The discovery of silver ore in 1168 led to the founding of Freiberg, the oldest mining town in the Erzgebirge. The town developed into a mining centre of supra-regional economic, cultural and scientific importance. Important buildings, such as the mining authority offices, the mining university, Freiberg Cathedral and numerous town houses bear witness to the influence of mining. A further significant building is the former Kahla porcelain factory, built in 1913 as a post-mining industry.
Important Locations and Sites
Historic Town Plan with Fortification
Just a few years after the discovery of veins of silver ore around Freiberg (around 1168), work began on constructing the upper parts of Freiberg with a large marketplace and a regular street plan. Freiberg’s old town was surrounded by a town wall from 1200, of which one part still remains. Within this fortified part of the town, many residential and civic buildings, large buildings and religious buildings that reflect its strong connection with mining have been preserved.
The predecessor of Freiberg Cathedral, the Romanesque basilica Unser lieben Frauen, was constructed around the end of the 12th century. Its main portal on the west side, the Goldene Pforte, was constructed around 1230 and remains standing to this day. Following its destruction during the Freiberg fire (1484), the building was rebuilt by the beginning of the 16th century as a triple-naved late Gothic hall church with circumferential galleries and reticulated vaulting. The cathedral owns a number of valuable historic works of art including the tulip pulpit (1505), the miners’ pulpit (1638), various epitaphs and two Silbermann organs (1711/1714).
Freiberg Castle dominates the town’s structure. Originally constructed under Margrave Otto (1125-1190), Freudenstein Castle was converted into a Renaissance palace in the mid-16th century under Elector Augustus (1526-1586). Today the castle houses the Saxon Mining Archive and terra mineralia, an important exhibition of minerals.
Kahla Porcelain Factory, Zweigwerk
The Kahla porcelain factory was established in 1844 and became one of the most important porcelain manufacturers in Germany by the time of the First World War. The construction of the factory building in Freiberg began as early as 1905, just as mining was about to be shut down. In 1911 and 1914, the factory, which employed over 700 staff at times, was expanded. The porcelain factory in Freiberg shut down in 1932 following the Great Depression. The administration buildings and the former director’s residence were renovated as protected buildings between 1993 and 1997. Today the buildings house the district administration for Central Saxony.
Freiberg University of Mining and Technology’s Historic Building Complex
The historic complex of buildings belonging to Freiberg University of Mining and Technology includes several individual buildings that are connected to the university’s history as the town’s mining school. Where the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology’s main building currently stands, a new impressive late Gothic building was built shortly after 1500. The building was converted in 1705. The main building underwent far-reaching changes and expansions in the 1830s and 1850s. The entrance area and the auditorium have been preserved from the original.
In 1912 the foundation stone was laid for the Abraham-Gottlob-Werner building, which is named after the famous mineralogist from Freiberg. The building was handed over to Freiberg Mining University’s mineralogy institute in the presence of the Saxon King Frederick Augustus in 1916. The central front entrance is a decorated portal featuring sculptures of natural and mining history. Today the building houses geological collections and exhibitions that are among the tenth oldest in the world.