The rich ore deposits and the associated mining activities in the area gave the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains their name and laid the foundation for the region to become economically, culturally and sometimes also politically important on both the German side of the mountains as well as the Bohemian side. Mining has influenced the landscape and the culture in the region for hundreds of years. Not only did it influence economic and cultural developments in Saxony and Bohemia, but it also had an influence on other mining regions, both national and international.
To date, evidence has been found for six distinct mining periods between the 12th and 21st century. These show the history of mining in the Erzgebirge and highlight its significance in the development of the region’s cultural landscape over more than 800 years.
The first mining settlement in the Erzgebirge, at that time named the Bohemian Mountains, Bohemian Forest or Miriquidi (dark forest), sprang up in the middle of the 12th century.
Between 1156 and 1162, Margrave Otto von Meißen (1125-1190) had the forest cleared between the river valleys Freiberg Mulde and Striegis, and had several villages built in the forest clearings for the Altzelle Monastery, including Tuttendorf, Berthelsdorf and Christiansdorf. In 1168 silver ore was discovered near Christiansdorf. This discovery quickly led to mining fever or “Berggeschrey”.
On this news, the Margrave claimed back the three villages and asserted droit de régale in order to claim for himself the subsurface natural resources on his land, in particular the silver, although these resources actually fell under the king’s mining rights. News of the discovery of silver and the promise of riches tempted many miners to the area, particularly from the south of Germany and the Harz region, and with them came retailers, craftsmen and their families to the Erzgebirge. The assurance of special freedoms for miners, including personal freedom and release from various soccage taxes and services, also increased the population influx. In particular, the freedom to mine introduced by Margrave Otto led to an influx of experienced miners. Everyone was allowed to mine the precious silver, and everyone was able to receive authorisation to mine for a corresponding fee. The silver mined and processed, however, was only allowed to be sold to the Margrave’s mint.
Through the wave of immigration, the formerly agricultural forest village of Christiansdorf became the high medieval town of Freiberg (literally the “free mountain”) within two centuries, and it remained the largest and most populous town in the Erzgebirge for several decades. Ius Fribergensis, the famous Freiberg town and mining law, first mentioned in 1233, became very important for the Erzgebirge from 1307 in its written form. In 1267 the silver from Freiberg was described as the “most pure and best silver” in the Book of Minerals by the Dominican monk Albertus Magnus.
The Freiberg mine is the oldest documented and most important mine in the Erzgebirge. However, mining also started from an early date in other areas of the Erzgebirge, in some cases in parallel to developments in the Freiberg area and elsewhere independently from them. For example, the mining town Dippoldiswalde was settled in the 12th century. In the following one and a half centuries mining spread to the north side of the Erzgebirge. In 1387 a first ore mine was named in what was later to become the Brand-Erbisdorf ore fields. More mining areas sprang up in Nossen and Hohen Forst near Schneeberg.
After silver mining came tin mining, at the latest between the 13th and 14th century, on either side of the Erzgebirge. There are records of tin ore finds at Ehrenfriedersdorf in 1293 and tin ore mining in Graupen (Krupka) in 1305. In 1241, Erzgebirge tin had a significant effect on the Cologne metal markets, which were important across Europe. The most important tin deposits at this time were Altenberg’s Zwitterstock from 1436. Over the course of the century, these tin deposits became one of the most important tin mining areas in Europe. During this first mining period from 1168 to the middle of the 15th century, ore mining as well as manufacturing and processing copper and iron began to take off in the entire region.
From the middle of the 15th century, the search for silver deposits spread to the upper Erzgebirge south-west of Freiberg and led to a revival of silver production in the region. Rich silver deposits were found in 1470 in Schneeberg, in 1491/92 near Schreckenberg (today Annaberg-Buchholz), and in 1516 near St. Joachimstal (Jáchymov) in the Bohemian area of the Erzgebirge. Several new silver mines sprung up over a short period of time and led to an unprecedented boom for mining in the Erzgebirge.
As a result of the increasing mining activities, new towns – in some cases planned settlements – were founded across the whole of the Erzgebirge near to the discovered ore deposits. Included amongst them were important mining towns such as Schneeberg, Annaberg and Marienberg on the Saxon side and Platten (Horní Blatná) on the Bohemian side. Altogether around thirty of the mining towns on the Saxon side and twenty of the mining towns on the Bohemian side of the Erzgebirge were established within just a few decades as a result of mining, making the Erzgebirge one of the most densely populated low mountain ranges in Europe with a number of mining towns that was unique internationally. With a number of privileges (e.g. market, brewing, tavern and butchering rights), these new towns did not just lure in miners and their families but also craftsmen and merchants as well as artists and scholars. In particular the larger mining towns, such as Freiberg, Annaberg, Marienberg, Schneeberg and St. Joachimsthal (Jáchymov), became economic, spiritual, scientific and cultural centres with numerous spectacular sacred and secular buildings.
But the foundation and rapid development of new mining towns is not the only characteristic of the Erzgebirge’s second main mining period; the exploitation of new ore deposits in the upper Erzgebirge, combined with new mining technology that enabled the mining and exploitation of ore at greater depths, is also a feature of this period. This meant that investments by merchants, electors and dukes gained in significance in the mining industry.
