Zabrze might not bring about associations with great sightseeing for most people, but in fact, it has at least one gem — the Guido coal mine —worth visiting on a afternoon when the weather is drab like it was most of the winter. In addition to the Wieliczka salt mine and Szyb Maciej in Zabrze, Guido is another point in my mine experiences here in Poland – something I could never experience where I’m from.
Guido was closed down in 1960 and reopened again in 2007 as a visitor mine with a modern, industrial-style lobby area. To add to the real Silesian mine experience, the tour speaks Polish with a Silesian accent (which even I can hear) and even uses some Silesian words (which I understand with my husband’s help). Equipped with your helmet and a tiny bit of panic in your heart, your group descends 320 meters underground (or 355 if that’s just not enough) on a pretty shaky elevator. You’re now in the deepest visitor mine in Europe. Surprisingly, the trip takes about 90 seconds. When you get off, you can feel it. It’s a little harder to breathe and I felt slightly dizzy, but I have asthma and I’m a little neurotic so take that with a grain of salt.
As the tour begins, you learn about the horses they used in the mine and how they got them down there — only a 4-hour ride suspended on ropes — no big deal, really. Those poor horses had to live down there. At least the miners, who worked from 6 am to 6 pm 6 days per week, got to go home at the end of the day. Sundays were always free so the miners could visit their family members, which gives us the Silesian Sunday dinner that remains even until today. Gotta appreciate that. Later, we got to ride a little train that they had there for the miners and saw how the combines worked. The tour ends in their cafe/pub inside the mine where you can buy beer made in Gliwice’s small brewery, Majer, eat smalec and pickles on bread, or drink coffee.
It was a lovely little tour lasting about 2 hours – definitely worth the trip if you feel so inclined. And that’s coming from me, a girl who is not at all interested in how things work, machines, and much less, getting dirty. About that, I have one tip: do not wear pretty shoes on this tour as it’s both dirty and wet down there. I knew this from my last trip into a mine, which completely ruined my shoes. And wear a jacket – it’s about 10 degrees down there.
Other than tours, Guido hosts some really cool events. They have concerts down in the mines and you can even practice for Runmaggedon at the 355 m level. That’s hardcore. As I even had some trouble walking up the small hills down there, I wish those people good luck with that!
For more information, check out their website: http://www.kopalniaguido.pl.