Ore was mined for over 800 years in an area north-east of Freiberg’s old town. The many small mines of the medieval period were united over the course of centuries to form the biggest and most modern combined mine in Europe. Numerous well-preserved mining systems and the lines of heaps in this mining landscape bear witness to this development. Ensembles of buildings such as the Reiche Zeche shaft complex, the Abraham shaft and the Alte Elisabeth mine confirm the extraordinary variety of machine technology that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The ore from the Freiberg mining area was originally smelted at many different sites in the region. As a result of state reforms, only two smelting complexes were ultimately left in existence; the oldest of these is situated in Muldenhütten. Once the largest and most significant smelting complex in the Erzgebirge region, non-ferrous metals have been processed here for at least 600 years. A number of new technologies were also developed at this site. From 1887 to 1953, Muldenhütten was initially home to Saxony’s State Mint, and then became one of several minting locations in the GDR. Today, this industrial complex is considered one of the oldest smelting sites for non-ferrous metallurgy in Germany to still be in operation.