The area around Altenberg was mined for over 550 years. During this period, more than 100,000 tonnes of tin were extracted, on both sides of the Saxon-Bohemian border, from one the world’s largest tin ore deposits. Important monuments such as the Wäsche IV (ore washer) in Altenberg, the mining installations in Zinnwald, Lauenstein Castle and Lauenstein Church are testimonies of mining, the technologies used, the administration and the connections between the areas under Saxon and Bohemian rule.

  • Main Elements
  • Interactive Map
  • Altenberg Sink-hole

    Following the discovery of tin deposits around 1440, extraction began in the area surrounding the present-day sink-hole. The ore was largely mined using the fire-setting method. After the ore was removed, empty chambers (known as stopes) remained. The deposit site was honeycombed with such stopes. Eventually, the remaining pillars were unable to support the weight of the stone overhead. The first collapses took place in the 16th century, and the largest collapse occurred in 1620. It caused the destruction of large parts of the original mines, and a two-hectare funnel sink-hole appeared at ground level. Today, this sink-hole is 160 metres deep with a diameter of 400 metres, covering an area of around 12 hectares.

  • Ore washer (Wäsche IV)

    In the 16th century, wet stamping was developed in the Erzgebirge to crush the ore. Later this process was used throughout the world. One place where this process was performed is the historic washing works, Wäsche IV, in Altenberg. The washing works was closed down in 1952 and converted into a technical exhibition centre. Since then it has been run as a museum.

  • The Aschergraben ditch

    The Aschergraben is one of the most important technical achievements from the early period of mining in Altenberg. It is the oldest artificial water complex in the Altenberg mining district. The artificial water course was constructed between 1452 and 1458. For over 500 years, it reliably provided water to the water wheels and ore dressing works. The Aschergraben carried the water from the border forests above Cínovec to Altenberg over a distance of 7.4 kilometres along a downward incline of 0.3-0.6%. After mining in the area ceased, the water from the ditch was no longer needed. Nevertheless, the Aschergraben has been retained as a viable water course.

  • Vereinigt Zwitterfeld zu Zinnwald

    Tin, tungsten and lithium were mined in Zinnwald. The Tiefen Bünau adit was cut to drain the mines in the 17th century (1686). The Tiefe Hilfe Gottes adit was excavated in the middle of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, modern operating plant was built. These include the entry building at the Tiefen Bünau adit. The buildings and plant at Vereinigt Zwitterfeld, the Tiefen Bünau adit and the Tiefen Hilfe Gottes adit are currently used as visitors’ mines.