The increased capital inflow led to an intensification of mining activities and the discovery of new, rich ore veins. It was this capital inflow that enabled the construction and productive use of new technology as well as hauling, water-lifting and dressing machines. This allowed ore deposits to be mined at greater depths even under more difficult conditions. Important advances in conveying and water storage technology in particular were made after 1470, while mining work on the ground largely remained the same as it had in the centuries before.
The silver mined in the Erzgebirge was minted in the Freiberg, Annaberg, Buchholz, Schneeberg and St. Joachimsthal (Jáchymov) mints and later made into coins on the Saxon side. Here the Joachimsthaler minted by the Dukes of Schlick in St. Joachimsthal (Jáchymov) from 1519/1520 were particularly important both in Europe and internationally. In addition to the buildings in the mining towns, many spectacular buildings were also constructed elsewhere in Saxony with the proceeds from mining in the Erzgebirge. These include the Albrechtsburg castle in Meißen from 1471 and the hunting lodge Augustusburg from 1568.
Around the middle of the 16th century, the Erzgebirge’s mining industry had attained a worldwide leading position technologically and economically, and the Erzgebirge became the centre of mining in Central Europe. The intense mining activities in the 16th century led the area to be renamed from the “Bohemian Forest” or “Bohemian Mountains” to the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains. The name Erzgebirge was first used in mining records in 1527.
In addition to silver ore, which had its heyday in the 1530s, many other ores, such as tin, copper, iron and cobalt, were mined and processed in the Erzgebirge in the 15th and 16th centuries. The start of the second mining period is connected in particular to the boom in tin ore mining in the east of the Erzgebirge on both sides of the Saxon-Bohemian border. Graupen (Krupka) received the first mining regulations for the eastern part of the Bohemian Erzgebirge in 1464. In the years from 1514 to 1518, collective mining regulations based on those from Graupen (Krupka) were passed for Altenberg, Geising, Mückenberg (Komáří hůrka) and other tin mines.
In the 16th century, the focus of tin mining activities shifted to the western part of the Erzgebirge, where, after smaller deposits had been depleted, particularly rapid exploitation began in new ore fields, in particular in Hengstererben (Hřebečná), Platten (Horní Blatná), Gottesgab (Boží Dar) and other areas. The Bohemian part of the Erzgebirge, along with Schlaggenwald (Horní Slavkov) in the Kaiserwald (Slavkovský les), south of the Erzgebirge, became the largest tin production centre in continental Europe. Bohemian tin even displaced tin delivered from British mines in certain periods. The highest production figures were achieved between the 1550s and the 1570s, after which tin mining declined.
The Thirty Years’ War had tragic consequences for the economy and society in the Erzgebirge. The mining towns of the Erzgebirge suffered particularly during this war. Much damage was due to plundering. Many towns were burnt down during the war (e.g. Graupen, Kupferberg) or were heavily damaged (Freiberg, Joachimsthal). Several mines were destroyed or collapsed due to insufficient maintenance. Mining practically came to a halt in the entire Erzgebirge during the Thirty Years’ War as a result of the destruction of mining and smelting complexes as well as the occupation and burning of many mining towns.
The violent re-Catholicisation pursued by the Habsburgs from 1620 was a particularly hard blow for the Bohemian Erzgebirge, which had been largely Protestant since the 1520s. It finally led to a political, economic and cultural division of the Erzgebirge between the Catholic Bohemians and Protestant Saxons, whose development took separate paths from the 1650s at the latest. The soon-to-follow rebuilding of the state and the economy was characterised entirely by absolutism, both on the Bohemian and on the Saxon side.
Only in a few regions of the Bohemian Erzgebirge was it possible to maintain mining activities during and after the war. In the tin mines of Hengstererben (Hřebečná), mining was able to restart, albeit on a lesser scale than in the 16th century. However, the subsurface mining of tin ore in the neighbouring area of Platten (Horní Blatná), was limited to a minimum and could largely only be sustained by extracting tin through placer work. Overall, the Thirty Years’ War plunged the mining industry in the Bohemian Erzgebirge into a deep and long-lasting crisis that would soon be exacerbated by the Counter-Reformation. As a result, many Protestant families from Platten and neighbouring mining towns emigrated to Saxony. Here they established the newest mining town in the Erzgebirge, Johanngeorgenstadt, right next to the Bohemian border, with the permission of the Saxon Elector at the beginning of 1654.
In Saxony, many miners and their families had to turn to other professions as a result of the general decline in the mining industry after the Thirty Years’ War. This led to the establishment of many trades more or less directly connected to the mining industry in the Saxon Erzgebirge, such as toy making in the Olbernhau-Seiffen area, serpentine turning in Zöblitz and braid and lace-making around Annaberg and Schneeberg. These trades took advantage of the raw materials to be found in the region as well as its manpower. The specific abilities and knowledge of the miners laid the foundation for the creation of an early centre for publishing and manufacturing production in the Saxon Erzgebirge. The development profited largely from the massive influx of Protestant exiles from Bohemia, who significantly contributed to the commercial structure of the Saxon Erzgebirge with their abilities and knowledge. This also led to a new boom in mining on the Saxon side, as the establishment of Johanngeorgenstadt (1654) and the “Zwitterstock zu Altenberg” union (1663) show.
