If you are interested in technology and the post-industrial climate, the inconspicuous town of Tarnowskie Góry is a place not to be missed on your tour. Running underneath the town, the underground labyrinth of former zinc, silver and lead mines forms an impressive system about 150 kilometers long with unique hydraulic solutions. Once, Silesian miners worked laboriously here; today the mine shafts and corridors are inhabited by bats.
Thanks to the titanic efforts of local history enthusiasts, in 2017 the entire complex in Tarnowskie Góry was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Find out why!
The oldest preserved parts of the Silver Mine in Tarnowskie Góry date back to the 17th century. With the help of a system of canals and shafts, ground water was drawn by gravity to the surface, feeding the surrounding rivers, but also reaching the Silesian waterworks, including Chorzów, 20 kilometers away.
The breakthrough for the region’s history came when a Boulton & Watt steam engine was brought here from Wales. The first in continental Europe, the machine began operation in the late 18th century, forever changing Upper Silesia. It then went missing, and the search for it continues to this day.
Today, the mine can be explored along a stretch of about 2 kilometers. On the surface stretches a historic park established in the early 20th century – one of the world’s first examples of post-industrial land revitalization.
But perhaps the most impressive thing you’ll see is a walk to the nearby, orange-colored Waste Heap.
Iridescent in color like the sands of the Sahara, the mountain made of mined dolomite is overgrown with rare plant species, and its summit offers sweeping views of the surrounding area. A keen eye will spot numerous hills in the meadows and woods – these are not natural hills, but former heaps seized back by nature!