Blegny Mine has been on my radar for years. I have also passed by this site for years. I never quite made it inside though. The reason I’ve driven by so often is because it’s on the way to my grandparents in Germany. However, I will never be able to coax my mum, who usually drives with me, into any kind of underground facility. Let alone a mine.
That’s why I figured it would be nice to convince my friend who I was visiting Trier with to visit this site with me. Blegny Mine was on our way back to the Netherlands from Trier, because it’s located between Liège and Maastricht. It’s been on my radar for two reasons: firstly, because I like caves and underground facilities (as long as I don’t have to crawl through them) and secondly because it’s one of the four Walloon mining sites listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
I’m well aware that this post might be a bit disappointing. There’s not much to write about this site and it’s also pretty hard to take photos here. I’ve tried my best though, and this blog post is a result of the effort.
A Visit to Blegny Mine
Let me describe the experience a bit for you, before we dive into the photos.
A thing I love is that there’s plenty of free parking space at the mine. Several times a day there are Dutch/Flemish and French tours. You can sign up for a guided tour at the desk.
The tour starts at the place where the workers used to get ready; this is also where all visitors can put on their helmets and jackets which are handed out at the start. The temperature underground is about 15°C, so the jacket will be a welcome addition to your outfit.
The underground tour has been adapted to make the visit easy. First everyone is herded into one (or two) mining cages (eg rickety elevators). This part of the tour is slightly claustrophobic, but after a minute or two you’re inside the mine itself which is quite spacious. The first stop is 30 metres below ground level. After walking around a while, you will descend by stairs to 60 metres below ground level.
The guide, who used to be a mine worker himself, will tell you all about the fascinating lives of the miners and their tough working conditions. He will also joke around with dynamite and loud bangs, but he will do this with proper warning as he doesn’t want to scare off kids. Be prepared for some “miner” humour as well. You might find yourself rolling your eyes at times like we did.
Before the tour is finished, you will be taken from underground all the way to the top of a tower from which the coal was transported.
A Photo Diary
It’s an incredibly interesting place to visit. It’s nothing like the Cango Caves or the North Korean tunnel at the DMZ, which means it’s bright and spacious all the time, apart from when you’re all crammed together in the elevator.
The other three mining sites on UNESCO’s list are Grand Hornu, Bois-du-luc, Bois du Cazier. I won’t go out of my way to visit them, but if I’m in the neighbourhood I’ll certainly make my way underground again.