A significant boom in blue dye production occurred from 1635 in the Saxon Erzgebirge due to the collapse in revenues from cobalt mining between 1625 to 1635 as a result of the war. By 1650 blue dye factories were established in Niederpfannenstiel, Jugel, Oberschlema, Sehma and Zschorlau (Schindler’s Factory). They merged by 1694 to form a blue dye consortium and created an international monopoly on blue dye, which was only broken in the 19th century with the development of synthetic production of ultramarine dye (1828). To this day, Schindler’s factory in Zschorlau continues this tradition of blue dye manufacture – with synthetic ultramarine since 1855, however – in the Erzgebirge.
In Saxony the crisis in the Erzgebirge mining industry triggered by the Thirty Years’ War was slowly overcome at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century, a period characterised by absolutism. In 1702 a fund for the practical and scientific education of Saxon mining officials was established in Freiberg by the mining authority, as a result of which Freiberg Mining University would emerge in 1765.
New mines also went into operation outside of the Freiberg ore fields around the turn of the 18th century. In 1698 in Aue kaolin deposits were found. There provided the basis for the development of European hard-paste porcelain by Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682-1719) and others at the beginning of the 18th century in Saxony. The silver and the kaolin that provided the basis for porcelain manufacture from the Saxon Erzgebirge contributed considerably to financing the expensive upkeep of the court and the enormous buildings and art collections of Elector Augustus II (1660-1733) in Dresden.
Following Saxony’s economic decline, exacerbated by the chaos of the Seven Years’ War in the first half of the 18th century, the mining industry experienced another boom from about 1770 onwards. In this fourth main period, the mining industry could not match the yields of the 16th century, due to the poorer veins of ore, but the founding of the Mining University in Freiberg in 1765 led to fundamental new scientific and technological breakthroughs that enabled the transition into the industrial age.
In the following decades the entire mining and smelting industries were reorganised. The main focus was the technical modernisation of the mining industry. The founding of the Mining University in Freiberg contributed considerably to the mining, processing and smelting of ore on a sound scientific basis.
Previously hardly used ores such as bismuth, cobalt, nickel, zinc and uranium became more important during this time. The mining industry in the Erzgebirge remained a significant economic factor in Saxony. From a quantitative perspective, Saxon ore mining in the 19th century became less important on the international and national stages, but in qualitative terms it continues to represent a number of technical innovations and scientific advances until this day.
New mining and smelting processes were introduced based on technological and scientific knowledge. Use of improved hauling and water storage technology allowed mining at greater depths, therefore enabling miners to reach more of the existing deposits. With the technical modernisation and the expansion of the infrastructure funded by the state, such as the construction of the ore canal in Freiberg’s northern ore fields (operational from 1789), or the construction of the Rothschönberg adit (1844 to 1877) to drain the Freiberg ore fields, attempts were made to halt the decline of the mining industry. In the end the hardly profitable mining industry in the Erzgebirge owed its existence to the intense investment and support of the State of Saxony.
The same applied to the smelting industry in the Erzgebirge, which, following the closure of unprofitable sites such as Antonshütte smeltery in the western Erzgebirge, was concentrated in two key locations near Freiberg: Muldenhütten and Halsbrücke. New smelting processes based on scientific and chemical research were developed at the Mining University that proved useful in the modernisation of the silver smelteries owned by the state.
In 1823, argentan (nickel silver) was produced in Aue from nickel, zinc and copper. The first factory for argentan production was constructed in 1829 in Auerhammer. Under the trademark Alpaka, a significant amount of tableware and jewellery was manufactured in Aue. This meant that the traditional cutlery manufacturing industry already present in the Erzgebirge was continued in a new form and quantities.
As a new branch of Saxon mining, coal mining at the edge of the Erzgebirge began as a privately funded industry in the first half of the 19th century. It was at the most modern level at the time, with workings in Plauenschen Grund near Dresden and the Zwickau and Lugau/Oelsnitzer ore fields. Coal mining would become an important foundation for the rapid industrialisation occurring in Saxony. The general development of industry in Saxony, particularly mechanical engineering, had a direct influence on the technology used in mining, but it also profited directly from the mining industry and the technology developed there. It was no coincidence that the first locomotive built by Richard Hartmann (1809-1878) in Chemnitz was called “Glück Auf” (a traditional miners’ greeting), and that the steam engine of the shaft complex at Alte Elisabeth in Freiberg designed by Christian Friedrich Brendel, Saxony’s mechanical engineering officer, was constructed by the Chemnitz-based engineering company Pfaff.
The following period of the Erzgebirge mining industry in Saxony was characterised by the final attempts to halt its decline, which had been evident over the past decades, particularly in silver ore mining. In 1871, the gold currency was introduced with the establishment of the German Empire, which caused the price of silver to plummet further. The Saxon State tried to avert or at least delay these developments with dramatic reforms in mining administration as well as organisational and technical modernisation.
