A former slate mine is opening to the public in the Moravia-Silesia region, and promises a hands-on experience. The Flaschar Slate Mine (Flascharův břidlicový důl), located in the Nový Svět area of the small town of Odry in the Nový Jičín district, has its grand opening July 11 at 11 am. Admission is free during the opening weekend. Details on opening hours and tour times are available on the mine’s website.
The mine will be open until November 1 and then reopen in the spring. It will be closed during the winter as bats and other animals take shelter there.
The Flaschar Slate Mine is part of the Moravia-Silesia region’s Technotras project to open up its former technical sites to the public.
“As people are already used to at Technotras, visiting this attraction is also experiential. Visitors try to cut the slate, touch the original tools, experience the absolute darkness underground, and subsequently the illumination with period lighting. The cold of the underground, with the sound of the constant dripping of water, awaits them and I believe that it will be an unforgettable experience,” Moravia-Silesia Deputy Governor Jan Krkoška (ANO) said, according to press reports.
A nature trail leads to the mine, which is in the wilderness with no water or electricity. The tour covers 300 meters inside the mine on two levels and takes about 90 minutes. People interested in visiting should be physically fit, as there is no parking at the mine so even getting there requires a 2.5-kilometer hike.
The mine dates to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and retains the vestiges of early 20th-century mining techniques. The key attraction in the Flaschar Slate Mine is a unique example of folded slate, created by tremendous pressure on mud that was rolled like dough and later solidified.
At a wooden-clad container shed near the mine visitors will have to put on hardhats with headlamps and protective coats before entering the underground. The container shed was designed to be reminiscent of the types of temporary structures that would have been near the mine when it was in operation.
Guided tours, available so far only in Czech, tell the history of the miners and also the founder as well as the second owner of the mine, lawyer Karel Flaschar, for whom it is named. There is also a romantic story behind the name of the Hydrangea Gallery, the lower of the two levels that are open to the public. The upper level, called the Johann Gallery, is older and has partly collapsed. The two levels are connected by an 18-meter ventilation shaft.
Visitors can refresh themselves with drinks chilled “on the eighth step” at the mine’s bottom and try to cut slate with special scissors.
It is only one of two slate mines open to visitors in the Czech Republic. The other is the Raab Gallery (Raabova štola), also in the Moravia-Silesia region. A third mine may open in the near future. There is also a slate museum in Budišov nad Budišovkou.
Plans to create a museum dedicated to iron smelting in Ostrava have also been announced.