By Gracie Gilbert
In the morning, we took Ostrava public transport to Dolni Vitkovice. The Ostrava public transport system includes buses and tram lines.
Dolni Vitkovice is a former steel mill and coal mine site that now functions as a museum, educational, and cultural center. At Dolni Vitokovice, we learned about Vitkovice Ironworks, which, while in operation from 1828-1998, had a great reputation. They contributed iron pieces to large projects such as the Eiffel Tower. We learned that iron is produced from iron ore, coke, and limestone. In their time of production, Vitkovice Ironworks produced 90 million tons of steel. On the premises, there is a large tank that used to store gas for the production of steel but now functions as a multi-use arts center with a large performance hall and cafe. During World War II, a bomb entered the water tank, but got lodged in the sediment at the bottom and never exploded. After over two decades, when the tank was being excavated, crews found the bomb and determined that it was still live. If it had gone off when gas was in the tank, it would have destroyed a large portion of the city. At Dolni Vitkovice, the coal mine and steel mill are literally side by side, which reduced transport, making it more economically viable. Since Vitkovice is now being used as a museum, concert center, and meeting space, it is providing a second life for itself instead of simply being abandoned. This exemplifies sustainability and Ostrava’s attempts to reinvent itself.
After Dolni Vitkovice, we walked next door to a children’s science center, where we had lunch.
We then walked to Vitkovice Cylinders, a firm that has been producing seamless, high-pressure steel cylinders since 1906. Our lecturer was pleased to tell us that Vitkovice Machinery Group uses sustainable technologies in their production. They are also providing cylinders for various ‘green’ products, including LNG vehicles. We got a tour of the factory and were able to see every level of production of the cylinders. Most interesting was the transformation of a glowing cube of raw steel into a one-ended cylinder through the use of a massive extruder.
After a long day visiting both the former and still operating steel firms, we returned to our hotel, Zamek Zabreh, where we had another delicious meal. We taught Todd some games after dinner and ended a great day.