The area of Delphi is known all over the world for its impressive archaeological site, the most famous oracle of the antiquity that worked continuously for many centuries, till it was closed by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius in the 4th century A.D. as an anti-Christian centre. Every year, thousands of people come from all over the world to visit Delphi and admire the ancient Greek treasures, but how many people take the time to discover the natural area around the site? Surely, you will find other type of treasures there: traditional mountainous villages, lush greenery, picturesque sceneries and an impressive thematic park, Vagonetto.
Vagonetto is the first and only mining park in Greece. In an area rich in bauxite reserves, the region of Mount Parnassus and Fokis, Vagonetto is actually a thematic park created around an old, inactive mine gallery, the Mine Gallery 850. Mrs Sofia Ganiatsou, representative of Vagonetto, talked to Greeka.com about the creation of this impressive thematic park that is located on the 51st km of the National Road from Lamia to Amfissa, about 20 min drive from Delphi.
What exactly is the Mine Gallery 850?
This is an old inactive mine gallery that took its name because it is found 850 meters above the sea level. That was how mine galleries would generally take their names, depending on how many meters above the sea level they were constructed. This mine gallery worked from 1967 till 1972. Then, for about 20 years, it was left inactive, like so many other mine galleries in the area. But, in 1998, the idea to turn this mine gallery into a thematic park was born. The reconstruction works took about 3 years until all safety measures were taken, and finally Vagonetto opened to public in September 2003.
What does Vagonetto mean?
Vagonetto is the typical small train that used to transfer the workers down to the mine gallery. This train is today used to transfer visitors there, down to the gallery 850.
What does a typical tour include?
The small train Vagonetto takes people down to the mining gallery 850, where a fantastic trip to the centre of the earth starts. Equipped as a miner, you go through the old gallery and see from close the depiction of a mining process, among the silver-grey chalky rocks of more than 150 million years.
After the mining gallery, the tour goes on in the Exhibition Room, in the main building of the park, where the administration offices used to be. In the Geological Room, there are findings from the extraction process, while in the Chemistry you can see and touch alumina, the first product of bauxite. In the room of Environmental Restoration, you learn how important tree planting is after the exploitation of the surface deposits.
After that, visitors go to the Digital Interactive Wing, which works since October 2009. There are three rooms with three colors and three different stories, in a totally futurist environment, where visitors can mix by hand the cosmic material, run with alumina grains along an industrial pipe or travel on the point of a gigantic drilling machine that is searching for bauxite. This is really a nice experience, particularly for kids, who are absolutely thrilled with that!
Vagonetto is open on all weekdays, weekends and public holidays, from 9 am till 5 pm