Tarnowskie Gory – Candidate for UNESCO List
The 41st session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee began on Sunday, 2nd July, in Krakow. Its members will decide whether the lead, silver, zinc mines together with their underground water management system in Tarnowskie Gory will be entered on the prestigious UNESCO list. The World Heritage Committee is composed of representatives from 21 states that include those from Poland, Angola, Croatia, Cuba, Philippines, Finland, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Portugal, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. 34 applications will be considered but the site in Tarnowskie Gory is the only one in Poland to be put forward and is also the only industrial facility in this year's list of nominees. The result of the vote should be announced by 9th July.
Over a number of centuries several thousand mines were excavated in the Tarnowskie Gory themselves as well as the surrounding areas. It is estimated that there are about 20 thousand mine shafts that are linked by more than 150 kilometres of underground passageways. This huge underground labyrinth of excavations, corridors, chambers and passages of former mining exploration has remained to this day. At this extraordinary site, where the engineering genius of the mining industry was born, a larger than 50 hectare mining area was dried out through a network of tunnels, an entire system of control and management of mining water. It is also the place where the industrial revolution began in this part of Europe.
The application to add the Tarnowskie Gory onto the UNESCO List has highlighted some 28 attributes which include numerous underground passages, tunnels and mine shafts but what especially distinguishes the Polish candidate is its unique system, on a global scale, of underground water management. It is difficult to compare this site to the other applicants as each one is considered according to its own merits but voting on Tarnowskie Gory will take place on Sunday, 9th July. “In order for the project to succeed, two thirds of the Committee members, namely 14 countries, must vote in favour”, explains Grzegorz Rudnicki from the Association of Supporters of Tarnogorskie Lands (SMZT). In its efforts for entry, the members of SMZT have cooperated with the Tarnowskie Gory Regional Government Office and the National Heritage Institute for many years.