The Gabriela and Barbora coal mines are among the POHO region’s oldest surviving remnants of its mining history. They include historically valuable technical monuments (winding towers, a compressor hall, workshops) which are currently disused and are needlessly becoming derelict. The aim of the project is to integrate the sites of both mines to create a single culture and education park. The buildings can be converted to house major exhibitions about coal mining in the Karviná region, incorporating virtual reality technologies. The sites can also be used as a cultural venue, transforming them into a new cultural hub for the entire region. The two sites will be linked by an Experience Park with an educational trail and a range of visitor attractions focusing on coal mining and the lives of mining communities. The outdoor areas will be adapted to host various open-air events – concerts, festivals, a drive-in cinema and other activities that will become part of the cultural calendar. An exciting opportunity is the use of a railway siding at the Barbora mine to provide visitor access. It would be possible to build a passenger platform for the “Mining Express” visitor railway, which would link various locations regenerated as part of the POHO2030 programme.
The main building at the Barbora mine (including the winding tower) has already undergone reconstruction, but it is not yet ready for use as a cultural venue by large numbers of people. It will be necessary to create full indoor and outdoor facilities – WC, car parks, and outdoor surfaced areas. The building must also be adapted to meet fire safety regulations. The buildings at the Gabriela mine have not yet undergone any reconstruction. Here it will be necessary to carry out a complete renovation to meet modern standards, while also remaining sensitive to the historical value of the site. The Gabriela mine will also need complete new infrastructure enabling it to function as a cultural venue.
The conversion of former coal mines for educational and cultural use has become an established practice throughout Europe. Among the best-known examples of such projects are in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), where unique attractions such as Emscher Park or the Zollverein have been created. These projects have provided a major boost to tourism, with increasing visitor numbers helping to generate new opportunities for local businesses. The proposed POHO Culture and Education Park has huge potential to kick-start the local economy and create many new jobs. Viewed from a regional perspective, the new complex would become part of a wider network of technical monuments and industrial heritage sites such as Lower Vítkovice in Ostrava and similar projects in Poland (Silesian Voivodeship); the entire cross-border region thus has the potential to offer a unique range of visitor attractions of this type.
Our discussions are focused mainly on DIAMO – the state-owned company that manages a range of processes and activities connected with mine closures), which currently owns the building at the Barbora mine and will also be the owner of the Gabriela mine building. We have already informed the cities of Orlová and Karviná about our plans, and collaboration with Karviná in particular will be of key importance to the project. There have also been several meetings with representatives of the cultural sector to gauge the level of interest in using such a venue – and the response has been very positive.