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.

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  • Grünthal Liquation Works

    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. The Grünthal Liquation Works was an independent community with its own jurisdiction. Residential and utility buildings can therefore be found here alongside production and administrative buildings. After being taken over by the Electorate of Saxony, the Works became a copper processing centre, where copper coins were also minted. Virtually all of the buildings have remained intact to date, forming a testimony without parallel in Europe to the pre-industrial smelting and processing of silver-bearing copper ores. The copper hammer built in 1534/37 is located outside the Works complex. Between 1958 and 1960, the site was converted into a technical exhibition centre.

    • Old power station

      The launch of the power plant signalled the end of the old power centre, the Lichthaus, which was turned into a dwelling. The building is directly related to the construction of the plant’s power centre in 1895-1905. Construction of the energy supply system meant that the site and some parts of the surrounding area could be supplied with electricity. The one-storey building has a natural stone base, an arched window and a flat gable roof, and is still used as a residence today.

    • Carpenter’s house with smelting school

      The Zimmerhaus and the Works School are linked by a connecting structure. The rectangular, tiled pitched roof of the connecting structure links the gable roof of the Zimmerhaus and the hipped roof of the school, with eaves and ridge at the same height. The roofs have different roof structures, such as shed dormers and cowls. Both the Zimmerhaus with butcher’s stall and the adjoining school were built in 1612. The older part of the building was erected as a stable in 1537, and later used as a teacher’s residence and thus a school at the same time. A date marker from 1627 can be seen on the edifice. In 1873, the ground floor of the old carpentry was turned into a coach house. The butcher for the Liquation Works lived on the ground floor of the Zimmerhaus, in the southern part of the Works.  

    • West Gate

      The Westtor is the most striking access point to the Liquation Works site. Following the last fire in the adjoining buildings in 1675, a watchman’s house with a passage was originally erected at this entrance to the Works, but was demolished in 1856. In its place, the Saxon copper and brass production company F.A. Lange built a decorative gate. Two columns built from quarry stone with a stepped top section have copper spikes adorned with a ball atop a pavilion roof. The gate arch joining the two columns, decorated with castellations, has a small pitched roof. The gate itself is a two-wing wooden door. Two crowned stone coat of arms decorated with scrolling are inset into the columns. The lower stone bears the inscription: “GEGRVNDET 1567 VON HANNS LIENHARDTAVS ANNABERG ERKAVT 1567 VONCHURFVRST AVGVST” (Founded 1567 by Hanns Lienhardt from Annaberg bought 1567 by Elector August).

    • House of magistrate Lange

      According to the dating of the sill beam in the half-timbered structure, Judge Christoph Lange’s house was constructed in 1611. The beams are adorned with hollow mouldings in the shape of little ships. The two-storey house with its original small window openings was built of solid masonry in the basement and half-timbered on the upper floor. The half-timbered work to the west was later replaced by solid walling. The half-timbered work is notable for its top rail and blind rail that run all the way through, as well as for its simple St. Andrew’s crosses, some of which have been preserved. It is topped by a tiled gable roof.

    • Smeltery inn

      The Hüttenschänke is one of the most emblematic buildings on the site. It was originally the manor house of the copper hammer, which also served as the residence for the shift master. When a separate house was constructed for the shift master, it began to be used as an inn for the workers in 1568. The Liquation Works had the right to sell its own beer. By the 16th century, the Hüttenschänke was a two-storey building with a solid masonry ground floor, a half-timbered upper floor and a partially overhanging top floor. Its slate-roofed gable roof, protruding slightly, has a shed dormer on both sides, with six or seven windows. Sitting above the south-east-facing gable is the Baroque bell tower, adorned with copper sheeting, and boasting lanterns and a 19th century bell. On the gable, directly beneath the bell tower, is the splendid face of the Liquation Works clock, designed with gold leaf.

    • Ore assayer’s house

      The assayer’s house is one of the largest and most eye-catching buildings in the Liquation Works. Two storeys high, it can be identified by a main building and a side building to the north-west. Both buildings are two storeys; each has an overhanging gable roof featuring various dormers of different designs. While the ground floor of both buildings is a solid wall construction, the upper floors and the gables are half-timbered. When converting the Anrichterhaus and the adjoining copper depository, the side building ‒ which has an oriel window and round windows on the ground floor ‒ was erected using older building material from the former copper depository. This was where the tough-pitch copper intended for sale was originally stored. The basic substance of the Anrichterhaus and the copper depository dates back to around 1586.

