Eight questions for...

Marie-Louise Frey, geologist and managing director of World Heritage Site Messel Pit

When I visit the World Heritage Site of Messel, what should I definitely not miss?

If you are fit enough, you should climb down to the lowest point of the pit or take part in an expedition into the drilling hole in the visitor's center. The lowest point of the Messel Pit is 65 meters below the surface rim.

What do you particularly like here?

How non-descript this location appears, even though it harbors one of the world's most unique treasures. It's like a diamond in the rough - its value is not instantly visible.

Do you have an insider tip?

Make use of the guided tour offers in late afternoon or evening. The Messel Pit has a very special atmosphere at these tranquil times of day.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

The further a visitor ventures into the Messel Pit, the more they become aware of the three-dimensional shape of this former open cast mine and the crater. This 47-million-year-old crater provides the basis of the oil shale and the huge number of fossils we find today.

Which time of the year is the most attractive here?

For me personally, the most emotionally-charged time at the Messel Pit is May and June, when spring awakens the surrounding nature and brings the pit to life.

What else should I see here?

The fossil museum in the town of Messel, about four kilometers away from the pit. Apart from the array of yet more fossil finds, the museum also documents the Messel community's battle against the earlier idea to turn what today is a World Heritage Site into a landfill.

Visiting World Heritage Sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

Potato dishes are a specialty of the region around Messel, like for instance the Messler Flapsch, a sort of layered potato fritter. If you're not fond of potatoes, you should try Kochkäse, a soft cheese that is served hot on farmer's bread.

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

The Wadden Sea in the summer and the Monastic Island of Reichenau in spring.

Marie-Luise Frey

is the managing director of the World Heritage Site Messel Pit.

She studied mining, geoscience and metallurgy in Aachen. She has been working for the fossil storage facility at Messel Pit since 2003. For years, she has worked to ensure that visitors to the World Heritage Site get greater access, despite the ongoing scientific research work.