Lichterfeld (Germany): If the Eiffel Tower of France is a monumental marvel, then the Reclining Eiffel Tower of Germany is an industrial one. Besides being tall, both are also symbols of the historic past of the two countries.

F60, better known as Reclining Eiffel Tower, is a conveyor bridge-turned open air museum. It was used in Germany in the early 1990s for open cast mining - mining coal at the surface rather than underground.

While the Eiffel Tower stands tall at 324 m (81 storeys), F60 is 502 m (125 storeys) of a reclining steel structure built at a whopping cost of 250 million euros.

Situated in the Lichterfeld area of Brandenburg State in East Germany, F60 has become an important tourist attraction with 60,000 to 70,000 people visiting annually to see the world's biggest mobile machine. The museum last year received 500,000 visitors.

The construction of F60 started in early 1989 when Germany was still divided into east and west Germany but it got commissioned in 1991 in unified Germany. After barely 15 months of working, F60 was shut down as most of the industry shifted from here to the southern parts following unification.

“At that time it was decided to blow up the steel monster but community people here came ahead to save it and decided to turn it into an open air museum. In 1998, F60 became the flagship project of International Construction Exhibition (ICE) which gave money to turn it into a museum,” Richter, a tour guide at F60 said.

The F60 was opened to the public in 2002 as a visitor mine where people can see the industrial marvel during the 1.4 km guided tour. Visitors can walk on the giant machine till the very end which is 75 feet above the ground and get a panoramic view of the surroundings.

During summer, light and sound shows are held here.

“At night, 28 structures in the bridge are illuminated by different coloured lights with a background sound of running of machines. It gives a fantastic experience to the visitors about the giant marvel,” he said. 

Several biking tours and music concerts are organised here to attract tourists.

“It was awesome to take an hour-and-a-half-long guided tour on the bridge. I think it is a good idea to open such places to the public so that they can see how technology progressed. I really enjoyed it,” said Touhid Rehman, a journalist from Bangladesh.

It is now managed by a group called Friends of F60, mainly community people, who are in the process of developing it as a 'Green Valley' with the construction of an artificial lake at the excavation site, planting of trees, water sports and tenting facilities for tourists, a deer park and many other things.

(Agencies)