Falu Gruva is a World Heritage Site. It’s also called “Mining Area of the Great Copper Mine in Falun” and it is a must to visit while being in Dalarna. There is so much to explore here that we recommend you to spend the whole day. We can promise you that you’ll learn a lot of new stuff here. And did you know that this is where tourism started?
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Falu Gruva – A World Heritage Site
The fact is that it’s not only the mine itself that is part of the World Heritage site. It also includes “Kopparbergslagen” and Falun town. However, the main attraction is the old mine and it’s rich history. The copper mine became a World Heritage site in 2001 and is one of Swedens most visited mines. And even if it has an old and rich history, there is another thing that caught my interest…
The Falu copper mine has a really long history as a tourist attraction. The oldest known use of the word “tourist” in the Swedish language is by a watercolor sketch that is painted at “Stora Kopparberget” in 1824. A museum opened on the site in 1922 and in 1970 they also started allowing tourists to visit the mine. There’s a lot of information that we don’t know anything about since no one knows the exact dates when they started the mining. But what we know, it was first discovered in the year 1000.
The most important industrial enterprise in Sweden
The story that is known is that the mine was discovered by accident. The goat “Kåre” came home with parts being colored red. The farmer got his interest peaked and wondered where the red color came from. The next day, he followed the goat and found the copper mine. Whether the story is true or not – you’ll have to do decide for yourself. After the mine was discovered, it became one of the most important sources of income for Sweden.
The best of times was during the 1600- and 1700s 70 percent of all the copper production in Europe came from the mine. About 25 percent of the countries gross domestic product was from mining here. That’s probably a reason why royalty has been visiting the mine for centuries. They even have their own wall where they left their signatures.
A tour of the Mine – Getting 67 meters below ground
The mining at Falu Gruva stopped in 1992 and today you are allowed to take a guided tour of the mine. You get down to 67 meters below the ground. The mine is about 600 meters deep and everything that’s below 200 meters is underwater. The tour takes an hour and you get to see and learn a lot about what it was like to be working here. Because during the golden years, there was no electricity in the mine. Today there is but long ago they used torches.
During the tour, the guide will turn off the lights and you will spend a couple of seconds in complete darkness. Learn about how horses helped to pull people out of the mine while they held on for dear life in a barrel. The way up took about nine minutes. That’s a long way to be struggling to stay alive. There are a lot of interesting stories that will make you want to know even more.
The story of Fat Mats
In 1719 the workers were clearing a shaft when they stumbled upon a body. The body was of a young miner and it looked like he had been killed in an accident recently and no one knew who he was. When they took the body out of the cave, there was an old woman that recognized the body. It turned out that it was Fat Mats, her boyfriend that had disappeared 42 years earlier.
Due to the coldness (it’s about 5 degrees celsius in the cave) and all the minerals, Mats body was really well preserved. It’s a good thing that his fiance was still alive and able to recognize him so that they finally got closure. She ended up knowing that he didn’t disappear but ended up dying in Falu Gruva. A sad story but interesting with the fact that Mats was so well preserved.
The stories surrounding Falu Gruva
Our guide for the day is Andreas. Before we enter, we get the information that we are not allowed to whistle, swear or curse inside the mine. It turns out that there’s a real big superstition surrounding Falu Gruva. The creature that ruled the mine was called the “Cave wife” and you needed to obey her rules (and still have to do it to this day). Another rule is that you need to knock on the door before you enter. This to show the “Cave wife” respect when entering.
One funny thing is that I never listen and by that, I really mean NEVER! And when we were inside the mine, I wanted to get the attention of Mini. So what did I do? I whistled! And what’s even funnier is that we have heard the same story from other people. That for some reason they start to whistle when inside the mine. We were lucky and never felt the wrath of the wife.
Our tour of the Falu Gruva
We had Andreas as our guide and he was great. It’s always important to have a good guide because otherwise the experience gets lost. Andreas gave us a lot of interesting stories and we had a great time with him. When we started the tour (they have several tours per day) there were families with children. After entering the mine, one of the children got scared and the family ended up aborting the tour – getting escorted out.
With that said, we think that this doesn’t happen that often. This is an attraction for the whole family and even if it might get a bit scary for the smallest of children, we believe that most of them love to get down in the mine. We ended up having an amazing time inside Falu Gruva and we recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone that is visiting Falun.
The Museum at Falu Gruva
Inside the museum, there’s fun for the whole family. We ended up playing games, goofing around, and pairing pee with the right disease. Yes, you read it right. We tried to figure out what kind of pee belongs to what illness. The museum is so well made and interesting. In fact, it’s Sweden’s oldest museum of technology. We ended up spending several hours here because there was so much to explore.
