The Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site was the first monument from the zenith of the industrial era to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The sensational announcement was made on 17 December 1994 in Phuket, Thailand: for the first time, a place associated with industry and work was to join the ranks of World Cultural Heritage Sites. Up to then, the list had been reserved for cathedrals, old towns and palaces.
Today, the Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site is not just the world’s only fully intact ironworks from the industrial era; it is also a unique location for international exhibitions, festivals and concerts. And it is a place where culture and nature meet: The Paradise, located in what was once the “hell” of the coking plant, is a fascinating garden where diverse flora and fauna have recaptured parts of the former industrial facility.
Dating to the peak of the industrial era, the history of Völklinger Hütte reflects the history of Germany and the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But the Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage Site is also firmly located in the twenty-first century. It occupies a key position in the Anthropocene age – the epoch in which human beings and technology have drastically changed their environment. As such, Völklinger Hütte is perfectly placed to explore through art and culture the positive and negative effects of these developments, and to reflect on both our present and future.