Around 1870, 5,000 miners were still working in the Freiberg ore fields alone. But even the completion of the Rothschönberg adit in 1877, the largest and most important adit in Saxony, which drained the entire Freiberg ore fields, could do little to halt the decline. Despite all of the measures taken, ore mining remained unprofitable. For that reason, a policy decision was taken in 1903 to close the Freiberg ore mines, which led to the planned closure of the majority of the mines by 1913.
Coal mining of the three largest Saxon deposits on the other hand took a different turn, a turn that represented an important step for the region’s industrialisation at that time. At the northern edge of the Erzgebirge, this included the Lugau-Oelsnitz coal fields, with important shaft complexes such as the Kaiserin Augusta shaft. This shaft, named in 1869/1874, was completely modernised from 1920 onwards and its performance significantly improved.
Ore mining in the Saxon Erzgebirge first experienced a revival under the National Socialists with their goal of autarchy and the rearmament of Germany in the 1930s. Sachsenerz Bergwerks AG was formed to this end in 1937 and was designed to relaunch non-ferrous metal mining in Freiberg and other ore fields. This led to the building of new mines in the Erzgebirge to extract strategically important natural resources below the surface, including a variety of steel alloying elements such as tungsten, nickel and manganese. By the end of the Second World War, both ore mining and coal mining in the Erzgebirge had attained great strategic importance.
The start of the fifth mining period in the Bohemian part of the Erzgebirge is defined by a number of important events. In 1850 the state became virtually the only mining operator in Joachimsthal (Jáchymov), after acquiring the Einigkeit mine (Svornost) from the town. The ensuing reorganisation of administration and changes to the technical equipment in the mine laid the foundation for the extraction of more silver ore but also for uranium extraction, which was conducted on a large scale for the first time.
Uranium ore was particularly important in the development of mining in Joachimsthal and used for the extensive production of uranium dyes in the second half of the 19th century and later periods. These dyes were manufactured from 1852 in a new factory, which no longer exists, directly in the town. The Joachimsthal mines gained in importance once more when the French physicist Henri Becquerel proved the existence of radiation from radioactive materials in 1896, and when Marie Curie isolated the new chemical elements polonium and radium from waste from the uranium dye factory in Joachimsthal in 1898. At the beginning of the 20th century, the mines in Joachimsthal were the only uranium mines in the world. Following the discovery of the healing properties of radioactive mine water, the world’s first radium and radon spa baths were built in 1906 in Joachimsthal.
The economic boom in the Bohemian Lands, and with it in the Erzgebirge, was severely disrupted between 1914 and 1918 by the First World War. The militarisation of industry at the beginning of the war meant a temporary revival of tungsten mining in Graupen (Krupka) and Zinnwald (Cínovec) and manganese ore mining in Platten (Horní Blatná), but overall the economy suffered severe losses as a result of the war.
Following the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, attempts were made to revive some of the mines in the Erzgebirge, but ore mining could not be revived, with the exception of uranium ore mining in Joachimsthal.
The uranium ore deposits in the Erzgebirge became of great strategic importance after the Second World War in the development of Soviet atomic weapons on both the Bohemian and Saxon sides. Directly after the war therefore, an intense search for uranium began in the Saxon Erzgebirge, too. The majority of the shaft and mine complexes in the Erzgebirge mining industry that were not destroyed by the war were placed under the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD), which began large-scale prospecting for uranium ore.
Under the cover name Staatliche Aktiengesellschaft der Buntmetallindustrie “Wismut” (AG Wismut, state corporation for the non-ferrous metal industry), mining of the rich uranium ore deposits began in the old mining fields as well as in new, deep shafts in the western part of the Erzgebirge. The Saxon Erzgebirge therefore experienced an unusual mining period from 1946 with the mining of uranium ore. These mining activities, which were unique worldwide, took place in densely populated areas of the Erzgebirge and employed hundreds of thousands of miners. They had a long-lasting effect on the region. For the third time in history, thousands of people came to the Erzgebirge to start a new life. In the early years political prisoners and criminals were forced to mine for uranium, but benefits such as better supplies of food and consumer goods, higher wages and better health care from AG Wismut soon also drew many workers of their own free will to the Saxon Erzgebirge. Under the control of AG Wismut, a “state within a state” developed within the new German Democratic Republic with its own party and state security organisations and its own transport system and health care facilities.
Whereas only 15.7 tonnes of uranium were produced in 1946, a year later it was already 145 tonnes. On 29 August 1949 the first Soviet atom bomb was detonated, which was only possible due to the uranium ore mined in the Erzgebirge. AG Wismut became the most important uranium producer in the USSR’s sphere of control. Initially, the centres for uranium mining were mainly the historic mining areas near Johanngeorgenstadt, Schneeberg and Schlema. Johanngeorgenstadt became one of the most important uranium mining areas in the German part of the Erzgebirge. The intensity of mining activities resulted in many of the deposits being exhausted after a short period of time. New uranium ore deposits were then exploited. In Thuringia, near Ronneburg, Wismut geologists discovered uranium ore deposits that could be mined from the surface. Slowly mining shifted from the Erzgebirge to neighbouring Thuringia. AG Wismut was transformed from a Soviet into a Soviet-German corporation (SDAG) in 1954. Until 1953 the profits of AG Wismut were paid to the Soviet Union as reparations. In this time around 10,000 tonnes of uranium were mined.
