Exploring The History Of Mining In Ostrava

Michal Mine History Of Mining In Ostrava
The Michal Mine in Ostrava

Over millions of years the remnants of plant specimens have compacted and accumulated to form a rock that changed the world and helped produce the industrial revolution – coal.

When coal was first discovered thousands of years ago it was recognised for its ability to create heat using a more concentrated amount of energy than wood.

As technologies improved coal mining drastically increased, and new inventions such as steam engines and mass heating modules grew in popularity.

On the flats of the Czech Republic, near the border of Poland, one town’s economic history boomed as a direct result of the coal found under its surface.

The city of Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic, and was first noted in history in 1229.

Straddling the Ostravice (Ostra River) and at the meeting point of two historic provinces, Ostrava grew from a small settlement into a blossoming metropolis.

Coal was first discovered in Ostrava in 1763, and mining in Ostrava began 19 years later in 1782.

Over the next two centuries Ostrava developed their ironworks and coking industries and people flocked from all around to make their money in the mines and factories.

Unfortunately the high concentration of coal mines in Ostrava eventually led to soaring levels of pollution, and many locals developed serious health conditions.

In 1994, five years after the Velvet Revolution, the last piece of coal was mined in Ostrava, and the city quickly set about to “clean up its reputation”.

Today the area is picturesque, clean and vibrant, and tourism has begun growing thanks to the huge number of things to do in Ostrava. But the city never forgot its history.

The rusted blast furnaces and twisted metal factories still scatter the terrain, with the most popular one being Dolni Vitkovice just on the edge of town.

In an effort to bring education and unique entertainment to the world, the city opened its doors to showcase the history of mining in Ostrava.

From exploring the underground tunnels in the Anselm Mine in Landek Park to stepping back in time to a virtual workplace at the Michal Mine, thousands of tourists relish in the chance to wander an environment that was always off-limits to all but the most diehard of workers.

The history of mining in Ostrava is as fascinating as it is unique, and it makes for a wonderful excursion when travelling the Czech Republic.

We spent six days in Ostrava to enjoy the epic music festival Colours of Ostrava, but also made time to wander through the past in three of the living mining museums.

Underground Landek Park History Of Mining In Ostrava
Wandering the underground shafts of the old Anselm coal mine in Landek Park. This fascinating tour takes you 6m underground in an original elevator cage, where you can then walk through the tunnels of a real coal mine. An intriguing insight into the conditions miners faced while working deep underground.
Tracks Michal Mine History Of Mining In Ostrava
The Michal Mine in Ostrava gives visitors a virtual tour of exactly how a coal mine would have looked when operational. The tracks that transported cargo, coal and people still wind their way all over the site.
Clothing Hooks History Of Mining In Ostrava
Miners used to hang their work clothing on these suspended hooks, and lower them with a chain and pulley system when it was time to start their shift.
Switchboard History Of Mining In Ostrava
The Michal Mine has been set up as though it is still operational. You can find paperwork, plans, switchboards and tools scattered all over the place.
Elevator Engine History Of Mining In Ostrava
One of the spools and engines that would raise and lower the elevators into the mine.
Coal Cutter History Of Mining In Ostrava
Underground at Landek Park you can see an original coal cutter demonstrating how it would carve out the tunnels.
Steam Engine History Of Mining In Ostrava
Our guide at the Michal Mine had worked in the facility for over 20 years. When the mine closed he took on work as a tour guide, showing tourists around his former site. Here he shows us an original steam engine that is still fully functional.
Medical Clinic History Of Mining In Ostrava
The mine site medical clinic.
Control Room History Of Mining In Ostrava
This is the control room for the engines that raise and lower the elevators. The operators had one of the most important jobs on the mine site, as it was their responsibility to look after the safety of the co-workers in the dangerous task of lowering and raising them into the shafts. A series of horns would be used to communicate with the control room.
Tools History Of Mining In Ostrava
Various tools spread out over a work bench.
Id Plate History Of Mining In Ostrava
Before workers could head underground they would first have to take their corresponding ID number with them. This way they could be tracked in case of an emergency, and supervisors would know exactly how many people are still at work. Many miners got in trouble by grabbing a beer or two after work and forgetting to return their ID plate.
Mining Cart History Of Mining In Ostrava
A mining cart, no longer used at the Michal Mine.
Typewriter History Of Mining In Ostrava
An aged typewriter in the living museum.
Tunnels History Of Mining In Ostrava
Underground tunnels at the Anselm Mine.
Dolni Vitkovice Colours Of Ostrava Review
The ironworks factories and blast furnaces of Dolni Vitkovice – today used as an interactive museum, and the venue for the epic Colours of Ostrava music festival.
Canteen History Of Mining In Ostrava
The canteen in the Michal Mine. Interestingly enough beer was allowed to be consumed by the workers.
Engine Room History Of Mining In Ostrava
The engine room in Landek Park.
Sewing Kit History Of Mining In Ostrava
The miners managed to tear their work clothes quite often in the harsh and dangerous conditions. Rather than always buying new outfits they would be repaired quickly onsite.
Dolni Vitkovice History Of Mining In Ostrava
Looking out over Dolni Vitkovice, in the heart of Ostrava.

Want to explore Ostrava more? Check out our article 18 things to do in Ostrava

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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8 thoughts on “Exploring The History Of Mining In Ostrava”

  1. Stunning photos and a very interesting look at the history of coal mining in Ostava. The pollution story connected to coal mining is the same in many countries, including the UK, where I live. Ostrava looks like a great place to visit.

    • Thank you so much. Ostrava is a definitely a great place to visit. 🙂

    • Yes indeed,,I’m original from there ,,,my family still there,,,I was there last summer to visit truly I recommended go there to visit,,,My country is very rich with history

      • It is such a beautiful place. The mines were so interesting and we learnt a lot. We always recommend people to get out of the city and explore more of the country.

  2. Wow! Great pictures!

    • Thank you so much Michelle. 🙂

      • Just read about your city. You did a good job on taking pictures and showing a place worthy to be visited.
        Thank you

        • Thank you so much for reading. We loved visiting Ostrava. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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