East Eifel Volcano Park

Jörg Busch

Managing Director

East Eifel Volcano Park

Bahnhofstraße 9, 56068 Koblenz

www.vulkanpark.com www.vulkanschule.de

Plaidt, Germany
European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2010 - Education, Training and Awareness-Raising


Science and Tourism in the East Eifel Volcano Park:
Origin, Formation and Preservation of an Industrial Landscape




The region between Koblenz and Andernach on the Rhine as well as Mayen on the edge of the Eifel is characterised by Quaternary volcanism. In the course of volcano eruptions that occurred here valuable raw materials were deposited - above all basaltic lava, tuff stone and pumice. As early as 7,000 years ago, man began to make use of volcanic deposits. Later on, one of the largest excavation areas of the antique world and the Middle Ages developed in this area. Millstones of basaltic lava and tuff stone building materials were traded on a large scale far beyond Europe and over many centuries.

The stone mining that can still be seen today is a burden for the landscape of the eastern Eifel, but also creates opportunities for science and tourism. The enormous quarrying sections create deep geological windows, which allow for a detailed look at the genesis of the landscape. At the same time, in the last 150 years, Roman and medieval stone quarries and mines have been unearthed again, which otherwise would not have been discovered. Exposure by modern extraction offered at least short-term opportunities for safe investigations and in some cases also long-term opportunities for the region's tourism.

An important pre-condition for initiating the East Eifel Volcano Park, on an international perspective too, was the particular significance of the historical geological and technical monuments. In addition to this there was also the falling economic development in the stone industry dating back years, which meant there were fewer and fewer jobs for people in the region. The Volcano Park now has two objectives: scientific research on the one hand, and economic strengthening of the region through tourism on the other. With this, historical geological and cultural resources should not only serve for broadening historical knowledge, they should also be used as a source for arranging the landscape of today and that of the future. Thus, these resources can help to form the identity of the region's population. The genesis of the landscape as well as its use and modification by man since prehistoric times are a key focus of this project.

The Volcano Park covers an area of approx. 200 km2. There are currently 19 Volcano Park monuments, above all volcanoes and old mines that have been explored, protected and opened up to tourists. The decentralised structure of the Volcano Park means that Information Centres are needed, which serve as central points of contact. There are currently four Information Centres, one in Plaidt/Saffig, one in Mendig and one in Andernach, and a fifth centre is currently being built in Mayen. In addition, there is a number of regional museums that deal with themes relevant to the Volcano Park.

In order to realise the proposal, Vulkanpark GmbH, headquartered in Koblenz, was founded in 1996. Half of the company is owned by the Zweckverband Vulkanpark shareholder of the Mayen-Koblenz district. This represents the interests of the individual municipalities and towns in the Volcano Park. The Rouml;misch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum [Roman Germanic Central Museum], a research institute for archaeology headquartered in Mainz, is the other shareholder. This new type of constellation - an internationally operating research institute on the one hand and a regional authority on the other - allows both scientific interests and tourism to be accommodated and promoted to the same extent. In Germany, this constellation is unique.

The East Eifel Volcano Park was funded by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Mayen-Koblenz district as well as the municipalities in question. The total investment volume for the volcano park lies at approx. EUR 19 million. The financial means were basically provided based on the following:

o    65% of subsidies from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate
o    25% of subsidies from the Mayen-Koblenz district
o    10% of subsidies from local municipalities

The company also received and still receives a large level of support from individual private-sector-companies. To operate, develop and market the Volcano Park, Zweckverband Vulkanpark contributes financial means annually, while the Rouml;misch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum contributes scientific input and know-how, services, which would have to be purchased without this shareholder.

Nowadays, the Vulkanpark GmbH focuses on marketing and operating the park. Development projects take a less demanding role in day-to-day business. As a consequence, the park attracts more than 200,000 guests per year, which can be counted in the four Information Centres. Additionally, countless guests visit the 19 monuments in the landscape. Pessimistic estimates count another 100,000 guests per year here.

The East Eifel Volcano Park is a successful and outstanding project, enriching the touristic environment of an entire region. Offering numerous opportunities for scientific research, the project also created a win-win-situation for both shareholders involved. In it's 15 years of existence, the park hasn't slowed down. In fact it has become more and more dynamic, a rather good indicator for the future.