About the spring of this year (2013), my brother and I talked about taking a trip to a cave. The only variant in the vicinity of Bratislava that is at least somewhat similar to this idea are several hundred-year-old tunnels and mines. But as usual, we talked about it for a long time, but we never got to it. Summer was over and weekend activities were slowly but surely fading with the cooling autumn weather. Finally, one beautiful November morning, we got on our bikes and set off in the direction of Modra to explore the old and forgotten mines and tunnels.
Mines and tunnels: Bartholomew’s Tunnel, Harmony
We were the first to plan the Bartholomew’s Tunnel near Modra – Harmony near Medvedá Skala, which I knew about as a child. About 2.5 km behind Harmony in the direction of Zochova Chata, we locked our bicycles near the road and set off along the blue tourist sign to Bear Rock. It took me a while to orient myself with her, as I had not been there for a good 10 years. What we can’t see was the tunnel behind Bear Rock. We refresh ourselves quickly, change clothes, put on our seats, helmet, headlamp, take a rope and a knife (against rhinos and whales that can hide there !!!) .
Mines and tunnels around Bratislava
In the vicinity of Medveda Skala there are more flooded tunnels and buried shafts that were used in the past for mining silver, iron, lead and antimony. But we were headed to the longest and best-preserved gold mine in western Slovakia – the Bartholomew’s Tunnel from the 17th century (except that gold was never found there) . It is about 400 meters long and is in very good condition. There are several side corridors, bats and a 4-5 meter “abyss” / hole behind which the tunnel continues a few tens of meters further.
The only access road to the tunnel is a few meters of crawling on the ground. But once you overcome this minor inconvenience, you can stand comfortably inside. This is followed by a walk through the dark corridors of the ancient tunnel, crawling on wet stones if you also want to cross some side corridors, wading through the ankles in the water and abseiling the “abyss”. We are satisfied and after 45min-60min we leave the Bartholomew tunnel dirty, but with a smile on his face. We are heading to Červená and Sivá mines around Červený Kameň Castle, Častá.
Dolná Mária – Sivá Baňa, Častá
At the Červený Kameň castle, we set off along a forest road next to Zverinec and climb the hill. After about 10 minutes and 50m from the road to the right we find the flooded Siva Bana. We look disappointed in front of us and take comfort in the fact that next time we may take a wetsuit and wade. The Gray Mine, also called Dolná Mária or the Klement Tunnel, was named after the color of its rock, and gold and silver were mined here during the reign of King Mikuláš Pálfi. Next to the entrance there is a dilapidated information board of the historic nature trail, which was quite a clear view.
Horná Mária – Červená Baňa, Častá
We continued higher along Zverinec until we came across a mouth line at the end of which, under a pile of leaves, the original entrance to the Red Mine (Horná Mária) is impassable. Behind it there are two shaft pings (large pits) which are connected by a corridor about 5 m. At the bottom of the larger pit is a small opening to the underground, which is now the only entrance to the Red Mine. As this hole is almost completely flooded, it is quite likely that it will disappear in the near future. Copper was mined mainly in this mine, where inflows of various rocks (azurite, limonite, malachite) can be seen on the walls .
The hitherto unexplored tunnel aroused respect in us for some unknown reason. As soon as we crawled through the hole into the black and black darkness and turned on the headlights, we found out that Červená Baňa had its name really deservedly. Walls, ceiling, muddy ground – all red with copper, which must once have been in abundance. It was only possible to walk upright in some places, in others we had to bend over, walk on our tights or even crawl. It was robust, functional, unmodified. In Červená Bani, in addition to the headlamp, the climbing helmet was my best friend. Gradually we go through the whole tunnel, we get really dirty, we see the rest of the wooden reinforcement, drip decoration and even the bones of a smaller animal.
On the way out of the tunnel, we meet a couple on a walk in the woods, who look at us in a “full field” (helmet, headlamp, seat, rope, completely dirty) as a revelation. We’ll mumble something and point it at the bikes. We still throw in smaller snacks and return to Bratislava.
I evaluate the expedition through the mines and tunnels around Bratislava positively. The very well-preserved Bartholomew’s Tunnel near Modra will provide the visitor with a pleasant walk through several centuries-old dark mining corridors. The Mária Mine with two tunnels, the Gray Mine and the Red Mine, is for those who don’t mind getting a little dirty for adventure.