For centuries, the natural triad of ore deposits, forests for the extraction of charcoal and water power establish the Siegerland and Sauerland regions as pacesetters of the iron and steel industry. From the mid 19th century, however, the balance is shifted. Coke, extracted from the Ruhr area's vast rich coal deposits, replaces charcoal as a fuel in blast furnaces. In the District, this is achieved for the first time in 1848/49 at the Friedrich Wilhelms ironworks in Mülheim. Technological innovations in pig iron and steel production such as puddle works, Bessemer converters and the Thomas process are also first introduced in the Ruhr. From then on, the booming Ruhr cities are dominated by dynasties of steel tycoons: Thyssen in Duisburg, Haniel and Jacobi in Oberhausen, Krupp in Essen, Hoesch in Dortmund. In the Siegerland and Sauerland regions the blast furnaces are now being converted to coke operation. This was made possible in 1861 by the construction of the Hagen-Siegen railway line, which brought Ruhr coal to southern Westphalia at low cost. In turn, the smelting works in the Ruhr area gain access to the high-quality spathic iron ore from the Siegerland region. Today ThyssenKrupp Steel in Duisburg-Hamborn, Europe's largest iron and steelworks, is one of the last remaining steel producing sites in the Ruhr, while other former works have been transformed into beacons of industrial culture. South Westphalia, on the other hand, has been able to assert itself as an industrial region: there, exciting technical monuments are located next door to highly specialised European and world market leaders.


All Iron & Steel travel destinations

On this Google map, you can find all the highlights and other destinations of the Steel Time trip from the Iron & Steel category. So you can navigate and plan easily. Alternatively, you can also download our overview map with all info as a PDF file.

Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord

EisenStahl 11 Landschaftspark Duisburg

The insane heat – 1,500 degrees at the blast furnace tapping – has gone, but the rest of the former Thyssen steelworks is still there, albeit different: the gasometer is now a pool for divers, the ore bunker is a climbing park, and the view from blast furnace 5 overlooks the western Ruhr District. Hard to believe that ores from all over the world – including some from the Siegerland – were once smelted here on a grand scale …

Read More

LVR-Industriemuseum St. Antony-Hütte

EisenStahl 12 St. Antony-Huette

An idyllic place, the "cradle of the Ruhr industry": next to the remains of the first ironworks in the Ruhr region – dated 1758 – the Elpenbach pond reflects the office building and the former home of the plant manager as dignified timbered houses. Johann Eberhard Pfandhöfer, a dubious ironmaster from Siegen, is at the centre of the struggle for power that marks the rise of the Ruhr industry …

Read More

Gasometer Oberhausen

EisenStahl 13 Gasometer Oberhausen

117.5 metres high, 67.7 metres in diameter: on its inauguration in 1929, this disc-type gas holder is Europe's largest gasometer. Today, Oberhausen's highly visible landmark is a reminder of the heavy industry that set the Ruhr District apart from other industrial regions such as South Westphalia, and attracts thousands of visitors as one of the most unusual exhibition venues on the continent …

Read More

Villa Hügel

EisenStahl 14 Villa Hügel

Like a jewel of industrialisation, the splendid Krupp residence overlooks Lake Baldeney. Completed in 1873, Villa Hügel is a representative monument to the family's industrial empire, which also included ore mines in the Siegerland region. Today, the main building hosts temporary exhibitions and top-class concerts, while the annexe tells the history of the Krupps' company and family …

Read More

LWL-Museum Henrichshütte Hattingen

EisenStahl 15 Henrichshütte Hattingen

The earliest surviving blast furnace in the Ruhr District is not found in Essen or Oberhausen, but in idyllic Hattingen on the region's southern fringes. Compared to the town' s medieval timber frame, the steelworks, dating back to 1854, appears as if from outer space. Three trails provide a fascinating insight into towering giants of technology, hard-boiled ironworkers and the advance of nature …

