There are many captivating mining parks around the world. In Greece there’s the Vagonetto-Fokis Mining Park, just kilometers away from popular sites such as Delphi, Arachova, Itea, Gravia, Amfissa and Galaxidi. This fascinating park has nothing to envy from its global counterparts. Its organization is exceptional, as is its special effects as you tour the mine. And perhaps more important of all, every precaution has been taken to ensure a completely safe underground journey. “This mine is so safe,” said the park’s managing director, Leonidas Vamvakaris, “that it could withstand an atomic bomb.”
The tour of the mine begins with safety helmets and rain gear before you enter into one of the ‘minute trains’ or ‘vagonettos’ that take you down into the bowels of a 30-year-old bauxite mine. Once underground, the tour continues on foot. As you keep pace with your tour guide through the high-ceilinged tunnels of the mine, you discover the history of bauxite mining in Greece. And through special sound and visual effects you experience the typical day of the thousands of men that worked the mine and the ways they confronted each new piece of “modern” machinery that changed their working lives.
Expertly informed tour leaders take you to movie-like scenes that portray all the modernization changes that have taken place throughout the years. Each scene, completely separate from the next and within a tunnel of its own, is documented with realistic displays, complete with actual machinery and dummies dressed in work clothes of the period, play out the specific scenes. Tours are available in a number of foreign languages and special tour hours can be arranged for tour operators with groups.
On your return to the surface, the journey continues with a visit to the park’s Expo building where the mine’s administration was once housed. Here, through samples and some very professionally built scale models, you learn the history of mining in the general area and the various uses of bauxite – aluminum, cement, etc. Of particular interest, again with perfect scale models of the surrounding mountain and forest area, visitors learn of the tremendous amount of labor and expense undertaken by the mining company, S&B Industrial Minerals, to re-fill and re-forest all the areas once mined: A monumental task and one that has been done extremely well.
To quote the mine’s managing director, Leonidas Vamvakaris, “Vagonetto-Fokis Mining Park, one of Greece’s newest and unique attractions is an ideal outing for families, vacationers, school and university students. It’s not only about mining, it’s a great experience on local history come alive and a great excursion for just about anyone.”
A visit to Vagonetto lasts about an hour. The rest of the day can be spent visiting nearby popular sites such as Delphi, Arachova, Itea, Gravia, Amfissa and Galaxidi.