Our ancestors were great miners with the best techniques even in the 18th century. Opal made us famous especially amongst the great noble houses. To have coronation jewellery with opal was considered a luxury achievable only by the richest nobles. Opal was a firm favourite also because of his properties and influence. People believed it empowers the greatest virtues and attracts love. Only people with a good heart were able to wear it, because opal amplified ideas and emotions.
Slovak opal mines, also known as Mines of Dubnik, Dubnik Opal Mines, in the second half of the 19th century they were also called Červenik-Dubnik opal mines, Hungarian: A Vörösvágás – dubniki opálbányak, or Vörösvágás Dubniker Opálgruben. They are situated in the eastern part of Slovakia near Prešov, between villages Zlatá Baňa and Červenica. They are the oldest Opal mines in the world and the only opal mines in Europe. First written mention about the village Červenica specifically mentioning opal mines is dated 1409. The mines were known worldwide from the 16th century because of the precious opal mined there. It is possible that opal was mined here since the roman era. Slovak opal was a firm favourite of Napoleon’s family. Empress Joséphine wore the most famous piece called Fire of Troy. The largest opal found was called Harlequin, mined in 1775 and valued at 700 000 Dutch guilders. Today it is displayed in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna. Slovakian opal mines were the only mined deposit in the world until deposits in Mexico and Australia were discovered in the 19th century Mining operations were suspended indefinitely after the
creation of Czechoslovakia because of bad financial situation. . Operation was suspended according to edict 311/62/32844/Úsp./C/23 from 16.10.1923, document (Správa státních solivarů v Slolnohradě/Management of state salterns Slolnohrad) from 31.12.1923. The most important people in the history of the opal mines were: count Jozef Vécsey (chairman of the royal administration in Košice), Anton Schwarz, Johann Möhling made a map of the mines and the surrounding districts, Leopold Anton Ruprecht wrote a report about opal deposits near Červenica, Marek Szentiványi and delegate Peter Neumanny, who were the first renters, Jozef Rumpler renter, in 1830-1845 the mines were rented by Gabriel Fejérváry. The opal mines enjoyed a golden era working with the family of a jeweller from Vienna Samuela Johanna Nepomuka Goldschmidt, who lived in Dubnik. The history of opal mines until 1922 was documented by a distinguished Slovak Historian Štefan Butkovič in his book History of Slovak precious opal from Dubnik. The golden age of Opal Mines near Červenica is recalled by the reconstructed entrance into tunnel Jozef.
The old mines were closed in 1922. This marked the end of precious opal, slovakia’s national gemstone, until 2012 when mining commenced again. The mines are open for public since 2015. kedy bola zrušená aj ťažba drahého opálu- slovenského národného kameňa. The largest opal ever found was called Harlequin, mined in 1775 and valued at 700 000 Dutch guilders. Today it is displayed in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
Tunnels in the mine have a combined length of 24 km on 17 levels, 5 of which are flooded and open for professional diving.
Currently about 1.2km of tunnels is accessible for tourists. A visit of the premises takes about 45-60 minutes. Visitors can see samples of opals, different gemstones, mining equipment from 100 years ago.