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.

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  • Svornost mine

    The Svornost or Einigkeit (Unity) mine is the oldest uranium mine in the world. It was first opened in 1518 to extract large silver deposits, at which point it was known as the Konstantin Mine. It was renamed in 1530 to commemorate the resolution of an argument between local mine owners. Up until the 19th century, it was one of the main centres of silver and cobalt extraction in Jáchymov. From the mid-19th century, it became one of the most important sites in the area for the mining of uranium, which was used initially to make pigments and later to make radium. The mine was closed in 1901, but was reopened under state control in 1924 to resume production. At that time, a new shaft building with sanitary fittings, a machine room with an electricity-powered hoisting machine, mechanical workshops, and a building with living quarters for the mine employees were also constructed. On the 12th. level, a radioactive water source – which had first appeared in 1864 at a depth of 532 metres – was tapped and channelled into the Jáchymov health spa. It was named the Curie Spring. In 1946, the Einigkeit mine became part of the newly-created Czech state mining company Jáchymovské doly. The communist regime set up a forced labour camp for political prisoners not far from here in 1949. After uranium mining ceased, the Einigkeit mine was given to the Jáchymov health spa in 1964, to secure it as a source of radioactive water for the spa. The mine, which was comprehensively modernised between 1992 and 1996, still serves this purpose today. The Einigkeit mine is also known for the discovery of a series of uranium-containing minerals which were first described at this location (as of March 2018 there are 15 such minerals).

  • Jáchymov Historic Old Town

    The highly successful economic development of Jáchymov in the 16th century led to the rapid development of an outstanding town architecture shaped by historic built monuments from the late Gothic and Renaissance periods. The first completely Protestant church in the Kingdom of Bohemia was built in Jáchymov. The former royal mint, the town hall, the St. Joachim Kirche (Church of St. Joachim), the Allerheiligen (All Saints’) Hospital Church, and a row of town houses in the town centre are of particular importance.

    • Königliche Münze

      The Royal Mint, located next to the town hall in the upper part of the town, is an extraordinary testimony to all periods of Jáchymov mining. From 1520 until 1671 it has been the seat of a mint where the famous Jachymov thalers were minted (until 1528 it was owned by the Counts of Schlick, in 1528 it passed to the royal hands and until 1671 it operated as the Royal Mint). From 1538 until 1918 the building also housed apartments and offices of the Supreme Mining Office. In 1716, the world’s first state mining vocational school was established here. In 1918, the building became the head office of the state Jáchymov mines. From 1946, it served briefly as the head office of the Czech-Soviet uranium mining company, Jáchymovské doly (Jáchymov Mines). From 1964, the building houses the Jáchymov branch of the Karlovy Vary Museum.

      The corner of the Royal Mint is still dominated by a beautiful oriel window with intersecting bars and a date of completion: 1536.

  • Freudenstein Castle

    Freudenstein Castle lies outside the borders of the protected heritage area of the town on a hill above the north-western edge of the settlement. The castle was built by Stephan Schlick in 1516–17 to protect the town. Records indicate that the first Joachimstalers, unauthorised local coins, were minted illegally in the cellars of the castle in 1519. In 1548, the castle came into royal possession and was used as the seat of the royal mining overseers. During a siege by the Swedish army in 1636, the castle was seriously damaged by the artillery and destroyed by fire. The castle was abandoned and slowly decayed. Only the two towers remained standing. The large tower in the north-west corner, known as the Schlick Tower, still stands at its full height of 19 metres. There is a 12-metre round tower in the south-west corner, which previously served as the powder house where gunpowder was stored for use in mining.

  • Heap and sink-hole corridor above the Schweizergang (Swiss Seam)

    The corridor of heaps and sink-holes following the line of the Schweizergang (Swiss Seam) is a typical example of the surface evidence left by the start of ore-mining activity in Jáchymov in the first half of the 16th century. The seam was discovered in 1526. Using picks, silver was reportedly found up to a depth of 80 metres. The Schweizergang was the second-most productive seam in the Jáchymov district after the Kuhgang (Cow Seam). By 1589, around 30 tonnes of silver had been extracted. The seam reached the surface just below the current road from Mariánská, just past a location known as the Abertamy Crossing. The underground route of the seam is mirrored on the surface by an impressive line of closely-spaced heaps, comprising hundreds of heaps and stretching over a distance of almost 2.5 kilometres. Many of them are associated with characteristic funnel-shaped depressions (sink-holes) which are formed by the collapsed mouths of hauling shafts. The heap and sink-hole corridor above the Schweizergang is the most extensive and coherent of such landscapes resulting from historical surface-ore extraction in the Czech Republic.

  • Fundgrübner adit

    The start of mining activity in Jáchymov and the foundation of the town are very closely related to the Fundgrüben (or Discovery Mine) adit in the oldest part of the town. As recorded by Georgius Agricola in 1530, two miners unsuccessfully attempted to open up an adit near the Schottenberg mountain in 1512 after discovering the first seam of silver ore in the area. They were forced to abandon work on the Fundgrüben adit due to insufficient funds. In 1516, the count Stephan Schlick, who owned the Ostrov estate, began to finance the work. After only a few metres, significant silver deposits were discovered in the Fundgrüben seam. The discovery triggered a silver rush in Jáchymov. The mouth of the Fundgrüben adit is located on an undeveloped plot of land next to Platz der Republik 496 near the Baroque Chapel of St. Anne. The adit mouth, composed of mica slate, is covered by a grating and is not currently accessible.

  • Eliastal (Elias Valley)

    In Eliášské údolí or Eliastal (the Elias valley) the remnants of silver ore mining in the 16th to 19th centuries are uniquely combined with those of the uranium mining activities in the second half of the 20th century. The relics of the oldest mining era can be most easily recognised on the road between Nove Mesto and Abertamy. Here, dozens of heaps and sink-holes mirror the routes of underground silver seams. In the middle of the 16th century, the Heinzenteich pond (now Horký rybník) was created to provide water for the mining works. After the Second World War, the central part of the Elias valley in particular changed significantly as a result of uranium mining. The tremendous extent of the underground mining is evidenced by the enormous heaps for the Eduard, Jiřina, and Eva shafts, and those higher up the valley belonging to the Rovnost, 14, and Adam shafts.

  • Türkner Mountain

    The Šance mountain (originally Turecký vrch or Türckner Berg) represents yet another important element of the Jáchymov silver district. Extraction commenced here immediately after the foundation of Jáchymov, the results still visible in the many old sink-holes and collapsed adits. At the same time, this area provides an illuminating insight into how the mines were supplied with water from the 16th century onwards. This is because the Gegenbau adit (with its mouth on the eastern slope of the mountain) and the Dürrenschönberger adit (which opens to the west below the Jáchymov town pond) cut through the entire mountain. They served as leats which led water flowing through the irrigation channel from the Neklid or Unruh adit below Boží Dar into the chamber of the Einigkeit mine. The total length of the watercourse, including its underground sections, was over 4 kilometres. The Gegenbau and Dürrenschönberger adits are still used for water-management purposes today.