Slovenské Opálové Bane


Useful Information

Location: Between Červenica and Zlatá Baňa, okres Prešov, Prešovský kraj (48.904276, 21.461079)
Open: Summer daily 9:30, 11, 12:30, 14, 15:30.
[2020]
Fee: 5 Persons EUR 50, 10 Persons EUR 90, 15 Persosns 130, 20 Persons EUR 150.
[2020]
Classification: ExplainOpal Mines
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=20km, T=1-6°C.
Guided tours: Short Tour: L=1.28km.
Long Tour: D=5-6h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: Short Tour: yes, Long Tour: no.
Bibliography:  
Address: Slovenské Opálové Bane, Opálové bane Libanka, s.r.o., Floriánova 3201/12, 080 01 Prešov. Tel: +421-51-7725-896. E-mail:
Mestské informačné centrum Prešov (Tourist Information Centre Prešov), Hlavná 67, 080 01 Prešov, Tel: +421-51-3100125, Tel: +421-51-3100126. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

14-MAY-1597 first written mention.
1845-1880 heyday of opal mining.
1922 opal mining ended.
21-AUG-1964 declared a Natural Monumen as a bat habitat.
2004 classified as a site of European importance for nature conservation.
2014 Slovakian 20 € silver coin minted with opal mine and bat.
2017 underground mine tours offered.

Geology


Description

The Slovenské Opálové Bane (Slovak opal mines) are located in the forest east of Prešov, between the villages Červenica and Zlatá Baňa. There was once a small miner village named Opálbánya in Hungarian, which became Dubník in Slovakian. The last mine was closed in 1922, several efforts to reopen it failed. The competition from Australia makes the mining unprofitable. The historic mine became an important hibernation site for bats and was even commemorated on a 20€ silver coin in 2014.

Acording to local lore opal mining started during Roman times, but there is no archaeological evidence. The first written mention of the mne was in 1597. The biggest opal was found in 1775 at the surface in the bed of the brook Oľšavka. It is 13cm long and it weighs 594g (2,970 carats), estimated current value half a million USD. It was named Harlequin for its beautiful iridescence and is today owned by the Natural History Museum in Vienna. But the heydays of the mine came later, between 1845 and 1880, when the mines were leased to the Goldschmidt family from Vienna. Solomon Goldschmidt was a famous jeweller, and introduced the opals successfully to the world markets. The opals were known as Magyar nemes opál, as the are belonged to Hungary at this time.

The most spectacular jewelry made of opals from Dubník id Isabella’s necklace. It was a wedding gift for Isabella Jagiellon when she married John Zápolya, the King of Hungary, in 1539. It is famous because the opals differ from other opals in their opalescence and colours. It is also the oldest piece of jewelry made with opals from Dubník. Today the necklace is a part of the collection of the National Museum in Budapest. It is depicted on the other side of the 20 € silver coin.

The opal deposit of Dubník is named Libanka after the Libanka hill, where it is located. It is actually a group of several small mining fields, with a total of 20km of tunnels in more than 15 levels. The lower levels are flooded with ground water, several parts have collapsed. The mines are home to probably one to three thousand bats which hibernate in the tunnels. Sixteen species have been identified. The most common bat is the lesser horseshoe bat, but more important, it is the prime hibernation site for Geoffroy’s bat in Slovakia.

A few years ago tours into the abandoned mines were started. The mines are advertised as the the only opal mines in Europe, as well as being the oldest and the biggest in the world. The tours are offered only on reservation and there is a short and a long tour. The short is suitable for everyone, but the long tour takes five hours and requires shurefootedness and no fear of narrow spaces and darkness. Helmets and lamps are provided, we recommend good walking shoes and warm clothes. Be aware that you might get dirty. For the long tour caving overall, helmet, headlamp, Wellingtons, and all other equipment are provided. But while the tours visit dark and dirty passages, it is not a cave and crawling and climbing is not required. There are also tours into the underwater parts, but participants must be cave divers.

The tours are offered by Opálové bane Libanka, s.r.o., from Prešov. The company has surveyed and scanned much of the mines to create a 3D model. The also created a website, which is unfortunately defunct after only three years, so we are not sure if the tours are still offered, The tours are still listed on Viatory. If you visit the mine please send an update by email.