With the end of the GDR and the reunification of East Germany with the FRG, SDAG Wismut’s mining activities came to an end after 1990. On the one hand uranium ore was no longer needed in large quantities, and on the other it became unprofitable for Saxon uranium mining to continue on the free market. Following the political changes, the now federally owned Wismut GmbH was responsible for cleaning up the remains of uranium mining and the uranium ore dressing industry. Once again, this transformation is without precedent. Uranium ore mining only continued until 1990 in Schlema and Pöhla. Altogether AG Wismut mined 231,000 tonnes of uranium ore in the GDR. A large part of this came from deposits in the Erzgebirge.
Following the end of the Second World War, the re-establishment of Czechoslovakia let to the displacement, expulsion and emigration of German inhabitants from the Bohemian Erzgebirge and the settlement and immigration of Czechs to this region. Directly after the war, all mines were nationalised, and private companies were forbidden from operating in this industry. In the 1950s and 1960s most of the well-known deposits in the Bohemian Erzgebirge were explored again, and in some areas, mining activities actually restarted.
Uranium ore mining had a very specific role in mining activities after the war. In May 1945 the Jáchymov mines (Joachimsthal) were once more seized by the Czechoslovakian state. But on 11 September 1945 they were occupied by Red Army soldiers. The whole operation was organised by the Red Army’s headquarters in Annaberg, Germany. Along with Jáchymov, the areas around Annaberg and Johanngeorgenstadt were also affected.
After intense recruitment drives, miners began to arrive in Jáchymov, as well as new residents from across Czechoslovakia. At the end of 1947 around 3,750 people were employed here. But even this increase in manpower was no guarantee of meeting the increasing demands of the Jáchymov Commission. As early as February 1948, German prisoners of war, transported here from the USSR, started their “work” in the state-owned corporation Jáchymovskédoly (in total 12,000 people; from the beginning of 1949 they were slowly “expelled” to Germany). Prisoners’ camps were erected near the mines, whose internal organisation, all the evidence they produced and other organisational matters were monitored by the employees of the Soviet security services.
From February 1948, following a government takeover by the communist regime, a boom in ore mining never seen before in the Jáchymov mines occurred: it is unprecedented in the history of Bohemian mining. Sufficient manpower for Jáchymov was now secured from concentration camps and prison camps that were set up directly next to the uranium shafts. The Red Tower of Death remains as a witness to this period in mining.
As a result of the mining activities in the whole history of these ore fields more than 8,000 tonnes of uranium ore were mined, of which 7,200 tonnes was mined under the state-owned corporation Jáchymovskédoly. Prospecting for radioactive materials shortly after the Second World War was not restricted to the Jáchymov ore fields, which included Abertamy (Abertham), but was also conducted in several other ore fields, such as Boží Dar (Gottesgab), Měděnec (Kupferberg), Přísečnice (Preßnitz), Přebuz (Frühbuß) and Oloví (Bleistadt). However, these endeavours had little success.
Annaberg’s town church is one of the most important late-Gothic buildings in Saxony. In St. Anne’s Church, new shapes and a lighter type of vaulting replaced the soaring vaults characteristic of Gothic architecture. Elements of Renaissance style can be seen in a number of architectural features, as well as in the altars. From the beginning, the town plan included an open space intended for the future church. Foundations for the stone church were laid in 1499. The church features a number of noteworthy construction elements. It was built as a three-aisled church, and its pillars are not load-bearing. The structure of the roof distributes its weight perpendicularly onto the outer walls of the church. The outstanding entrance to the Old Sacristy, finished in 1518, is one of the oldest Renaissance portals in Saxony. The altars were erected in the 1620s. Building work on St. Anne’s Church was completed in 1525. A number of changes were made to the structure over the following centuries. Following extensive renovation, St. Anne’s Church has once more been restored to its original 16th-century condition. The church also houses numerous epitaphs, including some dedicated to famous mining figures.
The town fortifications were comprised of five gates, towers, two gatehouses, and 19 towers, as well as nearly 2.5 kilometres of wall. The construction of the fortifications began in 1503 and was completed in 1540. It was largely financed through the city’s stakes in various mines. The town walls were made of quarry stone and lime. The walls had five gates: the Bohemian Gate, the Buchholz Gate, the Frohnau Gate, the Mill Gate and the Wolkenstein Gate. A number of buildings – the malt house at the Bohemian Gate, the powder tower, the slaughterhouse and the grain house – were integrated into the city walls. A small pond, previously known as the Horse Pond, was integrated into the defences in the south-east. Several long stretches of the town walls can still be seen today. In addition to this, a number of defensive towers that were structurally converted in the 19th century have survived. Some of these were used for residential purposes. The construction of the town promenades occurred alongside the partial demolition of the town walls.
