Essen: Zollverein Industrial Park

The Zollverein Industrial Complex is the city's most famous landmark. For decades, the coal mine (current form mainly from 1932, closed in 1986) and the coking plant (closed in 1993) ranked among the largest of their kinds in Europe. Shaft XII, built in Bauhaus style, with its characteristic winding tower, which over the years has become a symbol for the whole Ruhr area, is considered an architectural and technical masterpiece, earning it a reputation as the "most beautiful coal mine in the world".[23] After UNESCO had declared it a World Heritage Site in 2001, the complex, which had lain idle for a long time and was even threatened to be demolished, began to see a period of redevelopment. Under the direction of an agency borne by the land of North Rhine-Westphalia and the city itself, several arts and design institutions settled mainly on the grounds of the former coal mine; a redevelopment plan for the coking plant is to be realised.

On the grounds of the coal mine and the coking plant, which are both accessible free of charge while paid guided tours (some with former Kumpels) are also available, several tourist attractions can be found, most importantly the Design Zentrum NRW/Red Dot Design Museum. The Ruhrmuseum, a museum dedicated to the history of the Ruhr area, which had been existing since 1904, will open its gates as one of the anchor attractions in the former coal-washing facility in autumn 2009.

Rem Koolhas with OMA redesigned the Zollverein Mining Complex into the Ruhr Museum and monument to old industrial machinery and architectural design. Completed in 2001, the complex includes museums, visitors centers, business sites, and the Folkwang University of the Arts.