Queen Louise Adit Complex

Michalina Bienkowska

Deputy Managers, Projects and Development Department, Coal Mining Museum in Zabrze

Magdalena Szczypkowska

Deputy Manager, Projects and Development Department, Coal Mining Museum in Zabrze

Queen Louise Adit Complex

ul. Wolnosci 408, 41-800 Zabrze, Poland


European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2019 – Conservation Grand Prix


Mining Heritage Re-Discovered: The Revitalization of The Queen Louise Adit Complex



The Queen Louise Adit Complex revitalization has been, and still is, a long-term process carried out by the joint efforts of the local and regional authorities and the Coal Mining Museum in Zabrze which owns and operates the integrity of the complex.
This vast post-mining site is located in the region of Silesia, in the southern part of Poland.

The main aim of the project was to preserve mining heritage by adapting and revitalizing for cultural, educational and tourism purposes historical sites of the Queen Louise Mine and the Main Key Hereditary Adit in the city of Zabrze. The latter part was almost completely forgotten and erased form the maps for 50 years. The project comprises both ground infrastructure in 3 different locations with ca. 30 buildings from the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and more than 5 km of underground corridors connecting them. It included not only conservation and adaptation to new functions of this vast post-mining infrastructure, but also construction of two theme parks on former brownfields (educational Park 12C and Military Technology Park).

As a result of the works a unique industrial heritage complex has been created, with underground tourist routes showing mining industry from every possible angle. The adit has been emptied out of silt and its original brick walls restored or meticulously reconstructed. In parallel with the underground, work continued on the surface of the Queen Louise mine (renovation of the Carnall shaft top with the historic equipment, the 100-year-old steam hoisting machine building, chain bath building, and other buildings that make up a complete picture of the ground part of the mine from the turn of the 19th and 20th century). The area around the adit’s outlet in the center of Zabrze has also been completely rebuilt with a pool basin, port and tourist service building.

It has been restored gradually (in the course of almost 15 years) thanks to different EU and national programs, which has been the main source of funding. Total costs of the works regarding the Queen Louise Adit Complex heritage amounts up to approx. 39 600 000 Euro. The site is still ongoing revitalisation works and additional 15 000 000€ Euro have been granted to focus on the rest of the buildings in the complex that remain to be revitalized and conservation of the unique steam engine machine.

Monuments in the complex have supra-regional values, they are unique in a national and European perspective. In an exceptional way, through preserved authentic buildings and mining excavations, they present the development of mining techniques and mining history in Upper Silesia.

The Queen Louise mine was the first Prussian state coal mine in Upper Silesia (1791). Thanks to its activity, Zabrze transformed from a small settlement into a big city. The Queen Louise Mine has a unique significance in the history of industrial development in Silesia, thanks to which the region has evolved from agricultural to industrial. In addition, an extremely significant for the importance of the mine for the state economy was to give it the name of Queen Louise in honor of the queen of Prussia, wife of Frederic William III, one of the most famous and respected European women of the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Main Key Hereditary Adit, due to the scale of the enterprise, is a unique example of mining and hydrotechnical technology on a global scale. It is one of the most important and the most original mining facility in Silesia.


None of the coal mining heritage sites in Europe has such long and deep original workings, shafts, tunnels, chambers, preserved and made available for sightseeing.

The Queen Louise Adit Complex is a set of heritage buildings and workings revitalized with the aim of giving them cultural, educational and tourism function as well as making them heritage preservation site. Currently, old workings form a complex of underground routes, unique in Europe, presenting the development of mining technology and the history of Upper Silesian mining industry, accompanied by exhibitions and attractions on the surface. In genuine spaces one can feel the spirit of over two hundred years of history and experience an unforgettable adventure.

The functions nowadays differ from the functions of the site in the past (industry), still they enhance the historical value of the site and its social dimension by creating new, friendly spaces for leisure and free-time activities.

The complex offers three different underground guided visits: family route, classic route and a unique water route allowing to travel 1 km by boat. They are apt for children as young as 3 years old and help to discover a lot of facts about the industrial history of the region. Different types of educational activities are also performed underground. Thanks to perfectly exposed elements of geological structure, the undergrounds of the complex naturally form a great space for sightseeing including elements of geology or geography.
In the Carnal shaft zone there are 3 permanent exhibitions and unique attractions enhancing the heritage: shows of working steam machine and possibility to go up the Carnall hoisting tower. Spectacular cultural events are also organized among the monumental building of the Queen Louise Adit complex, including classical music festival.

The young visitors and families are most frequently attracted to the outdoor facilities of Park 12C located near the entrance to the Queen Louise mine undergrounds.


The site has received awards on international and national level, among which the most prestigious one in the category of European heritage: European Heritage Award/Europa Nostra Award 2019 with Grand Prix in the Conservation category.

The history of the Queen Louise Adit complex reflects the history of Silesian region, that has been a borderland for centuries, changing the states, from Prussia that started the industrial revolution on these lands to modern day Poland.

The face of modern industrial Silesia developed from the end of the eighteenth century thanks to the industrial revolution, associated primarily with the discovery of hard coal. Recent years have, however, brought about a change in the nature of the region, a transition from an economy based on heavy industry to the area of services and smart specializations.

The task that the Coal Mining Museum in Zabrze set for itself required enormous amounts of time and effort. It's more than ten years of hard work for all believers that post-industrial sites can be pearls on the tourist and cultural map of Poland. It is also a synergy effect of work and ideas supported by EU grants. Built on the basis of terrestrial and underground infrastructure of former mines, the story of industry - in the social, technical and environmental context - does not however limits to Zabrze or even Silesia. It points to universal stories and development as well as the collapse of traditional industries, which has become a part of many European regions. It has the same universal value in every industrial European region, telling the history of civilization based on the regional history of Upper Silesia.


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