The Vítkovice mining area is located right at the heart of Ostrava. As soon as you enter this town of steel, a fantastic panorama opens up, one comparable to a Hollywood blockbuster’s space-age vision of towns of the future. The view of this labyrinth of iron towers, pipes and conduits creates bizarre forms and leaves a weird and wonderful impression on most. This town of steel will also fill you with a kind of bleak nostalgia.
The Vítkovice mining area is a national monument, a European cultural heritage site and a serious candidate for UNESCO-listed status. It’s the only place in Europe where the entire iron production process took place at one single site and where the facilities have been preserved.
Ostrava’s Hradčany of steel
If you’ve never set eyes on this significant piece of industrial heritage, then hotfoot it to Ostrava now. The Vítkovice area takes in the large industrial complex of the Vítkovice ironworks. This is made up of three sections, which together have been dubbed “Ostrava’s Hradčany” (after the part of Prague where Prague Castle is situated). In the northern section there is the Hlubina mine, which as a source of fuel for the blast furnaces is linked to the rest of the complex. The blast furnaces, the coking plant and its chemical plant are also linked to it by a conveyor belt, drive belts and bridges. The central section focuses on engineering and in the southern part a group of industrial and administrative buildings is well worth seeing.
1,500 degrees Celsius
The Ostrava plant uses imaginative methods to explain the iron production process. Beginning at the blast furnaces, a themed trail funnels you along the route that the raw ingredients used to take. A skip lift takes you up to the jaws of the furnace, which were once fed with iron ore, coke, lime and other “ingredients”. If you’re up to it, you can ascend to the very top of the tower from where there are impressive views of the whole of Ostrava. On the way back you’ll see the terrifying innards of the furnace where the temperature often went as high as 1,500 degrees Celsius.
Glorious past, promising future
The original idea to establish an ironworks in Vítkovice came from Rudolf Archbishop of Olomouc in 1828. Gradually six furnaces were brought into operation. The entire Vítkovice area is currently undergoing complete regeneration. During this process the giant former gasworks will be transformed into an innovative, multipurpose venue. In the near future the complex will also gain an industrial museum and an attraction called World of Technology, an imaginative place of education and entertainment for all the family