© Pulsa Pictures_ORT SUD

A vast heritage

De Minett, as Luxembourgers refer to the Land of the Red Rocks in the south of Luxembourg, derives its name from the glowing red iron ore that dominates the natural landscape. The ferrous ore made a substantial contribution to the Grand Duchy’s economic development and rapid rise in prosperity during the mid-19th century.

Following the steel crisis in the 1970s, Luxembourg underwent a successful structural change and embarked upon a new economic course. Fortunately, however, numerous remnants from the bygone steel era remained intact and an area holding fascinating attractions for visitors developed.

These factories needed a large workforce consisting of day laborers and people who came from the center and north of the country. At one point in time (around 1880), a significant contingent of German workers accounted for most of the workforce. The rising labor demand then attracted Italian workers, who throughout history would strongly shape the southern region.

The rapid growth of the population inevitably led to a rapid expansion of the cities. The steelworks created numerous workers' settlements throughout the region, the first being in the immediate vicinity of the factories, such as Hiehl, Neudorf in Esch and the Italian quarter in Dudelange.

When steel turned green

The landscape of the region is characterized by:

  • blast furnaces, cowpers and chimneys
  • ways of procurement and interconnections, normal and narrow gauge railway lines,    cableways and blast furnace gas pipelines
  • dumps, slag depots and settling tanks

 

Especially after the Second World War, there were significant changes in the landscape, with the appearance of large ore mines throughout the south, which continued until 1981.

Between 1950 and 1970 steel production increased by 6% a year, reaching a record of 6.5 million tonnes in 1970. At its best, the steel industry employed 25% of the active population of Luxembourg.

 

In the field of urban planning and architecture, the decades of 1950 and 1960 shape Luxembourg's entry into the modern age, which is unfortunately often accompanied by the destruction of architectural heritage.

After the end of the glory years of the industry, a sharp decline left many of the sites derelict and abandoned. Many of them, like the site in Belval, have been the subject of new urban planning, opening the sites to new life.

All of these sites, previously "Forbidden City", give the region an image of modernity and innovation, they are important elements of the renewal of an industrial region.

Another important aspect of the Southern Region is the proximity to the border, especially to France, as well as the similar history that these regions and their populations have experienced in recent centuries.

© Pulsa Pictures_ORT SUD

The former open pit mining areas have nowadays become diverse nature reserves with a fresh air of life. They're home to a large diversity of different species unique to their location. You'll be able to traverse former open-pit mining areas, discover how the industrial past has shaped the region to this day and see with your own eyes how nature has long since reclaimed what was forcefully taken from her.

In October of 2020, the Minett region became a biosphere reserve recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).