Vagonetto is a mining park in Fokis (Fokis Mining Park), on mountain Parnassos, near Arachova and Amfissa. It is the only thematic park of this kind in Greece and one of the very few in Europe (like the National Coal Mining Museum in UK, the Estonian Mining Museum, Hallstat in Saltzburg and Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland). In 1998 the company, that promoted the area's bauxite deposits begins a project to convert, after a 25-year period, an obsolete mining gallery into a tourist and educational destination, in order to honor the old miners of Fokis and promote the history of bauxite.
The history of the Park started in 1967, when a new gallery opened for the underground mining of bauxite and was named Tunnel 850, the number indicating, according to the mining practice, its elevation. After five years the operations in the Tunnel stopped because the bauxite deposit had been exhausted and the gallery was abandoned. In 1998 the works started to transform it into a thematic park and finally in 2003 the Park opened its doors to the public.
The visit to the Park starts underground. All visitors wear safety helmets and ride the small train, aka vagonetto, which was used by the miners to transfer bauxite. This is the most thrilling part of the visit as the small train transport you almost 200 metres inside the mountain to the starting of a walking itinerary through the history of bauxite. During the walking tour, always in groups and accompanied by a guide, you see representations with mannequins of the various methods and techniques used by the miners, through the course of time and according to the evolution of technology.
The atmosphere is eerie and at the same time amazing. You can see and feel the difficult circumstances in which the miners were working and the dangers they had to confront. There is no source of natural light and water is dripping from the roof. There are audio descriptions at various points of the tour and there is also a reenactment of a blast furnace, that was used by the miners as a way of excavation. At the end of the walking tour you ride again the vagonetto and return to the starting point at the main building.
From there you enter the exhibition area in the building, where with the use of an audio-guide digital system in six languages (Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian), you walk through various exhibits, which present the importance of bauxite in modern industry and the various applications it has in modern life (cement, aluminum etc). Also you are provided with information regarding the operation of the various departments of the mine.
At the last part of the visit you enter the new wing of the Park, consisting of three rooms (blue, red, green), where with the inauguration of interactive digital technology, you take a highly entertaining and educational journey in the history of bauxite mining and its importance in the life of the inhabitants of Fokis, who in their vast majority worked in these mines. There is also a small gift shop with objects and books related to mining (you could actually buy a small bauxite rock) and also a cafe.
This is a perfect and educational excursion suitable for all ages.
For those that only have a Sunday to explore the whole of Athens and want to get the Athenian local feeling, this tour is for you! In just a few hours you will not only have the opportunity to check out the sights of the capital, but you will also get to taste the full spectrum of the Greek cuisine!