Lower Area of Vitkovice
Not even 20 years ago Ostrava was called the ‘Republic’s Iron Heart’, referring to the production facilities of Dolní Vítkovice right in the center of the third-largest Czech city. The local concentration of industrial sectors is unique. The Hlubina colliery produced coal that was coked next door to fuel the blast furnaces of the neighbouring ironworks. Today a new city arose from the industrial wasteland. To get an overview of the huge area visitors should take a ride on the spectacular skip hoist right on top of Blast Furnace no. 1, also called ‘Bolt Tower’. The former engine room U6 with its large machinery still in place invites children to experience the technical evolution from the steam era until today as an interactive journey resembling the novels of science-fiction author Jules Verne. An even broader range of history is covered by the new Science and Technology Centre that makes visitors feel like passengers of a time machine floating through the ‘World of Science and Discoveries’, the ‘World of Civilization’ and the ‘World of Nature’. Not least the colliery changed dramatically, its restored buildings hosting conferences, workshops and cultural events, while the former gas holder was converted into an event location of multifunctional use, fully equipped with gallery and Café.
In 1828, the industrialization of Ostrava was initiated by archbishop Rudolph Johann of Habsburg who arranged for the construction of the site’s first puddling furnace in favor of producing rails for a newly built line from Vienna to Galicia. Iron production started in 1832 from blast furnaces fuelled with coke as early as 1836 which was unique to the Habsburg Empire at that time. A rolling mill for rails was completed in 1847, a Bessemer steel plant in 1866, and a tube mill in 1883. The plants were run by coal from Hlubina colliery since 1843.
Much of the site`s finance was provided by the Vienna based bank of Salomon Mayer Rothchild. Already at this early stage, the growing industrial estate was characterized by its distinctive production chain, consisting of a coal mine, a coking plant, and ironworks at a single site. During the following decades the range of products grew continuously, including boilers, steam engines, mining and rolling mill equipment, and construction parts for bridges. In the late 19th century, the Vítkovice Ironworks became the only supplier of armour plates for the Austrian-Hungarian Navy. Armaments and ammunition kept to be important products, as well as steel cylinders that were first manufactured in 1906 in a cutting-edge rolling mill. In 1938 the plant employed 18,860 people, a total that rose to 33,477 by 1944.
After 162 years of operation, the blast furnaces were blown out in 1998. Much of the disused plant, the Hlubina colliery, the coke ovens and blast furnaces along Mistecka Street and the steel plant and rolling mill on Ruska Street, including many 19th century buildings, have been declared a National Cultural Monument, and are in process of conservation. Newly erected buildings like the Science and Technology Centre complement the industrial heritage. Today Dolní Vítkovice is one of the most substantial projects of its kind in Europe, comparable with Volklingen or Duisburg-Meiderich.
|Recommended duration of visit:||12 Hours|
|Duration of a guided Tour:||100 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
Area is open to visitors for free. The various attractions are open:
Science and Technology Centrer (STC)
Monday - Thursday 10am-6pm
Friday - Sunday 10am-8pm
Monday - Sunday 10am-10pm
For other attractions see website
- Guided tours optional
- Tours in other languages
- Guided tours for children