Read More


EisenStahl 16 Phoenixsee

Hermann Diedrich Piepenstock, an entrepreneur from Iserlohn, would hardly have dreamed of this: the Hermannshütte he founded dominates the Dortmund district of Hörde for 160 years, and then, in just six years, the giant steelworks is transformed into a local recreation area with an artificial lake, noble town houses and fancy restaurants. The only reminder of the "steel era" is a basic converter …

Read More

LWL-Freilichtmuseum Hagen

EisenStahl 17 Freilichtmuseum Hagen

No drive without water! This also applies to the Sauerland pre- and early industrial technology. Whether grain or fulling mill, grinding mill or wire drawing plant, smelting works or hammer mill – the location is always: in the valley, by the water! The water wheels also turn in the open-air museum in Mäckingerbachtal. This is what mechanical work looked like before the Ruhr coal replaced water power …

Read More

Westfälisches KettenschmiedeMuseum

EisenStahl 18 Kettenschmiedemuseum

This museum has a lot in store. It offers bears, fire breaks and even a swing ride, but none of this is what you might imagine. Because this is about forging heavy chains with heavy machinery. This has long been an important industry in both the Ruhr and Sauerland regions. Fröndenberg is right at the interface between the two regions …

Read More

Historische Fabrikanlage Maste-Barendorf

EisenStahl 19 Barendorf

Straightening, de-burring, blueing, handling: the machines in the historic needle factory accurately demonstrate how wire is processed into an eye needle. Right next door, in the brass foundry, visitors can watch brass being cast live. Needles and brass products are what Iserlohn was once famous for, also in the neighbouring Ruhr area. And here, in the Historic Maste-Barendorf Factory, their manufacture is on display …

Read More

Museen Burg Altena

EisenStahl 20 Burg Altena

One of Germany's most beautiful hilltop castles towers high above the old wire-drawing town. It was built from the 12th century onwards to protect the regional iron production. Under the motto 'Knights, smiths, wanderers', it shows the history of the industrially outstanding Märkisches Sauerland and that of the world's first youth hostel. Today you can reach the castle by a spectacular adventure lift …

Read More

Deutsches Drahtmuseum

EisenStahl 21 Drahtmuseum

There are good reasons why the German Museum of Wire is located in Altena: this town is known as national wire capital since the Middle Ages. What this means in economic terms is evident to visitors at every turn: wire has always been indispensable – from chain mail to superconductors. That's why Altena wire was traded long ago in the Ruhr area and as far as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe …

Read More

Luisenhütte Wocklum

EisenStahl 22 Luisenhuette

Woods and meadows everywhere. Plus timber-framed buildings and a mill's pond. Idyllic! And inside the Luisenhütte? Visitors find themselves facing ten metre charcoal blast furnace built in 1758, and see "molten iron" flowing from the tapping – as a light staging imitation of light. And they find out: This ironworks – the oldest fully preserved in Germany – was once the blueprint for the early Ruhr ironworks …

Read More

Geschichtsmuseum Lüdenscheid

EisenStahl 23 Geschichtsmuseum Lüdenscheid

Important stop on the wire trade route, town of buttons, birthplace of the aluminium industry, centre of plastics processing – Lüdenscheid's road to industrialisation is complex and innovative. Thus it is the Osemunde iron forged here that ensures the early success of Märkisch wire products in the Ruhr District and across Europe. The museum turns this into a kaleidoscope colourful mixture of (cultural)-historic highlights …

Read More

Museum Wendener Hütte

EisenStahl 24 Wendener Hütte

A casting bay with charging floor and charcoal blast furnace, boiler house, raw material magazine, hammer mill, a shed for carriages and carts, a horse stable and – within sight – the owner's grand residence and office building: this is what Sauerland ironworks looked like in the 18th and 19th centuries, before their Ruhr competitors cut them off. And this is how it can still be seen in Wenden today …

Read More

Wir binden die Videos der Plattform “YouTube” des Anbieters Google LLC, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA, ein. Datenschutzerklärung:, Opt-Out: