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Ostrava

 
photo:  (mojefoto.cz)
 

The inclusion of industrial structures in Ostrava to the UNESCO World Heritage List is planned for 2010.

 

Black Ostrava

“Ostrava Ostrava
A city among cities
My bitter luck
Ostrava Ostrava
A black star above my head”

These are the poetic words used by folk singer Jarek Nohavica when he glorifies Ostrava, his hometown, which gained the attribute “Black” during the communist era because of coal mining.
The city of Ostrava and the entire Moravia Silesia Region has a rich industrial history which reaches beyond the state border. The Moravia Silesia Region, referred to as a region of contrasts, has one common feature – the tradition of coal mining and metal working.
Black coal mines and iron and steel works are like two communicating vessels. They are more than a reminiscence of the living 50s. If we use the word “tradition”, we mean a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages metal extraction in the Jeseníky Mountains or raw iron working at the foot of the Beskydy Mountains. It is a regional particularity that can be best documented in four Ostrava locations: the Anselm mine, the Hlubina mine, the coking plant and the blast furnaces of the Vítkovice ironworks, the Michal mine and the Vrbice air shaft.
The Ostrava industrial complex was listed in the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001. It can be listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010 provided the Czech Republic, the Moravia Silesia Region and the City of Ostrava meet all requirements.
Unique Ostrava monuments have survived to the date, especially thanks to the Za starou Ostravu civic association which draws Ostrava’s public attention to architecture.
“We organize public discussion about protected areas and try to influence their future. Guided tours to precious locations bring architecture closer to local citizens who “cannot see the wood for the trees”. A series of DJs´ performances and concerts has been organized to support the conservation of a historical slaughterhouse,” describes Martin Strakoš, an architecture historian, the scope of the association’s work


The Natural Archeological-Industrial Location of Landek


The first of the locations proposed for the UNESCO World Heritage List comprises well-preserved premises of the oldest drift mine founded in 1782 in the Landek hillside. The present building structures of the Anselm Mine with typical fair-face work are influenced by the Viennese industrial Art Nouveau architecture. Most of the eleven buildings of the industrial complex under Landek dates back to the 19th century. The Landek hill hovering above the mine is an important archeological location of the Old Stone Age. Two findings are exceptional: the Landek Venus, a statuette of an unusually thin woman, and a finding that evidences the historically first use of black coal by humans for heating.
The location later turned into a Slavonic fortified settlement, a noble castle and also a place where the oldest Ostrava’s black coal mine, Anselm, was opened. The place is a unique combination of natural, archeological, geological and industrial features.
The precinct is open to the general public as a mining museum. Under the ground, visitors can see an original gallery with a mining equipment display


The Hlubina Mine, the Coking Plan and the Blast Furnaces of the Vítkovice ironworks

The Vítkovice Ironworks were founded in 1828. The first blast furnace was consecrated and lit in 1836. Owing to local natural conditions, black coal mining could start in
1857 in close proximity of the ironworks in the Hlubina Mine. Since then, coal mining, coking and raw iron working in blast furnaces had been a continuous process. In the 1870s, the development of a blast furnace plant started in today’s location. Connection inside the technological unit was provided by service bridges, loading device and conveyor belts. Gradual development and continuous production is evident in the entire complex
even after the 1998 shutdown. The area offers a unique constructional and technological set from different periods of history which perfectly documents the industrial revolution. Individual significant technological buildings including equipment have been one by one proclaimed cultural monuments since the early 1990s. Because of its uniqueness, the entire premises were proclaimed a national cultural monument in 2002.
What is the difference between a technical monument and a traditional cultural monument? In Vítkovice, the technological workflow has been maintained undisturbed as a whole and is very educative and impressive. Experts say that there is no other place like the Ostrava complex anywhere in Europe where all structures, facilities and equipment would be preserved ; most of them did not survive post-war remodeling and modernization. The silhouette of high structures of the complex forms a unique skyline not far from the center with three blast furnaces, shaft tower, cocking plant tower and three smokestacks as dominant features.


The Michal Mine

The mine was founded in 1843 by the state prospecting commission by digging two prospect shafts one of which later became the main working pit. In 1856, when state controlled mining showed a substantial loss, Severní dráha Ferdinandova, a company which built and operated a railway connection from Vienna through Ostrava to Polish salt mines, bought the facility. Further renovation followed between 1913 and 1915 when the Michal mine was completely rebuilt in order to merge mining from surrounding smaller mines. Instead of former steam engines, electricity was introduced. We can see stationary machines, most of them from Siemens -Schuckert. The machine room, built between 1912 and 1915, demonstrates the then idea of a modern model mine powered by electricity. First time ever in the history of the Ostrava area, all important ground machines were fully electrified and located in one large glassed-in hall. The architectonical and operational design of the Michal mine (according to plans by famous architect František Fiala, a follower of the Otto Wagner’s Vienna school) was supposed to emphasize the economic and technical position of Severní dráha Ferdinandova in the Ostrava-Karviná area.
Owing to limited construction adjustments, the Michal mine has remained without major changes since its major refurbishment in 1915 and it represents a unique operational,
technical and architectonic complex. After the shutdown, conservationists have been striving to keep the original look of the location and to create an impression that people who worked there have just left and put their tools down, including dirty walls, thumbed railing, worn stairs and peeling paint. Therefore, the exceptional historical value of the Michal mine also consists in the original authentic look of the complex, including technical equipment and quality workmanship details (door ironwork, paving, tiles, glass oilers with relief, product labels, etc.)
Today, most buildings of the Michal mine are open to the public as a museum and a venue for concerts, lectures, seminars and exhibitions.

The Vrbice Air Shaft

The digging of the Vrbice air shaft was started in 1911 by the Hubert Mine owner, Severní dráha Ferdinandova, to ensure venting of a highly gassy field.
A pit of 4.5 m in diameter was dug in close proximity of the main railway line connecting and
Krakow. As the place is highly visible, the mine complex was architectonically designed to represent the owner. The design using fair-face work comprises a shaft house with a low shaft tower. A shaft return with a unique asynchronous AEG engine is preserved. An electric piston compressor from Siemens – Schuckert from 1913 is kept in the former compression plant. In addition to its historical and technical values, the mining area is particularly impressive because of its architecture.
Olga Slámová

Source: Materials of the Nadace Landek Foundation and the National Institute for the Preservation of Historical Monuments.

 

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Added: 12.01.2010
 
 
 

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