The former Franciscan monastery was built between 1502 and 1512. Originally, the construction was made up of a completely enclosed area surrounded by four tall buildings and the monastery walls. The main entrance to the monastery church was through the “Beautiful Door” or “Golden Gate”. The gardens covered the area from the monastery to the town walls and small cloister gate. However, the monastery was deconsecrated in 1539. A number of art-historical objects, as well as the monastery’s library, have survived. By 1577, the monastery’s church was derelict and the “Beautiful Door” was relocated to St. Anne’s Church. Today, the high altar of the monastery church serves as the high altar of the St. Katharinenkirche (St. Catherine’s Church) in Buchholz. At the start of the 19th century, much of the monastery was demolished. All that survives of the monastery today are a choir wall of the monastery church with six windows, the remains of the enclosure walls, and some cellar constructions.
The church, built between 1502 and 1511, is located on the north-west side of Annaberg marketplace. The Miners’ Church of St. Mary is the only church in the Erzgebirge financed entirely by a miners’ guild. The construction of the church was paid for with contributions to the Annaberg Miners’ Association. Until the end of mining activities in the Annaberg ore fields, the Miners’ Church was used for worship exclusively by people involved in the mining industry. It held mining sermons at the end of each quarterly administration period for the mines, as well as on mining public holidays. The church was destroyed by fire on several occasions. The Miners’ Church as it is now dates back to 1736. The most notable items in the church’s historical inventory include the miners’ pulpit and the historical pews for the miners’ association. The nativity scene featuring characters dressed as miners and townspeople has been on display since the church was reopened in 2005. It is a link between the town’s mining history and the present. During the First World War, the historical mining bell was melted down. A new bell was consecrated in 1996, and in 2005 the church was reopened after comprehensive restoration.
Annaberg’s large town hall is one of the beautiful secular buildings in the mining town. The town hall is located at the north-east corner of the market place. It was originally built between 1535 and 1538 and was later destroyed by fire several times. In 1731, the Dresden court architect JOHANN CHRISTIAN NAUMANN (*1664 †1742) created a design for the rebuilding of the town hall which was only partially realised during its construction in 1752. In addition to the remnants of the stone spiral staircase tower from the 16th century, the vaulting on the ground floor and the reconstructed mine surveyor’s room are particularly worth visiting. Representations of people involved in the mining industry in the 17th century, as well as important coats of arms, are on display in the latter. Extensive restoration was carried out in 2002.
The local mining authority in Annaberg is a three-storey terraced house in the Große Kirchgasse, the connecting street between the marketplace and St. Anne’s Church. The mining authority building has a facade painted in the Baroque style. There are dormer windows on its gabled roof. The original vaulting survives in the hallway.
The Annaberg mining storehouse, built on the monastery grounds towards the end of the 18th century, is a solidly built three-storey construction with a developed attic level. As a mining storehouse, it was primarily used for grain. However, other items were also stored here. The original vaulting survives in the hallway on the ground floor. Despite extensive remodelling, the characteristic solid masonry construction of this former storage building has been retained.
This small two-storey terraced house was built in 1496/97. It was the home of the master mathematician ADAM RIES (*1492 †1559). The building was later repeatedly converted for different uses, and was used as both a residential dwelling and a school of mathematics in the 16th century. It was fully renovated between 1981–83 and once again in 2010. It has been used as a museum since 1984.
The building was constructed in 1507 as the residence of the elector, moneyer, and mine manager ALBRECHT VON SCHREIBERSDORF. Around a century later, in 1604, it began operating as an inn. It was joined with the neighbouring property to make one building in the 18th century. A third storey was added in 1835. The facade of the building was redesigned in 1920. Today, the building is a long construction with twelve bays and a hipped roof. There are a number of vaulted spaces on the ground floor, and there is a diamond vault in the hallway of the building. The dining area features an elaborately designed ceiling with wooden beams.
In 1500, a large, single-storey stone building was erected by HANS STRUNTZ. The ground-floor ceiling featured a striking cell vault. In 1508, just a few years after the house was built, the mining entrepreneur LORENZ PFLOCK was named as the new owner of the building. Under his ownership, the house was extended. The UTHMANN FAMILY were among the later owners of the house. After 1847, a third storey was added to the existing two floors. The building has housed the present town and district library since 1935. The imposing building has an entrance portal with a pointed arch, and an entryway which was previously used as a passage through the building. An entrance to the stairwell branches off to the side. The rooms on the ground floor are characterised by the previously mentioned cell and stellar vaults. The stairwell, too, is vaulted. On the upper floor is a historic coffered ceiling. The doors and entryways feature embrasures decorated with rods.
The Lazarus Ercker house is a large, solidly built two-storey townhouse with foundations dating from at least the 16th century. It features strong foundations on top of historic cellar vaults. The house was damaged by fire on several occasions, but was later rebuilt with new architectural features. The Annaberg-born LAZARUS ERCKER (*circa 1528 †1594) is thought to have been the most important previous owner of the house. ERCKER, who acted as moneyer and mint supervisor in Dresden and later in Goslar and the Bohemian town of Kutná Hora, is one of the mining town of Annaberg’s most famous sons. He gained international recognition through his widely disseminated book of assays, which was first published in 1574. Later editions of the book, Description of Leading Ore Processing and Mining Methods, were published on numerous occasions.