Travel back in time and learn more about the history of Falu Gruva and how life used to be in the mine. Watch movies and walk through interactive exhibitions. We visited the museum after we had been down in the mine. However, you can visit the museum first and then continue to explore the area. Because even if the mine is the main highlight – there’s much more to see and to do here.
You might also like to visit Dalarnas museum in the city center of Falun.
The Mine Walk
There’s a really nice walk that is about two kilometers long and that takes you around the whole area. Here you’ll pass different houses that you will learn more about. While walking, make sure to read the different signs and information that are scattered around the walk. They are very informative and you learn a lot by stopping and reading them.
My favorite part was the sign that says that people on the higher floor of the hospital can see you and that you should wave to them. How cute is that?! Sure, it has nothing to do with the mine but it was a great thing either way. If you are lucky you might see the eagle owls that live here. The most impressive thing about the walk is that you are walking along with The Great Pit (Stora Stöten).
The great pit – a huge collapse in the mine
The great pit is the most impressive part of Falu Gruva. Since the mine was worked on both from the inside and the outside, it was a huge working place for people living in Falun. However, in 1687, on June 25th there was the biggest collapse of the mine ever. What’s left today is called “The great pit” or Stora Stöten (in Swedish). What was the biggest collapse, ended up not hurting anyone.
It happened on a day when the mine was closed and when no one was there. If it would’ve been a regular working day, hundreds of people might have died. After the huge collapse, they continued to mine and accidents did happen at times. But not any collapse like this one ever happened again. It’s impressive to see the huge hole that the collapse left behind. Make sure to find the opened gaps in the fence to get some awesome pictures.
Join a family working the mine in 1897
New for 2020 but part of the permanent exhibition is the “Erikssons stuga” from 1897. It’s a live exhibition where you are welcomed into a mining family home in 1897. At about 13:40 daily, there’s a theatre where you can get some really fun show. You are allowed to enter the house during the opening hours, but the show is only once a day.
It was so impressive to see the actors because they never got out of character. And that must be really hard because while we were waiting for the show to start, we were inside the house and talked to one of the actors. Even his language was old-fashioned – how awesome is that?!
Shopping and eating at Falu Gruva
There are several different places inside the area where you can eat, drink and shop. Like a lot of the gift shops in Dalarna, the store inside the World Heritage is really nice and it’s a great place to get your souvenirs. We didn’t try any of the restaurants or cafés but when we looked inside it seemed to be nice places. The fact was that we spent all our time in the museum and had to hurry to our next appointment.
New for 2020 is an ice cream parlor that is close to Erikssons stuga. So when visiting Falu Gruva, you can be sure that you will not be hungry or thirsty during your visit. If you want to buy something really special at the gift shop – Falu Rödfärg is the thing even if it might not be the funniest of gifts.
Falu Rodfarg – As Swedish as it gets
There are several things from Dalarna that are “typical” Swedish. The Dala horse, Falukorv (a sausage), and of course, Falu Rödfärg. What is it? Well, it’s a special red paint that, to this day is really popular. It’s made out of iron ore and gives the paint a rich red color. In the 1500 and 1600s, they used to paint castles and special places. During the 1700s the paint became more common on regular houses and to this day while visiting Dalarna you’ll see the famous paint.
In fact, you don’t have to go to Dalarna to see it. You can find, and buy, Falu rödfärg all over the country. At the Falu Gruva they have the factory where it all started. They need the mine to get the iron ore and you can see huge piles of it while walking the mine tour. Unfortunately, you are not allowed into the factory – now that’s a tour we would’ve loved to do!
Falu Gruva by motorhome
Visiting this place while traveling in a motorhome is easy. Inside the property, they have both overnight parking and parking for motorhomes during the day. The parking is inside the mine-area so it feels safe to leave the car while exploring the area. The spots are big and you can fit a large motorhome inside without any problem.
It’s a self-service place so you pay in a machine when you arrive. We ended up using the parking during the day but if we had more to do in Falun, we would’ve gladly had stayed here longer.
More things to do and visit in the area
- A little more south from here, you will be amazed to see Östra Silvberg. It’s a mining area that is not used anymore and filled with water. So if the weather allows you can go for a swim.
- And even further south a visit to Stora Skedvi there is a place that serves amazing food and lets you try to bake crispbread.
- A road trip around Siljan with loads of things to do and see.
- There is a cool art gallery inside old mining buildings in Avesta that is worth a visit.
Information about Falu Gruva
Address: Gruvplatsen 1, Falun, Sweden.
Opening hours: 10:00 – 16:00 daily during the summer.
Entrance fee: Guided tour of the mine: 240 kronor (about 24 euros) per adult. Reservations are recommended. Visit the museum: 110 kronor (about 11 euros) per adult.
Website of Falu Gruva.
Disclaimer: Our visit to Falu Gruva was part of a press trip that was arranged by Visit Dalarna. All the thoughts and opinions are our own!