Located in the central Erzgebirge, the Marienberg mining region borders the Freiberg district in the east and the Annaberg district in the west. It is one of the younger districts of the Erzgebirge mining region. Silver, tin, and iron were key raw materials here, and significant deposits of resources such as chalk and marble were also quarried. In the UNESCO World Heritage nomination, the region is represented by the historic old town of Marienberg, the Olbernhau-Grünthal liquation works, and the mining landscapes of Lauta and Ehrenfriedersdorf. Other important historical and tourism-relevant elements, such as the Augustusburg hunting lodge, the Lengefeld lime works, the Grüne Graben ditch at Pobershau, the Niederzwönitz paper mill, and the Seiffen Toy Village are included in the mining region as associated objects.
The mining town of Marienberg was founded in 1521 after rich deposits of silver were found in the region and built as a planned town. The layout of the town follows the principles of the ideal Renaissance town, which were applied for the first time north of the Alps. Its most important objects include the Renaissance town hall, the Hall Church of St. Mary, the town walls and the mining storehouse. Marienberg was the final important mining town to be founded in the second silver mining period in the Erzgebirge.
Evidence of mining in Lauta dates back to the 16th century. Impressive lines of heaps from silver ore mining follow the course of lodes and shape the landscape. Each heap marks the location of one or more surface shafts. The intervals between the heaps reflect the size of the former mine fields. The Bauer Morgengang and Elisabeth Flachen lodes are amongst the most historically important lodes. From the 18th century, the shaft Rudolf-Schacht, the most important main shaft, was developed along the latter.
The works, founded in 1537 by mining officer Hans Leonhardt, takes its name from liquation, a process for extracting silver from silver-bearing copper ore. Grünthal Liquation Hut Complex was an independent community with its own jurisdiction. With its almost completely preserved production and administrative buildings, residential and utility buildings, the Liquation Hut is a testimony without parallel in Europe to the preindustrial smelting and processing of silver-bearing copper ores.
The region surrounding Ehrenfriedersdorf is one of the oldest medieval tin ore mining areas in Germany. Tin ore was mined here from the beginning of the 13th century. With the development of new water pumping technology, the Ehrenfriedersdorfer Kunstgezeug, mining restarted in the 16th century after a temporary halt. The patented process was subsequently applied in the entire mining industry. Numerous surface installations from this second flourishing of mining are preserved.