This mine is open for visitors! After a roughly 600-metre journey on a pit railway, visitors can view the impressive vestiges of the period of silver and cobalt mining between 1733 and 1857, as well as of the later uranium mining by SAG Wismut. The main attraction is the fully-functional replica water wheel. Standing 9 metres high, it was accurately recreated by members of the historic mining association Verein Altbergbau. A lot of the original machinery used for bismuth mining is still present, and can be viewed during a walk around the grounds of the mining complex.
The underground visitors’ mine includes a large number of machine rooms and wheel chambers, as well as various drift mines and excavated areas from all mining periods. The visitors’ mine is accessed through adit 81. This adit was built for uranium mining during the last period of mining in this area. It was a pilot shaft directly connected to the newly bored shafts 79 and 117. The cross-cut, which is partially open to visitors, is 903 metres long in total. Nowadays, the front part of the cross-cut can be traversed with a pit railway. The newly lined mouth of adit 81 also forms the entrance to the visitors’ mine. The original mouth of the Markus Röhling adit, originally called the St. Anna adit, can be found to the south of the new entrance and is of historical significance. The adit stretches over a total area of approximately 8.6 kilometres. The adit mouth walls date from 1831. Above ground, there is a technology park at the edge of the visitors’ mine. The administration and assembly building in the Sehma valley is used as a modern functional building by the visitors’ mine.
The Frohnauer Hammer consists of the iron forge and flood ditch, a small workshop building, and the manor house. The hammer mill was previously a grain mill, with origins most likely dating back to the earliest history of Frohnau village. The mill fell into disrepair at the end of the 16th century. Following a complete conversion in 1621, it became a hammer mill where various metals were forged – first silver, then copper, and finally iron. In 1692, the hammer mill burned down and was rebuilt shortly afterwards. The hammer mill went out of operation in 1904. The hammer mill association established in 1907 acquired the plant one year later, and it was operated as a museum from as early as 1909. The water-powered hammer mill is a quarry-stone building with shingle-covered hipped roof and an L-shaped floor plan. It is powered by water from the Sehma river, directed into a separate watercourse by a weir approximately 300 metres upriver from the forge.
In 1697, the manor house opposite the hammer mill was built. The date can be read on the wooden beam above the front door. The ground floor of the building is made of quarry stone blocks. Above that, the building has a half-timbered construction featuring diagonal crosses. The hipped roof is tiled with slate and features several dormer windows.
Exposed by the extraction of sand, gravel and basalt, Scheibenberg’s imposing basalt columns, measuring up to 30 metres high, were a reference point in the Neptunist-Plutonist controversy about the formation of the Earth. The controversy took place around 1800 between the Freiberg scholar A. G....
Due to the discovery of silver in the Erzgebirge, Saxony’s economy flourished in the 16th century. Constructed in 1568 by Elector Augustus I of Saxony on the summit of Schellenberg, Augustusburg Hunting Lodge is an impressive record of the prosperity generated by mining. Due to its altitude, water...
The three cylinder bellow of the Muldenhütten smeltery has come as first invention in the Saxon metallurgy and represents the only example at its original location. At the time of initial operation (1928) it was equipped by two twin-effective cylinders. Due to increasing demand for blast one more cylinder was added in 1848. Additionally, the water wheel for power generation had been replaced by a more efficient Fourneyron turbine. Within the last years of operation only the smeltery’s forge had been supplied with blast. Originally the cylinder bellow was set up inside a separate room of the smeltery in the area of the upper plant yard. After dismantling the smeltery at the end of the 1920s the blast building was erected on the foundation walls of the former engine room.
Together with the planned closure of the Freiberg mines at the beginning of the 20th century, funding from the State of Saxony led to new industrial companies settling in the area. The Elite Automobile Plant founded in Brand-Erbisdorf in 1913 is a typical example of a post-mining industry. Vehicles,...
The Kahla porcelain factory was established in 1844 and became one of the most important porcelain manufacturers in Germany by the time of the First World War. The construction of the factory building in Freiberg began as early as 1905, just as mining was about to be shut down. In 1911 and 1914, the...
First mentioned in historical records in 1212 and converted into a hunting lodge between 1555 and 1558, the castle is still a significant feature of the townscape of Schwarzenberg today. It was once the seat of the manorial and sovereign mining administration for tin and iron ore mining in the...
