Ostrava - The former industrial areas in Ostrava, where coal mining stopped 20 years ago, on June 30, 1994, have been attracting more and more tourists and the Lower Vitkovice and Landek Park technical heritage is the most popular tourist destination outside Prague in the country.
Zájem návštěvníků o technické památky v Ostravě rok od roku stoupá, potvrzují statistiky i provozovatelé bývalých průmyslových areálů. Dvacet let od chvíle, kdy 30. června 1994 vyjel z podzemí poslední vozík uhlí vytěženého ve městě, míří do ostravských dolů opět tisíce lidí. Na snímku z 26. června jsou osobní identifikační známky horníků dolu Michal v Ostravě, který byl v roce 1995 vyhlášen národní technickou památkou. ČTK Sznapka Petr
According to the CzechTourism agency, over 676,000 people visited the former Vitkovice ironworks and the Landek Park mining museum in 2013.
Only four other historical sites, all in Prague, were more popular last year.
The Lower Vitkovice area opened to the public two years ago. It shows the history of iron making, people may visit an interactive technical museum and go up a blast furnace.
The adjacent Hlubina mine has been under reconstruction and art studios and workshops have been taking place there.
Petr Koudela, head of the Lower Vitkovice association, said the number of visitors this year is higher than that in the first half of 2013.
Altogether, the projects and reconstruction of the Lower Vitkovice area will cost roughly 2.5 billion crowns.
Koudela said the aim is to find new ways of using this technical heritage. "Rescue it, clean it, make it safe and equip it with an interesting programme for the whole day," he said.
Miloslav Rucki, from the visitor centre of the Michal coal mine on the outskirts of Ostrava, said only a few people a week visited the mine after it opened in 2000, while now families with children, foreigners as well as former and current miners are coming to see it.
Thirteen Czech mining areas that are considered cultural heritage are administered by the Diamo state-run company.
In 2002, Diamo took over the administration of 22 former mines in the region with nearly 50 heritage monuments and it handed most of them to other institutions - regions, towns or the National Heritage Institute.
"We have been trying to repair the heritage so that it is attractive and somebody can take it over," said Libor Jaluvka, from Diamo.
Coal was mined for 212 years in Ostrava. In 1990, before the reduction of the mining, about 20,000 miners worked in Ostrava. According to estimates, there is still over 100,000 tonnes of coal under the city.