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10 Industrial Heritage Sites That Will Elevate Your Instagram

In the heart of Europe, beyond the well-trodden paths of its famous historical landmarks and natural wonders, lies a different kind of heritage—one forged from iron and steel, powered by steam and coal, and echoing with the toil of industry.

This exploration is not just about revisiting the past; it's about discovering the beauty in the monumental structures and machinery that powered the old continent into the modern age. 

The brutalist concrete structures, rusty machinery, monumental Manchester buildings, and headframes are a dream setting for going out armed with your smartphone and taking pictures to elevate and enrich your Instagram account. Of course, you can find more inspiration via on Instagram.

World Heritage coal mines

Therefore, we take you to impressive coal mine relics, blast furnaces, ship loaders and railway infrastructure. Let's start with three former coal mines declared World Heritage Sites: Zeche Zollverein in Germany, Bois du Cazier in Belgium, and the Wallers-Arenberg mine in France. Some sites are converted to a museum.

Monumental blast furnaces

Not only coal mines produce beautiful images. The former steelworks with their monumental blast furnaces also capture the imagination. Traces of the iron and steel past can still be found in countries like Luxembourg, France and Germany.

Railway relics

And what about remnants of railways? Thousands of kilometers of unused rails, vacant stations or freight stations redeveloped into parks catapult you back to the era of steam locomotives and giant structures to overburden valleys.

The Vennbahn, stretching from Germany via Belgium to Luxemburg, is one of those abandoned railway lines. Today, you can cycle along it in a beautiful landscape. In Berlin, you can wander around in the former Tempelhof railway yard while you find the scenic  Anzin station near Valenciennes in France.

Rusting ship loader

Let's wrap your expedition up with one last, unique piece of industrial heritage, namely this ship loader along the Dender River in Lessines, Belgium. This ship loader, named 'Le Truc', was used to load stone from the quarries in Lessines on ships. However, since the 1980s, it has no longer been used.

Hundreds of industrial and military locations

Discover even more industrial heritage on or cultural tips via our interactive heritage map. Our site also offers you a bunch of military sites and abandoned places. Furthermore, you find regional routes with anchor points, like Route der Industriekultur (Germany, Ruhr) or the hiking route GR 412 Sentier des Terrils (Belgium).

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