People have been changing the character of the landscape for millennia but hardly anywhere has been its appearance transformed as radically as in mining areas. For example, in addition to steel production, the people of Ostrava also created their own hills.
What exactly is a heap?
By heap we mean an artificial hill. When the coal was mined, unnecessary tailings were brought to the surface, which, after being sorted out, were exported and piled up by workers, thus creating heaps. Ema, particularly, consists of about 28 million tons of mined material. It is located on the Silesian Ostrava territory, on the right bank of Ostravice river and it is a protected monument which currently reaches a height of 314 meters. At least for now.. How so?
Is it really smoldering?
The answer is yes. The heap is thermally active - the material from which it is made is still burning beneath the surface. Therefore, Ema has already lost around 8 meters from its original height due to constant burning and will, unfortunately, continue to shrink. Temperature inside reach up to 1500 ° C. Thanks to this, rare minerals are formed - porcelainites and jaspers. On the surface, you can see puffs of gas; methane and sulfur dioxide, accompanied by a typical odor. The warm climate (snow is a rare sight here) benefits plants and animals which are usually typical for warmer climates.
Count Wilczek and his wife Emma
The Ema heap was established at a coal mine which was founded in 1861 by Count Wilczek. He named the heap after his dear wife, the court lady of Archduchess Zofia, Countess Emma Maria Emo Capodilista. Mining was terminated in 1933 and the whole area remained intact until the 1960s, when it was demolished. The impressive heap is the only thing that is left as a memorial to the origin of the Italian Countess Wilczková who died in Vienna at the respectable age of 91.
Which way up
If you want to take a trip on Ema, you can choose from three hiking trails. The first one starts behind the M. Sýkora Bridge near the Silesian-Ostrava City Hall and it will lead you to a residential area and up the forest. On the second way from the Silesian-Ostrava Castle, you will walk around the central cemetery, where you can see the beautiful, late Baroque Church of St. Josef. The route from the zoo is rather steeper, suitable for more experienced tourists and enthusiastic athletes who want to properly stretch their bodies. All the routes are definitely considered to be quite a nice walk, so it is up to you which one to take. Volcano Ema, here we come!
We highly recommend following the example of the experienced Ostravans who often visit the Ema heap to enjoy beautiful sunsets, they are more than worth it.