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German Copper Mine Turned into Museum

German Copper Mine Turned into Museum

Wednesday, 12 February, 2020 - 07:15
Visitors at the Röhrigschacht copper mine-turned museum in Germany.
Berlin, London - Asharq Al-Awsat

The lamps hanging on the walls project a dim light while an elevator-like cage glides down the mine's shaft. The cage can accommodate only ten visitors in each tour.


Over the past 20 years, Röhrigschacht - an ancient copper mine based in the Harz Mountains (southern Germany) that has been turned into a museum - has provided underground five-hour tours, the German news agency reported.


At 283 meters underground, tour guide Thomas Wäsche said: "We will use a boat on this trip." Each visitor had to wear a lamp helmet and water repellent pants.


The work of miners was completely different 130 years ago. They used to load copper pieces on flat carriages tied to the legs of 14-year-old beginners, who pulled them through the mine's openings.


"Those young boys had to drag these heavy carriages to loading points 10 to15 times a day," said Wäsche. At the time, the workers' torches were the only lightning source in the mine.


During the tour, the helmets kept hitting the ceiling and the water ran abundantly. The arid walls are covered with unique colors ranging from strong brown tones to white, green, turquoise, blue and black.


Since the mine was abandoned in 1885, the running water has broken down the limestone rocks.


The group now stands in front of an inclined pathway known as "Bremsberg".


"The carriages loaded with copper took this pathway down to the main entrance, while their weight pulled the empty carriages up to the facing route. This was a vehicle-free transport mean," explained Wäsche.


In the next round, the visitors stood in the water, and fortunately, the water repellent pants were useful. Then, the group took four boats that ran along the narrow waterway with the help of pedals and a light stream.


After over 350 meters, as the water pathway narrowed down, the group left the boats to the water.


"If someone believes he can't make it, he can wait here until we return," said the guide.


However, no one wanted to wait. In this part, Wäsche provided the visitors with knee pads. The path was only 60 centimeters high, and everybody had to crawl towards the opening while their backs touched the ceiling. Finally, with the end of the crawling journey, the visitors sat in an empty space for some rest.


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