Sometimes I don’t get it. Two mines, two different points of view. Two different guided tours. One is a World Heritage Site, the other is not. I liked the both mines, I visited them with few weeks apart and it seems as the Copper mine in Falun is satisfied with the fact that they have a World Heritage site and don’t need to do more than exist. The Silver mine in Sala makes the visit there much more special. And both had almost the same information, but the guide in Sala made it very more special and interesting. I expected more of Falun, I got more in Sala.
We went to Sala silver mine a rainy day at the end of September 2012. We drove all the way from Stockholm, nice and easy. We arrived a little bit before the pre-booked tour, so we had time for coffee and a visit to a very nice second-hand shop. The rain was pouring down, so the photos of the village are very few, quite dull, grey and wet. The village was very pretty. though with the Autumn colours and stillness of the great times , long passed.
When we went to Falun few weeks later there had already been some snow, the weather was quite chilly, but sunny and nice, so the experience had a chance to be nicer. You can read about visit there in Jany’s post here.
And then there was the tour. An enthusiastic young man met us and showed us a map of the mine, we were about to enter. Everyone got to hold a big piece of stone, that conyained some little percentage of silver. Stones just like that one were collected by the miners and sent up to the surface in a little wagons. Not an easy work.
He told us about the mine using colourfull and powerfull words. He mixed facts with stories. When he told us about how the only light was from fires and how hot it was in the mine at that time, we could almost feel the heat, even if it was near 5 C now. At the beginning of the tour he talked about superstitions among miners: when you entered the mine you had to knock three times on the wall, you were not allowed to spit nor swear. If you didn’t obey you would see the mine lady, a ghost of the mine, and you would not get out of there alive. He had us to obey these rules too.
The mine in our days is cold. Water was dripping everywhere and the wind was blowing from the shafts. We were happy to have rain gear, helmrts to protect our heads and warm clothes. Helmets were given to all the participants of the tour as protection. Sometimes the corridors are low, sometimes a rock can fall down and sometimes the ghosts of the mine can hit you in the head. The protection is a good thing.
We visited Victoria’s chamber. She is Swedish crown princess and there is her signature in the mine. In Falun, in the Copper mine, there is her father’s, the Swedish king’s signature. It’s misspelled, this one is not. You can rent the chamber for a private party, or a wedding, since there also is a chappel down there.
We also visited the honeymoon suite, a cozy room, with absolutely no view what so ever. There is no mobile net here and the only communication with the world outside is an alarm phone that guests can use in case of emergency. Hopefully there is someone on the other side of the line and he is not taking the night off.
In the copper mine in Falun our guide was just a guide. It was an older lady, maybe a teacher who have already given up on the kids. She told us facts and more or less only facts. She said that tgey believed that you have to knock on entering the mine, but not why. She said that they used fire as light, that’s it. The most interesting part was about a miner who died, fat Mats, and was found several years and was put on display at town square. And that they had a misspelled signature of the Swedish king and a christmas tree that lost it’s colour, but not pins. But she said it before all the group was together listening. Not good at all. Pretty boring.
In the both mines we got the same facts, but so differently presented. But Falu copper mine is a world heritage, maybe that’s enough? A mine that don’t think that’s enough is Wieliczka salt mine. The tour is both interesting and engaging and it is a world heritage too. I think Falu mine could do better.
Check also out Jany’s description of the Falun copper mine.