroad company DB maintains a service between Frankfurt-am-Main and Voelklingen . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting the Birthplace of Marshall Ney, Saarlouis, Germany: in search of the identity of the Saarla
- Visiting Kleinblittersdorf, Saarland, Germany: peaceful, border village with complex, territorial ps
- Visiting Nennig, Saarland: preserved Roman remains near the Mosel River, Germany
- Visiting Saarburg, Germany: picturesque town on the Saar River with perceived, multiple identities
- Visiting the Reichstag, Berlin: the history of Germany, past and future