Only a few towns in the world have played such an important role in the development of mining and metallurgy as Jáchymov (Joachimsthal). Founded in 1516 on a rock slope in the Erzgebirge, the town is one of the birthplaces for the sciences of mining, metallurgy and mineralogy, the main foundations of which were provided in the 16th century by Georgius Agricola. In 1716, the world’s first mining school was founded in Jáchymov. In the Svornost mine, which is still functional today, uranium ore was extracted systematically for the first time in the world, an achievement that dates back to the 19th century. In 1898, Marie Curie isolated the radioactive elements radium and polonium for the first time in Jáchymov ores. Up until the outbreak of the First World War, Jáchymov was a world leader in the production of radium. In 1906, the first radon spa in the world was founded in Jáchymov. Radioactive water is still extracted from the Svornost mine for curative purposes today.
The town was also of great importance in the development of coining. The silver thalers minted in Jáchymov Royal Mint influenced the development of the early modern currency system in Europe. The “thaler” gave its name to the most important global currency of the modern age, the dollar. Of outstanding importance are the former Royal Mint, the town hall, the Church of St. Joachim, the All Saints’ Hospital Church and a row of town houses in the town centre.
In the vicinity of Jáchymov, there are a great number of sites relating to the mining and processing of ore. These include monuments both from the period of silver and non-ferrous metal mining from the 16th to the 19th century and from the period of uranium ore mining in the 20th century, in particular after the Second World War.
The area around Krupka (Graupen) has been profoundly shaped by tin ore mining over a period of at least 800 years. Streaming was probably used to extract tin here from as early as the Bronze Age. From the 13th century at the latest, tin ore was mined, but copper and later tungsten, bismuth and molybdenum ores were also extracted, along with common feldspar and fluorite. As the oldest tin district in the Erzgebirge, Krupka has greatly influenced the science of mining tin deposits. This knowledge was applied in Krupka and in other districts on both the Bohemian and the Saxon sides of the mountains.
The Starý Martin adit is a first-class mining monument that has the longest tin lode in central Europe with a strike of 2 km. Many further important remains of above-ground and below-ground mining from the 13th to the 20th century can be found in the mining districts Knötel, Preisselberg and Komáří hůrka (Mückenberg). The growth of the mining town Krupka is closely connected to mining. Particularly striking is Krupka Castle, a 14th-century building. Other buildings of great importance are the Gothic Church of the Assumption of Mary with its late Gothic bell tower, the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of St. Anna, preserved in the Renaissance style, and historical town houses.
The landscape shaped by mining to the north of the former mining town of Měděnec (Kupferberg) is a significant component part of mining historical heritage in the central Erzgebirge. Mining was primarily concentrated in the vicinity of the summit Mědník.
There is evidence of the mining of iron and silver-bearing copper ores from hard skarns here for a period of almost six centuries. The distinctive hill with the Baroque Chapel of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which dates from 1674, is unique not only in the Erzgebirge but also in Europe because of its large number of historic mines. On a small area, approximately 70 adits and shafts were operational between the 15th and the 19th century; of these, numerous collapsed openings, funnel-shaped sinkholes and heaps of waste rock remain.
The adits Marie Pomocná and Země zaslíbená are open for the public and clearly illustrate the preserved evidence of sinking of shafts by hand and firesetting.
Between 1529 and 1533, shortly after the founding of Jáchymov, three new important mining towns appeared almost simultaneously in the upper reaches of the Erzgebirge: Abertamy (Abertham), Boží Dar (Gottesgab) and Horní Blatná (Bergstadt Platten). The reason behind this was the rich discoveries of silver, tin and iron ores in the near vicinity. Abertamy with its neighbouring mining settlement Hřebečná (Hengstererben) was built on Bohemian territory. Horní Blatná and Boží Dar, on the other hand, were founded by the Saxon Elector John Frederick on previously undeveloped land and only incorporated into the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1546.
Horní Blatná is one the most striking examples of Renaissance-style planned mining towns in the Erzgebirge. Similar to Marienberg, its distinctive features are a large, central, almost square marketplace, dominated by the Church of St. Lawrence, and a system of roads running perpendicular to each other.
The ore districts Horní Blatná, Hřebečná and Bludná (Irrgang) bear witness to 400 years of tin ore mining. Overground, a series of notable objects are preserved, including Vlčí Jámy sinkhole and Ledová Jáma sinkhole on the summit of Blatenský vrch (Plattenberg), the sinkhole of Susanna mine in Bludná, and the Schneppova sinkhole in Hřebečná. Worthy of special mention is the sinkhole of the Red Mine in Hřebečná, which measures over 230 m and is one of the largest of its kind internationally. From the perspective of mining history, the underground section of the Mauritius mine in Hřebečná is of great value. There, authentic evidence for a wide variety of tin ore mining processes from the 16th to the 19th century is preserved. In the skarn district Zlatý Kopec (Goldenhöhe), where tin, iron, copper and zinc ores were mined, clear evidence of underground ore extraction is preserved. A unique element of the local mining landscape are the heaps near Boží Dar, which bear witness to the enormous scale of cassiterite mining by placer work in the highest reaches of the Erzgebirge. The man-made ditch Blatenský příkop, still fully functional today, can be considered one the most significant mining water supply systems in the Czech part of the Erzgebirge.