Swedish Heritage Sunday: Falun Mining Area

2017-11-01T22:18:21+00:002 February 2014|Road trips, Sweden, UNESCO World Heritage|

Falun mining area… sounds a bit gloomy, doesn’t it? Imagine working 67 metres underground all day, crawling through dark, narrow passageways, soot in the face, and simple living conditions, to say the least.

Yes, there is indeed that. Or rather, was. Falun copper mine closed the mine shafts in 1992, after being in operation for a millennium. A millennium! In the 1600s, this was one of the world’s most important mines, producing two-thirds of all copper in Europe.

Falun mining
The Great Pit at Falun

Today, the mine and the 17th century planned town of Falun surrounding it – complete with miners’ cottages, canals and little lakes – form part of one of Sweden’s 15 heritage sites.

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While the mine is interesting enough in itself, my favourite part was strolling around the area where the miners lived, streets lined with picturesque cottages, now converted into modern homes, but all still painted in that distinct, bright Falu Red.
Arbetarbostäderna, Falun

The 10 sq. metre Bultkaleriks stuga in the photo below is the smallest cottage in Falun and was home to Bultkalerik, his wife and 5 children.

Bultkaleriks stuga, Elsborg, Falun

Linnaeus on Falun mining

The life of a miner was hard, not least because of fires burning constantly. Father of modern taxonomy (and ecology), world famous scientist Carl Linnaeus visited Falun in the early 1700s and provided the following description:

The Falun mine is one of the great wonders of Sweden but as horrible as hell itself… Soot and darkness surrounded them on all sides. Stones, gravel, corrosive vitriol, drips, smoke, fumes, heat, dust, were everywhere.

Can’t blame the chaps for hitting up the pubs after work, I suppose. Drunkenness was very common.

On the other hand, the ownership structure at Falun was quite advanced for its day, with free miners owning shares. At Gamla Staberg, about 10 km out in the country, free miners settled and showed off their wealth. The Barock Garden is well worth a visit.

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Swedish Heritage Sunday, our weekly winter series showcasing world heritage in our neighbour country, is still going strong. This is part 5.

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The Mining Area of the Great Copper Mountain in Falun is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites we have visited around the world.

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13 Comments

  1. Mary {The World Is A Book} 3 February 2014 at 0711 - Reply

    This is such a charming town and sort of like a living museum to the miners. Love all the Falu red. The Barock Garden is just beautiful and good for them for showing off the fruits of their labor.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 February 2014 at 0741 - Reply

      It is like a living museum. These are my favourite kind of heritage sites, where there’s an entire neighbourhood or even town to dig into.

  2. Muza-chan 3 February 2014 at 0719 - Reply

    Amazing…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 February 2014 at 0741 - Reply

      Isn’t it, though…

  3. Corinne 3 February 2014 at 1654 - Reply

    I’m not sure mining would be at the top of my list, but the red buildings sure are pretty. It looks like it was a gorgeous day!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2014 at 1330 - Reply

      I really enjoyed strolling around the neighbourhoods in Falun. And yes, a gorgeous summer day 🙂

  4. Vera Marie Badertscher 3 February 2014 at 1655 - Reply

    I love the red village but am curious about why that color became the fashion. Also wondering if miners actually made enough money for the new town houses or if that was owners and managers?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2014 at 1337 - Reply

      At Gamle Staberg it was homesteaders that belonged to members of the mining cooperative.

      As for the colour, the red paint came from the copper mines at Falun.

  5. Mette 3 February 2014 at 1903 - Reply

    I visited Sweden this weekend, and marveled (again) over the Falu red houses. Even though the colour is an old tradition, it is still very much alive. And the bright cottages in the Falun Mining Area must be a great attraction. How big is the village there?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2014 at 1338 - Reply

      Falun has a little under 40 000 inhabitants, so not that little… in Scandinavian terms, at least 🙂

  6. Mary @ Green Global Travel 4 February 2014 at 0439 - Reply

    I am in love with the red cottages. They bring so much color! It looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2014 at 1338 - Reply

      I really like the Falu red houses, too. So very Swedish.

  7. Hitch-Hikers Handbook 12 February 2014 at 2301 - Reply

    Lovely photos, Sophie!
    We invite you to participate in the next edition of our Travel Photography competition. Every week we publish 3 winning shots on our website and write a nice bio with a link to the photographers’ websites/FB/Flickr pages.
    Find more details here: http://hitchhikershandbook.com/your-contributions/travel-photography/
    Happy travels!

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