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Frontpage News 2012 Preserving the oldest ironworks in Europe


Preserving the oldest ironworks in Europe

  • With support from the EEA Grants, the Nature and Technology Museum in Starachowice, Poland, will renovate the town’s historical ironworks, making it a living cultural centre for the local population and tourists.

    The history of utilising iron ore in Starachowice in south eastern Poland goes back to Roman times. The Starachowice foundry was established in 1841 and was in operation until 1968. It was closed due to toxic wastes and deposits found in the Kamienna River.

    A world industrial heritage area
    The furnace complex that can be seen in the town today was constructed in the 19th century. It has three blast charcoal furnaces from 1836-41, as well as a newer blast furnace constructed at the end of the 19th century. This new furnace includes a lift tower, air heaters and a steam engine.

    In 1993, the site was placed on the list of world industrial heritage areas, as the oldest ironworks in Europe. As part of the community`s desire to preserve the foundry, the Council of Starachowice transformed the buildings into a museum in 2000.

    Exhibitions and concerts
    The €1.98 million project entails renovation of all major buildings and installation of new heating, ventilation, water supply and sewage systems, as well as preparation of a track allowing visitors to walk through the whole area.

    The renovated buildings will include exhibitions related to the history of the foundry, and also premises for concerts, performances and a local art gallery. An elevator in the blast furnace from 1899 will allow visitors to have a good view of the installations and the industrial area. A new ticket office and a museum shop are also planned.

    250 million years old fossils
    In addition, the museum has a section with a vast collection of fossils from the region. The fossils are 245-265 million years old and include footprints and other traces of dinosaurs. This collection forms the basis for an exhibition of the history of the region, as well as temporary exhibitions on dinosaurs.

    The project is implemented in partnership with the Norwegian Mining Museum in Kongsberg. The renovation of the ironworks is planned to be finished and the museum reopened in the autumn of 2010.

    Photo credit: Royal Norwegian Embassy, Warsaw

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Regio Ferrea – The Project of Preservation an Old Foundry in Starachowice

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Conservation of European cultural heritage


    € 1.98 million



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual Project

    Project promoter:

    The Nature and Technology Museum in Starachowice

    Type of institution:


    Project duration:

    27 months

    Project cost:

    € 2,416,610

    Grant rate:


    Grant from:

    EEA Grants

    Grant agreement date:

    06 May 2008

    The purpose of this Project is to modernize the existing Nature and Technology Museum buildings in Starachowice, with the overall objective of developing industrial cultural tourism in Poland. Reference is made to the application dated 12 April 2007 and to any subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point.

    The completed project shall include following activities and results:

    - construction, installation and electrical works to the following sites:

    a) the Theissen filters building for educational purposes;

    b) the Steam Machine building for museum exhibits;

    c) the Water Tower for an exhibitions area;

    d) the Boiler House for paleontological exhibits;

    e) the Engine Room for workrooms and exhibit areas;

    f) the Hoist Tower for exhibits; and

    g) the Foundry Hall for permanent exhibits.

    - supervision of construction;

    - project management and publicity

    The Project Promoter is the Nature and Technology Museum of Jan Pazdur in Starachowice. The project shall be implemented in partnership with the Norsk Bergverksmuseum in Kongsberg.

    The Focal Point shall ensure that the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage provides at least 8.8 percent of the estimate eligible Project costs, and the County Council of Starachowice provides at least 6.2 percent of the estimated eligible Project costs.