    • Shift foreman’s house

      The building known as the Schichtmeisterhaus is a one-storey, solid masonry building with a high hipped roof. The slightly protruding shingle roof features several eyebrow dormers. The gables are boarded. The window and door openings are arranged in what is thought to be the original design from the time of the house’s construction. They are accentuated with the use of plaster frames. The water ditch that originates from the Lange Hütte (Long Works) open-air museum and originally flowed into the pond of the old refining house can be found situated between the Schichtmeisterhaus and the assayer’s house, which lies to the north-west.

    • worker’s house

      This building is another small, one-storey worker’s house, spanning approximately 80 sqm. It differs from other worker’s houses in its structural arrangement, as its gable end faces the thoroughfare to the Works. At the same time, the longitudinal side of the house stands parallel to the eastern water ditch, the drainage ditch for the Lange Hütte (Long Works). The house has been altered by the addition of new, large windows (not corresponding to the original layout), and possibly by the asymmetrical entrance to the house. The gable roof, like the gable, is adorned with asbestos shingle and does not have any shed dormers.

    • Workers’ house Seiferthäuschen

      The little cottages for the workers were created when the Liquation Works was founded, to ensure that workers remained in the region. This was necessary, as production did not run throughout the year. Eight worker’s houses are listed in the inventories of 1567. They were situated next to production buildings – probably for safety reasons and to protect against fire. The so-called Seiferthäuschen was a small, one-storey building spanning around 60 m². On both longitudinal sides, the house has two windows and a door opening. Each gable side has a window opening on the ground floor and in the roof gable. The house has a shingle hipped roof with a bull’s eye on the southern side. The half-timbered structure inside the house suggests that the building was originally constructed entirely in this style. 

    • Worker’s house

      The worker’s house is also thought to date back to the 16th century in its essentials. It is incorporated into the row of neighbouring residences set along the street leading through the Works. While the overall appearance of the building envelope may match the original, rebuilding works have altered the character of the building dramatically. These include changes to the layout, size and style of the windows, a new annex with pent roof on the back of the building, the large gable roof covered with roofing felt, and, last but not least, the colour of the building.

    • Smeltery forge

      North of the workers’ residences and south-east of the refining house is the Hüttenschmiede, still positioned inside the wall. It is a two-storey building with solid masonry construction on the ground floor, and half-timbered on the upper floor. The eastern gable is walled all the way along; the western gable was blended with slate. The forge had a tiled gable roof. This was removed in  2008, including the gable. The forge was used until 1867 and subsequently converted into a residence.

    • Processing works, former copper depository

      In addition to the Lange Hütte (Long Works, now an open-air museum) and the refining house, the hoisting house was originally one of the most important buildings in the entire process of liquation and post-processing, in particular separating the silver still bound to lead following liquation. The hoisting house contained a large refining hearth, into which a pair of bellows pumped the air required for the process. The bellows were driven by a water wheel. In addition to various storage chambers, the Treibehaus also housed a laboratory, a bathroom, and at times also the Liquation Works’ (copper) mint. When liquation operations ceased, the refining process became redundant and the building was turned into a storage facility, and then into a foundry in 1886. The Treibehaus was burned to ash during a fire in 1903; a new, modern foundry was subsequently built in its stead.

    • Lange Hütte (Long Works)

      The Lange Hütte, newly built in 1562, formed the technological and architectural hub of the Liquation Works. One-storey high, the building was 36 m long and 21 m wide. An assay building was added to the northern side of the Lange Hütte, where assayers examined the raw materials to be processed and their metal content. Further extensions contained a Gestübekammer (a room where clay and coal dust was prepared), an ore roasting spot, as well as wheel chambers (wheelhouses). Three water wheels situated in the building operated the bellows for five shaft furnaces and two smaller refining hearths with their long shafts. A further type of refining furnace and five liquation furnaces were situated on the eastern wall of the building. In 1952/53, the Lange Hütte was torn down to its foundation walls. To illustrate the technology used at these Works and the technological processes involved in liquation, various facilities were later reconstructed, mostly in their original locations, including various types of furnaces and bellows.

