Visit the Völklingen Ironworks

Völklingen Ironworks was the first industrial site added to the World Heritage List. It played a huge part in development of Germany in the 20th century.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Pipes, metal tracks, huge silos and mashings of metal are all around. It feels like I’m lost in an industrial jungle.

The light breaks through in places but, otherwise, the sun is eclipsed by the constructions in every direction. It looks haphazard but everything is there for a reason.

It’s a patchwork of metal in which the visitors seem so insignificant in size.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

This is the Völklingen Ironworks – an enormous testament to German industry and the growth of a new age of productivity and expansion across Europe.

It’s one a few incredible industrial sites in Germany that have been added to the World Heritage List, like the Zollverein Coal Mine and the Rammelsberg Mine.

The ironworks first started operation in 1883 and it was a critical part of the industrial landscape in Germany during the 20th century. At its peak, more than 17,000 people worked here.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

You can only imagine the noise that must have boomed from every direction, the heat as the machines were all in operation, and the crowds as thousands of people moved around the complex.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

At first, the site was used to make steel for things like railways tracks. This was the period in history of great growth, though – the industrial age – and it wasn’t long before steel girders for building construction were being produced here.

The by-products of making iron, like fertiliser and tar, also became important for the economic success of the company.

During war times, the steel made here was used for weapons and for helmets. And in the years after conflict, a need for metal to rebuild was crucial.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

The Völklingen Ironworks finally closed in 1986 it was protected as a national monument. In 1994 it was the first industrial site in any country to be listed as a World Heritage Site.

A lot of work has gone into making it a safe place to visit but still maintaining as much original authenticity as possible.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

The original industrial feel of the ironworks has been well preserved and it’s not hard to imagine how the site would have felt when it was at the height of its operation.

The metal maze seems intimidating at first, but everything has its place and is connected to each other in a logical way.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany
Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

Visiting Völklingen Ironworks

The Völklingen Ironworks site is large with a series of different sections to explore. From the sintering shed, through the burden shed and up to the coking plant, there are more than 6 kilometres of pathways that you can follow.

One of the things I like best about the site and its paths is the opportunity to take detours and discover different parts of the various sections.

Although some areas are off limits for safety reasons, there’s a large degree of flexibility in where you can explore independently. Climbing up to the top platform and looking out across the site is a must.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

The huge complex also hosts constantly changing art and history exhibitions in a few of its sections. Some of the exhibitions are included in the general admission, while larger special events are held in the enormous Blower Shed for an additional charge.

If you’re going to visit, have a look at what will be on display so you can plan your time accordingly.

One of the things I love about visiting the Völklingen Ironworks is that it’s not just a heritage site, it’s also a cultural space that uses the industrial architecture as a backdrop.

Volklingen Ironworks, Volklingen, Germany

If you want to plan ahead, you can buy your ticket in advance here.

There are regular tours of the site and only cost €3 for a standard ticket (children are free) but most of them are run in German.

A few other useful bits of visitor information:

  • Most of the site is easily accessible in all areas for strollers and wheelchairs via ramps and by lift. The exception is the 45m-high viewing platform.
  • A limited number of wheelchairs and rollators are available for hire at the ticket office.
  • In certain weather conditions like rain and snow there is a risk of slipping, so I recommend wearing good shoes.
  • Helmets are compulsory in some areas, but they’ll be provided.
  • There are no pets allowed anywhere on site.
  • There are charging stations for electric cars and electric bikes.

From my experience, I would say it probably takes at least two hours to walk through properly, but you can easily spend longer here if you’re going to see any of the special exhibitions.

Where are the Völklingen Ironworks?

The Völklingen Ironworks are along the river Saar and just walking distance from Gebläsehalle.
The official address is Rathausstraße 75-79, 66333, Völklingen, Germany. You can see it on Google Maps here.

How do you get to the Völklingen Ironworks?

To get to the Völklingen Ironworks, catch the train to Völklingen and then it’s just a 5-minute walk.
If you’re travelling by car, there are plenty of parking lots within walking distance near Völklingen Ironworks.

When are the Völklingen Ironworks open?

The Ironworks are open at the following times:
April – November 1: 10:00 – 19:00
November 2 – March: 10:00 – 18:00
The Ironworks are closed on December 24, 25, and 31

What is the Völklingen Ironworks entrance fee?

Entry to the Völklingen Ironworks costs €17 for a standard ticket and €15 for a concession.
You can book your ticket in advance here.
There’s free entry for children under 18 andstudents until the age of 27.
Also, every first Tuesday of the month, you can get in for free after 15:00.

Are there tours of Völklingen Ironworks?

There are regular public tours of Völklingen Ironworks run by the site that take about two hours and cost €3. However, most of the them are done in German.
It’s also possible to arrange in advance a tour in a foreign language, but that costs €120 for the group..
Booked guided tours are available in German, English, French, Italian, Greek, Russian, and sign language.

For more information, see the official website of the Völklingen Ironworks.

Once you’re done exploring Völklingen Ironworks, you can head out to the nearby Gebläsehalle.

Or cross over the nearby bridge and hang out at Bingöl Grill, which serves delicious Turkish cuisine, or at Saar Imbiss to have some snacks and cold German beer.

Time Travel Turtle was supported by DB Bahn, the German National Tourist Board and Youth Hostels in Germany but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

9 thoughts on “Visit the Völklingen Ironworks”

  1. Oh wow! Im used to seeing UNESCO ruins and that sort of thing, but this is the first I have heard of an old industrial site… I love wandering through industrial landscapes – makes for such interesting photography subjects as well.

    • I love the industrial sites I’ve visited all across the world. Often they’re not in use anymore so there’s a slightly eerie feeling to be amongst all the quiet machines. They make for some great photos too!

    • Oh wow – what a fantastic comment to get on the blog! I love hearing from people who have firsthand experience at the sites I visit. I bet it was a fascinating place to work. I wonder if you appreciated how special it was at the time?


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