Go back 100 years at exactly this location, and you would hardly be able to breathe and stand the noise. The Hattingen ironworks are an icon of the Ruhr region, one of the early centers of the Industrial Revolution. Starting in 1854, iron ore was extracted here and smelted with the help of local coal to produce high-grade steel of all sorts. When the local ores were depleted, the company in charge used imports from all around the world. In 1987, however, operations were so unprofitable that they came to a halt. Then, a post-industrial revolution began, a natural one.
Plants from China, South Africa and other countries that had been brought along with the ores started to take over the site and rare birds like Peregrine Falcons began to breed here. A hill, created with slag, became so overgrown that you can mistake it for something completely natural. And local eco-enthusiasts now use this momentum to create a “post-industrial wilderness” – with this “Wildwiese” (wild meadow) as one element. There’s even an exploratory route in the Ruhr region linking 19 sites of “industrial nature”. Don’t be surprised to see more rare plants and animals there than in places you consider to be proper “nature”.