Silver Trail of the Olkusz Miners (Srebrny Szlak Gwarków Olkuskich)
Until now, the mining traditions of Olkusz were not visible to the naked eye of the inhabitants and tourists visiting the city. This gap is to be filled by the 'Silver Trail of the Olkusz Miners', i.e., an educational and historical path in the Olkusz Old Town. In eighteen places of the Old Town, on pedestals made of the characteristic red Parczew conglomerate, figures of miners were erected the. Each figure is different, has different attributes and ‘tells’ a different story, illustrating a selected aspect of the town's history, i.e. an event, a character, a historically important place or a legend of Olkusz.
Visitors entering the Old Town from the west are welcomed by a gwarek sitting on the remnants of the former Sławkowska Gate (Brama Sławkowska) using a shovel to hold aloft the town's coat of arms. The figure of the gwarek standing by the Basilica of St. Andrew (Bazylika św. Andrzeja) in Olkusz holds a large cross referring to the silver 'Cross of the Gwarki' founded in the 17th century by the Olkusz miners that is in the church, there to draw your admirationthe church.. Figures of miners minting coins are set in front of the building of the Old Starosty, where at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries the Olkusz mint operated. Two miners symbolically carrying an ingot of Olkusz lead stand in the place where the town scales were located in the medieval market square. There is also a gwarek lead smelter and a gwarek-blacksmith, placed in front of the School Complex No. 1 in Olkusz. One gwarek with a sword 'defends' the Wall Tower in Olkusz, and the weapon of the second one, set in front of the PTTK Regional Museum, refers to the ‘executioner's’ sword, which can be admired in the collection of this museum. Another gwarek climbing the ladder, set in front of the 'Brengarda' – Museum of Firefighting – illustrates the traditions of the Olkusz's fire brigade, dating back to the 15th century. The figure of the old miner standing in the city park refers to the Hospital Church of the Holy Spirit (kościół szpitalny św. Ducha), which has been located here since the 14th century.
The figures of the miners also tell the legends of Olkusz. Thus there is Gwarek the Treasurer, i.e., the spirit of the mine, and the gwarek leaning over a cradle, illustrating the legend about silver cradles ordered by rich Olkusz miners.
The figures of miners are the works of Jan Siuta – a sculptor, painter, philosopher, and graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. One of his numerous works includes the sarcophagus of the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, and the First Lady at the Wawel Royal Castle. The figures of gwarki wearing their characteristic slippers and hooded coats are inspired by the original iconography, i.e., images of miners which we know for example from the works of the 16th century scientist Georgius Agricola, or figures of miners holding coats of arms of Olkusz and Poland, which we can see on the 16th century painting on the wall of the presbytery of the Basilica of St. Andrew in Olkusz.
There is a plaque next to each figure with information about the history of the place where the figure is located. The figures of miners create an interesting trail. For the time being, it is possible to walk it and discover more than 130 replicas of trojak coins from Olkusz, i.e., coins with the image of King Sigismund III Vasa (Zygmunt III Waza), which were minted in the Olkusz mint, and gwarki holding the Coat of arms of Olkusz.
Within the framework of the project, work is underway to create a mobile application. Once downloaded, while walking along the 'Silver Trail of the Olkusz Miners', approaching each sculpture, thanks to the technology of the so-called beacons it will be possible to listen to the 'story' of the gwarek about the history of the city or the place where the sculpture is located. The recordings that will guide tourists along the route will be available in Polish, as well as in English, German and Russian. They will be tailored to the needs of different groups of users. Implementation of new technologies will enable full use of the prepared educational programme by people with disabilities, especially the blind and visually impaired, who can not only touch the sculpture of the gwarek, but also listen to the story told by him.