The Mežica Show Mine

CAN DWARFS SWIM?

Hundreds of kilometres of mine tunnels have been dug in the southern Petzen since the 17th century. And I feel like one of the miners when the mine railway takes me into the tunnels 600 metres underground.

Deep into the abandoned mine where 19 million tonnes of lead and zinc ore were extracted from the mountain in the course of its eventful history. What’s more, special minerals could also be found here. In the 18th century, wulfenite, a yellow to red semi-opaque mineral was discovered here in the Karawanken Mountains.

The Mežica lead and zinc mine was one of the last of its kind in Europe and was still being worked in the late 20th century. It was not closed until 1994. The pumps that protected the tunnel system from rising groundwater were switched off and the lower tunnels were flooded, leaving behind impressive underground rivers and lakes.

How lucky I am that I can still explore this fascinating scenery today. I travel along the watery veins of the abandoned pit in a kayak. We can continue on foot. Or even on a mountain bike. A helmet with headlamp is of course obligatory.

At every stop here in the mine and also in the adjacent museum I remember those who laboured here in the depths of the mountain, here amidst - and together with the rock. For more than 350 years.

Geopark Karawanken/Karavanke – an amazing cross-border discovery

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