Kupferroute Bank an der Gedenkstätte, © Birgit Engelen

Copper Trail

Today golden-yellow calamine pansies still bloom along the route to Stolberg

For a long time, metal extraction and processing were traditional trades in Stolberg near Aachen. The Copper Trail leads directly into the past.

The name “Kupferroute” (“Copper Trail”) is in fact misleading, since copper as we know it today was never processed in the Stolberg area. Instead, it was brass that was to make Stolberg famous. Contemporaries who lived during the heyday of the brass industry in the 17th and 18th centuries called the metal now known as brass simply “yellow copper” – transforming Stolberg into the “copper town of Stolberg” without further ado. Striking evidence of the town’s long history of metal processing can be seen on the Copper Trail today. Covering just under 16 kilometres, it takes hikers past brass foundries and smelters.

The route begins at the foot of the medieval castle in Stolberg’s historic old town. There, the “Rose” smelter represents the first relic from the heyday of brass production. A family of master craftsmen built the smelter facility around 1600; today it is used as an arts and crafts centre.

The mines were already in use in Roman times

The trail heads on along winding forest paths and through broad meadow landscapes, offering wonderful panoramic views back over the Stolberg old town and its castle. The route leads past several former ore mines, some of which were in use as early as Roman times.

The heavy metals in the region’s soil also gave it an entirely different look: golden yellow calamine pansies, a flower which can only be found in this area’s ore fields, bloom from May to August. Plant enthusiasts will also take a shine to an old stone quarry, which has been left open: nature has reclaimed the area and transformed it into a biotope with a wealth of species, including various orchids.

After 16 kilometres, the path arrives in Aachen, and those who want to continue their hike can simply switch to the Eifelsteig (Eifel trail). This trail is listed in the Top Trails of Germany and covers more than 300 kilometres from Aachen to Trier.

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© Birgit Engelen
© Birgit Engelen
© Birgit Engelen
Kupferroute Bank an der Gedenkstätte, © Birgit Engelen

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