The Galleria Villamarina is part of the Monteponi mining complex, which was formerly one of Sardinia's most important producers of lead, zinc, and silver. It was dug by men in 1852. The tunnel was named after the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Marquis of Villamarina, and it was excavated at a height of 174 metres above sea level, connecting two shafts: the Vittorio Emanuele shaft and the Sella shaft. The Vittorio Emanuele shaft, was used for miners' descent and ascent as well as the recovery of lead ore collected from the Monteponi Mine's 80 kilometres of tunnels. The Sella shaft, housed the large steam pumps that "sucked" the underground water, ensuring the protection of the galleries.
A visit to the Galleria Villamarina is a fascinating journey into the mine's underground world. Here it is possible to visit the winch room, the landslide containment systems, the winches for the descent and ascent of materials and people, and the working methods for constructing the tunnels. The tunnel is 70 metres long and has two openings called “Asilo”(nursery school) and “Suore”(nuns). These curious names were suggested by the presence, in the nearby, of the house of the “Suore della Carità”, who looked after patients in the mine hospital, and of the nursery school.
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