    • Large charcoal house

      One large and one small charcoal house were situated east of the Lange Hütte. The large amounts of wood charcoal required for the various processes at the Works were stored dry in these special storage buildings. The eastern walls of the charcoal houses also served as the main walls for the Works. The foundation walls of the large charcoal house are barely identifiable from the outside, as they were incorporated into the new leisure centre (bowling, shooting gallery) during conversion works.

    • Old account house

      This simple building ‒ later altered, converted and expanded several times ‒ was erected in 1604 as a residence for the factor of the Liquation Works, HIERONYMUS EYMER. Although the building complex was originally arranged as a small farmstead, only the main building to the north-east and the adjoining side building are still preserved. The Alte Faktorei is today a two-storey, solid wall building with a basement. It has a gabled roof with shed dormers covered by roofing felt shingle. The aforementioned older annex has a hipped roof. The considerably newer, two-storey annex to the south-east also has a gabled roof, which does not, however, reach the ridge level of the main building. An outside flight of steps on the longitudinal north-eastern side of the building leads to the main entrance on the elevated ground floor. From 1848 to 1886, the building was used as a new school.genutzt.

    • Stables

      Standing south of the large barn is the large, inconspicuous-looking stable building, spanning an area of almost 540 m2. It has a flat gabled roof covered in roofing felt. Inside the stable, cast-iron columns were used to support the structure.

    • Manor house and Faktorei (account house)

      The original manor house, later housing the trading post, is now the dominant building in the entire complex. The bottommost of the three attic levels was used for residential purposes. On both sides, therefore, the roof was adorned with shed dormers positioned on two levels. The central building was erected in 1560 by the UTHMANN family, and later rebuilt several times. After the territorial lord of Saxony purchased the Liquation Works, the building was converted to house the chambers of the Elector’s family and their servants. The replica of an electoral heraldic panel held by two iron workers, dating back to 1586, with an inscription commemorating the first expansion of the manor house under ELECTOR CHRISTIAN stands above the entrance on the eastern side of the manor house. The house served as both trading post and residence for the factor, and was also used for storage at the same time.

    • Walls and gates to the Works

      The central area of the Liquation Works ‒ including the Lange Hütte, the hoisting house, the manor house and the inn ‒ was originally secured by a wooden fence and later by palisades. The events of the Thirty Years’ War proved that this protective wall was inadequate during times of conflict. As a result of these experiences, between 1656 and 1694 a wall made from quarry stone was erected, measuring a total of 1019 m in length and around 2.1 m in height, and equipped with arrow slits. Parts of the wall have survived in the north-west section between the West Gate and the refining house; in the east near the East Gate and the forge; as well as near the gates to the Works east of the new trading post, located at the manor house. Access to the Liquation Works was via a secured gate system. Passing through the gates, the Grabensteig trail from the manor house led to the lower and upper Hüttenteich pond.

    • Old brewery

      In 1580, an old hammer house, known as Kleine Hammer (Little Hammer) was converted into a brewery by the factor Heinze. Privileges awarded when the Liquation Works was founded included the right to brew and sell beer. When the Works was re-privatised in 1873, the brewery was turned into the Zimmerhaus (carpentry). The brewery is a one-storey building, with a tiled gable roof; its eastern half-timbered gable stands at an angle of nearly 45° to the eaves side. South-east of the building is a one-storey annex spanning just under 150 m2. The Liquation Works’ stamp mill, now torn down, was located north-east of the brewery.

    • Coach house

      The coach house is one of the newest buildings on the land within the wall. It has an L-shape layout and is one storey high, with an overhanging attic. The two buildings abutting one another have protruding slate-covered gable roofs with shed dormers. Today used as a residence, the building was erected in 1907. The coach house, now converted, stood opposite the house.

    • Power house

      The power house was built in 1905/06. Two Francis turbines with corresponding generators were used to produce electricity. The motive water procured from Rothenthal was supplied to the turbines through a pipeline from the Lichthaus under the Unterer Teich (lower pond). In times of water scarcity, a locomobile manufactured by the Lanz company supplied 120 / 180 kW. The chimney, today shortened, was erected for the purposes of the steam system. The power house as a whole covers an area of over 650 m2 and displays the industrial architecture typical of the early 20th century, with the use of clinker bricks as decorative elements, arched windows with iron-framed windows, and shallow gable roofs. Although the energy produced was sufficient to supply the surrounding buildings and industrial facilities with power, steam and water power continued to be used to drive the energy-intensive roll stands. 

