Underground Mining Museum – Pernik, Bulgaria - Atlas Obscura

Pernik, Bulgaria

Underground Mining Museum

One of the largest mines in Bulgaria is now home to a vast museum more than 100 feet underground.  

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Pernik is a small city about 40 minutes by car from the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia.

One of  the main attractions for visitors to Pernik is the Starite Rudnitsi 1891 (The old mines 1891). When the coal beds were discovered, Pernik developed quickly, turning into the energy hub of the country. The mine operated until 1966, and in 1986 it was transformed into a massive underground museum dedicated to the history of mining in Pernik.

During its heyday, the mine was filled with parakeets to warn miners about gas leaks. Before the days of steam engines, horses were trained specifically to remove coal. They were not bothered by the dark and loud noises while hauling coal. When the mine ran dry, the city’s economic power also faltered.

Know Before You Go

You can park right in front of the mine, but tickets have to be purchased at the regional history museum of Pernik next door. Tours run every hour officially. Note, not all the tour guides speak English.  

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