In order to enjoy most of the flooded parts of the mine, you have to walk the corridors and staircases to places where there is suitable access to water. Five flooded levels with an estimated length of 5 kilometres offer an incredible experience when diving in completely crystal clear water. Above all, every wall, space, structure and opening gives you a feel of the history that is surrounding you. The corridors are not of the typical regular dimensions that are known to us from most mines. The layout of the mine’s corridors resembles one large Emmental cheese and it makes you wonder whether they dug them out at random. The floor and ceiling often have small or large holes through which you can see other corridors and areas at higher or lower levels. In the corridors, the traces of human mining work are clear; you can see the old ladders, equipment, tracks, and constructions – simply everything that remained after the miners who worked there, left. At times you find yourself thinking that they must have left only recently, just before water flooded it entirely. The amount of staircases connecting different levels is very curious, seemingly connecting random corridors together. Every piece, every part of equipment is at least 100 years old or considerably more. But what is absolutely fascinating are the mine walls. If you use strong enough lighting you can see how the walls are casting a spectrum of colours. And if you are lucky and you look hard enough, you can catch a glimpse of the glistening opals embedded within the walls. The colour scheme of the walls is determined by the process of mineralization. Gravity allows ceiling stalactites to form, reaching several tens of centimetres in length. In some parts veils of stalactites are formed, which we call stalactite corridors. It is as if you are diving in a country of iron and stalactites enhance the scenery of this ingrown and omnipresent metal. However, only a little is enough and you will find yourself in the pale corridors which are covered with fine sediment. Light is reflected from the walls with entirely different characteristics, and when you shine your lights at the ceiling, it will reflect from it and create a glistening sheet on the floors surface. You then feel as though someone is behind you and you can see their reflection. The water is extremely cold, between 3-4 degrees Celsius and is strongly mineralized. Therefore it has a low pH and on your face you can feel that it is mildly acidic. This further heightens the cold feeling. But it is this cold temperature of the water that gives you the intense feeling of conservation of the environment, which is what allowed it to be preserved to its current form. Of unique design is the main vertical mining shaft called Fedö which can be seen across two flooded floors. The iron rails have a very impressive look, as if covered in a sheet of white cheese mould. In some places they connect and then disconnect again in several directions. Any moment now you expect miners to come out pushing a mine cart ahead of them. It feels especially mystical when for some reason a white mist begins to float in one half of the corridors, a reminiscent of morning haze. Either you hover over it, or swim under it. You get the impression that there are clouds overhead and you are in a mysterious world where the space before you emerges accidentally. This unique world is difficult to describe, but those who experienced it, never forget it. It is a very rare kind of experience. You are underground and in some way it reminds you of a cave, but the fact that all spaces are created by human hands, will always evoke memories of those who used to walk these corridor a long, very long time ago. But nevertheless you float, give your imagination a free rein and try to forever capture those breath-taking moments of history.

Peter Kubicka