Góra Zelejowa – reserve

The quarries on Zelejowa mountain are one of the most interesting historical mining sites. This site was famous for the “różanka zelejowska” - calcite deposits that take on unique patterns. The white and pink calcite, coloured with cherry-red haematite and decorated with green and blue touches from copper ore, created a colour pattern unlike any other. The name “różanka zelejowska” stems from the unique structure of the rock, where slivers of white calcite are surrounded with cherry-red haematite, creating a characteristic rose pattern. Moreover, the różanka could be polished neatly, which made the local rock a worthy competitor to Italian marble. The first mention of the extraction of this mineral comes from the 15th century, when the Polish historian Jan Długosz wrote: “Chęciny, a hill with a castle adjoining a town that goes by the same name, in and around it many marble mines”. The oldest known products made from różanka zelejowska can be found in the Wawel cathedral in Cracow. They can also be seen in many baroque temples not only in royal Cracow, but also in Kielce, e.g. in the details of the main altar of the monastery on Karczówka. In the local vocabulary, many limestones mined here are called “marble”. This is an incorrect use of the word, as – contrary to marble – the Świętokrzyskie limestone is not metamorphic rock. What makes the “różanka zelejowska” similar to marble is its crystal structure. However, it were not metamorphic processes that formed this crystal structure but hot mineral (hydrothermal) waters which flowed under pressure in the limestone cracks during the Variscan orogeny in the late Carboniferous period (299-325 Ma). The slotted post-mining excavations that were formed after extraction of the calcite cut through the limestone heights from north to south reaching ca. 20 metres of width in some places. At certain points a red or brick-coloured decomposed karst rock can be observed on the faces of the cavities. Karst waters have dissolved the limestone and removed the calcium carbonate. They left  loam and rusty compounds of iron oxides, which often accumulate in karst voids.

Traces of old mining works can be observed on the faces of the excavations. Here you can see hollows cut in stone where wedges were thrust to separate blocks of “różanka” from solid rock. At first dry wooden wedges were used for this purpose. After thrusting the wedge into the hollow, water was poured over the wedge and caused it to swell and break the stone. The last stone blocks extracted at this site were used for the siding of the columns of the museum of the Świętokrzyskie Branch of the Polish Geological Institute located at 21 Zgoda street in Kielce. The quarry ceased operation in 1954.