    • Ditch system

      The water supply system for the Liquation Works can essentially be divided into water supplied from the Flöha river, and water supplied from the Natzschung river. Thanks to the morphology on one hand and the considerable amount of water supplied on the other, there was enough motive water to operate the technical facilities. Water from the Natzschung was taken from several smaller weir systems and supplied to the prime movers via manmade or motive-water ditches. The most common prime movers were water wheels. These drove the numerous bellows required for all sorts of processes at the Works. The bellows were predominantly box-shaped. Water wheels also operated the tail hammers for the hammer works, stamp mills and other technical systems via camshafts. The motive water stored in manmade pools, here called Hüttenteiche (“Works Ponds”) served to supply what was needed in times of low precipitation. Differentiation was made between the upper and lower ponds. A third manmade pool, which was filled in at the start of the 20th century, was located between the workers’ houses and the refining house. The water could be channelled into different manmade ditches and supplied to respective consumers. The majority of the ditches on the premises have survived; one section, particularly on the Liquation Works site, is today water-free.

    • Pond

      The trading post pond is the biggest of the three Works Ponds. It is almost 150 m wide and around 100 m long. A manmade island is situated roughly in the centre.

    • Arbour of the Faktor (smeltery official)

      West of the lower pond, right by the upper ditch, not far from the upper gate, is a jewel of architecture: the arbour for the factor of the Liquation Works, AUGUST ROTHE. Built from wood and adorned with a copper-clad tented roof, the summer house covers an area of around 16 m2. The inside is adorned with various psalm verses, and the original colour has been partly restored using local cobalt pigment.

    • Old hammer mill

      The copper forge known today as the Althammer was built around 1534/37. It is located outside and to the east of the section of the liquation works wall which survives nearby. From 1958 to 1960, the Neuhammer machinery was used while the technical equipment at the Althammer was repaired. The technical equipment of the forge is comprised of three tilt hammers driven by a camshaft attached to a water wheel. A second water wheel operates the bellows using a rod system. The wheel chambers are located on the eastern side of the building. The distinctive hearth is located directly over the fire. It reaches the eaves of the roof and is decorated with a crown. Until 1914, copper sheets were manufactured in the forge, and processed into everyday items such as a wide variety of bowls and kettles. It has been used as a museum display since its restoration in 1960.

    • Smeltery mill

      The creation of the Works Mill dates back to the beginnings of the liquation works. Christoph UTHMANN was named as the builder in 1537. The mill originally had three milling gears. Over the course of its history, the works were damaged or destroyed, and then rebuilt, multiple times as a result of fire, flooding, and war. The works mill was originally leased to its users solely for milling. Only after 1945 was it used as a living space, and it was turned into a residential home with a café in 1986. Today, the mill is a solid masonry building with a gabled roof and an added upper floor. There is a two-storey extension, also with a gabled roof, on the north side of the building.

    • Refining house

      The Refining House of the Olbernhau-Grünthal liquation works is only a few metres to the west of the mill, outside the liquation works wall. Built by the UTHMANN family around 1560, the Refining House, too, dates back to the earliest days of the liquation works. Prior to this, the refining process was carried out in the Long Works. With an area of nearly 280 square metres, the Refining House was one of the largest buildings of the liquation works. After the liquation business was discontinued, the building was used as a refinery. It was later used for wire drawing and as a workshop, and now functions as a shop. To accommodate these changes in use, the building was significantly modified a number of times. Today, the building is a one-storey construction with an impressive gable roof. On the southern side, an extra storey was added and the roof was modified to a pent roof (with one dormer). An outbuilding was added to the northern gable end.

    • New hammer mill

      The Neuhammer forge, which was also founded in the sixteenth century, is situated on the left bank of the Flöha river. It was in use from 1586. One of the wheel chambers facing the Flöha held two water wheels, each with a diameter of about 8.5 metres. One water wheel operated the three tilt hammers of varying sizes while the other drove the double bellows for the fire. A second, smaller bellows was operated manually. This was used to heat up smaller items during the forging process. A separate room on the ground floor originally served as a lockable copper storage room. Under each of the three tilt hammers stood an anvil. The anvils were supported by blocks, and each one was a different size, matching the three differently sized tilt hammers. The technical equipment was still functioning in the first half of the 20th century. In 1960, it was moved to the Althammer. In addition to administrative rooms, the half-timbered building also contained the coppersmith’s living quarters. The upper floor of the building may have been added at a later date.