Magical moments close to heaven

The Halden (slag heaps) on the Lower Rhine are very distinct monuments that are visible from a considerable distance and have a great story to tell. They serve as a reminder that the region has a rich industrial past with a valuable resource buried deep in the earth: coal. Today, hiking trails, stairways to heaven and works of art characterise these landmarks on the Lower Rhine – and all of them are worth a visit. Come along and discover these impressive mountains at the Lower Rhine.

Million tons of rock

But what are slag heaps anyway, and how were they formed? So-called slag heaps are formed from the overburden that is created when extracting coal and that is deposited on the surface of the earth. Millions of tonnes of rock are stored in these hills. With a height of more than 100 metres in some cases, these slag heaps stand out from afar in the lowlands of the Lower Rhine. Today, they are green and popular destinations for active holidaymakers.

The work of art ‘Geleucht’ (Miner’s Lamp) by Otto Piene is visible from a considerable distance on the ‘Halde Rheinpreußen’ near Moers. The 28-metre-high monument is in the shape of an oversize miner’s lamp, installed on the coal mine overburden. It’s considered the world’s largest mining work of art and commemorates the miners and steelworkers along the Rhine and Ruhr rivers. In the evening, the Miner’s Lamp is bathed in fiery red light. Even the tower is accessible – like the whole slag heap, from which you have a fantastic view of the Lower Rhine.

This ladder seems endless: via a ‘stairway to heaven’ with 359 steps, you reach the more than 100-metre-high massif of the ‘Halde Norddeutschland’, a former slag heap from the Niederberg coal mine in Neukirchen-Vluyn. A skeleton-shaped steel frame at the top draws the eye. Called the ‘Hallenhaus’, it’s also illuminated in the evenings to create a very special atmosphere. The plateau of the slag heap can be explored via an extensive network of hiking trails. And this is a very good spot from which to observe hang gliders who have secured themselves a good launch site on the slag heap. A fascinating event just before the setting sun.

The ‘Millicher Halde’ can be found in the far south of the Lower Rhine, an overburden slag heap from the Sophia-Jacoba coal mine in Hückelhoven. A steep staircase with 400 steps leads to the observation tower, which opens the view to the Eifel mountain range and the Rur Plains from a height of 70 metres. There’s also an extensive network of hiking trails with lots of vantage points and one curiosity: a small vineyard.

What are you waiting for? Experience the vastness of the Lower Rhine from above, watch the perfect sunset and enjoy magical moments.

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