Time travel in virtual reality

Like a time machine, Time Travel allows you to revisit Belval’s past to discover the lives of its inhabitants more than a century ago.

Every weekend, the little red and white shuttle, parked in front of the Rockhal, resumes service. If at first glance it looks quite banal, the vehicle hides its game well. The interior is equipped with all the necessary equipment to go back in time. But here, there is no need for a DeLorean modified by a mad scientist to go back in time, a simple helmet will do.

Proposed as part of Esch 2022, Time Travel Belval is a project realized by Time travel and Vizita.lu in partnership with the Ministry of Economy and the municipality of Esch-sur-Alzette. Combining virtual reality and GPS tracking, this 15-minute dive takes you back to the early 20th century.e century and discover the evolution of Belval. “The initial idea was born during a virtual reality tour in Pfaffenthal in Luxembourg,” says Thierry Kruchten. responsible for tourism, mobility and sustainable development for Esch 2022. “We liked it so much that we thought we would like to offer something similar for Belval. The idea was to tell the touching story of the place, with the source of Bel-Val, which many people do not know, until 1984 at the height of the steel industry with three blast furnaces.

The visit begins at the beginning of the 20th century at the Bel-Val spring, known at the time for the quality of its water. Photo: time travel image

Thanks to this technology, participants see the past through virtual reality headsets right where they are. This 3D reconstruction was produced with the support of the Luxembourg Center for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) using archival documents (old building plans, historical photographs, postcards, etc.).

“An innovative experience”

The ship begins its journey going up, for the moment in our time, on the avenue du Rock’n’Roll. Upon arrival at the Bel-Val High School parking lot, visitors are invited to put on their VR headsets to finally enter the corridors of time. Within minutes, the bus turns into a horse-drawn carriage, driven by Pier, and the concrete disappears in favor of a more bucolic setting, trees replacing buildings.

It is here that time travelers discover the source of Bel-Val, in Sanem, and the life of its inhabitants at the beginning of the last century. They even meet Joseph Steichen, the director of the spring water factory exported around the world. “It is an innovative experience. Historical content is conveyed in an entertaining and unconventional way. Without Time Travel, we would no longer be able to visit and discover the Bel-Val source…”, recalls Thierry Kruchten.

At the foot of the blast furnaces in 1984

A small jump in time of a few decades, the wagon gives way to a more modern car and the decor already looks more familiar. Visitors then rediscover the site as it was in the mid-1980s. At that time, the three blast furnaces were still standing and the factory was bustling with activity. Now it is Pier’s nephew, a construction worker, who is driving. With it is the industrial past of Belval which is shown in the time of the modernization of the blast furnaces but also of the steel crisis. If the place has evolved well in almost 40 years, some elements have survived the ravages of time, such as the management buildings, today near Rockhal, which now house various companies.

After a journey of approximately 1.7 kilometers, the ship returns to its departure point and passengers are transported back in time after experiencing, in a few minutes, a century of history. People are fascinated by the 360-degree view, to see the landscape or the Belval factory as they have never seen it before.», specifies Luc Reis, director of sightseing.lu. “This digital product is a big step forward in tourism, it gives everyone on the bus the chance to have the same sensations.But the journey does not end there. Each can further deepen their knowledge of Belval thanks to the two entrances included with the ticket to the exhibitions at Möllerei and Massenoire.

Belval Time Travel, every Saturday and Sunday at 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:00 and 16:00. Price: 22 euros per person (includes two entrances to the Möllerei and Massenoire exhibitions). Tickets available at www.sightseeing.lu and at the Visitor Center in Esch 2022.

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