The Schneeberg town hall is a large, classical building with a striking tower, which dominates the market square. Directly above the rounded-arch entrance is a large sandstone frieze dating from 1911/12 which tells the tale of the first discovery of ore in Schneeberg. Above the frieze is a large, colourful cast-iron relief showing the town’s coat of arms. The town hall is a detached building with four wings and a rectangular inner courtyard. Its front facade is decorated with pilaster strips. Attached to the gable end is the town hall’s tower, with a rectangular lower portion, octagonal upper portion, and a flat roof. Easily visible on the tower above the town’s coat of arms is a set of carillon bells made of Meißner porcelain. These were donated by the Schnorr family. Leaded windows painted with images of Schneeberg and representations of the various crafts can be enjoyed from inside the Town Hall, which was fundamentally redesigned in 1911/12. The names of donors are painted on the windows. There is also a painted coffered ceiling by Prof. Josef Goller. The ceiling of the central entrance hall is stuccoed. In the council hall is a large painting showing the Neustädtel mining landscape surrounding Schneeberg. It is by Carl Lange and was painted in the Domestic Revival style in 1937.
The building known as the Fürstenhaus is a stunning two-storey Baroque construction which was erected after the previous building on the site was destroyed in the fire of 1721. It is attributed to Johann Christian Naumann. The facade, which was destroyed in 1945 during the Second World War, was reconstructed between 1955 and 1957.
The Trinitatis Church is located at the north-western end of the Fürstenplatz. It is also known as the Hospital Church, referring to the hospital built around 1500 which used to stand beside it. The St. Trinitatis cemetery belongs to the church and now covers around three hectares. It is the central burial ground for the town of Schneeberg. It originally bordered on the hospital and was expanded in 1701, having been in use since 1529. Among the notable features of the graveyard are the epitaph of the metalwork magnate Paul Lobwasser († 1606) and the crypt belonging to the Schnorr von Carolsfeld family, constructed around 1800. The Trinitatis Church is a single-nave church. It was partly destroyed in the fire of 1719, but was rebuilt by 1739. Built of quarry stone, the church features a three-sided enclosed choir and a facade with two towers. The towers were built in 1846 in the historicist style and feature sharply pointed roofs. They were donated by the merchant Carl Hänel. The church is marked by the regular arched windows arranged between the buttresses. The nave features a wooden vaulted ceiling and single-storey galleries on three sides. The original furnishings of the church have not survived.
The two names of the Trögersche- or Schmeilhaus refer to its past owners—the first to a family of apothecaries in the 17th/18th century, one member of which was also a member of the city council, and the second to the publisher Karl Schmeil, who took over the Goedsche press in 1891. The two-story corner house at Fürstenplatz 1, a stone’s throw from the town hall, surrounds an irregular courtyard with round arches. Both outward-facing facades are extensively decorated with stucco (including flowers, leaves, scrollwork, cartouches, drapery, busts, lions and more). The stuccoed ceilings on the ground floor of the building have survived and been restored. The staircase ceiling features a groined vault. A slate mansard roof caps the building above the corner facades. After going through the main door on the Fürstenplatz, visitors arrive in a central entry hall typical of the Baroque style after 1720. The pale pink paint on the house complements the white stucco decoration.
The late-Gothic St. Wolfgang’s Church was commissioned by the elector Frederick the Wise and built between 1516 and 1540. It has shaped the town’s image ever since. A smaller, existing church structure, dating from sometime after 1470, was incorporated into the building. It had been founded alongside Schneeberg mining town in response to the discovery of large ore deposits. The construction of the church was funded by a mining tax levied on the mineworkers and pit owners. In the 17th/18th century, the church was renovated in the Baroque style. It was heavily damaged during the fire that ravaged the town of Schneeberg in 1719, but was subsequently reconstructed. The church was almost completely destroyed again during an air raid in April 1945. Only the outer walls remained standing. Starting in 1952, both the interior and exterior of the church were partially reconstructed using the historic building materials. By 1996, the artistically, culturally, and historically important altar had been restored and could be rededicated.
The administration and assembly building of the Gesellschaft mine, built in 1830, is the largest and most distinctive building of its kind in the Schneeberg mining district. The two-storey house is completely built in a half-timbered style. It features a large hipped and gabled roof with two levels, as well as two rows of regular dormer windows. The west gable end is completely boarded over. The windows have been completely renovated and the casements have been given a protective coat of green paint. The wooden shutters that once hung on the ground-floor windows have not survived. Since 1947, rooms in the house have been used as working and business rooms. The house has also been used for residential purposes. After 1995, the surviving structural elements were incorporated in the exemplary renovation, which was carried out in compliance with monument protection.
The mine forge was built as a long, low, and sturdy single-storey building with two hearths in 1839. From 1947, it was converted for use as a residential home. The construction year is marked above the entrance. Both the roof and gable ends are clad with shingles. The original windows of the 16-bay mine forge, including the removable double windows used for insulation in winter, have survived to the present day.
The Gesellschaft mine well house, a cistern, was probably installed in the retaining walls of the waste heap during the 19th century. From the outside, the octagonal building with unplastered walls and a slate roof looks similar to a powder house.
The mine’s administration and assembly building is a single-story house which was originally built entirely in a half-timbered style. It has a tall slate mansard roof with two levels, and there is a slight angle at the centre of the construction. On the side of the building facing away from the shaft, only the back of the house retains remnants of the half-timbering. The gable and left side of the front section have been completely rebuilt in solid masonry. The half-timbering can still be seen on the shaft-facing front section of the building. There are mansard dormer windows on the front and back sides of both levels of the hipped mansard roof. The north-east half is roofed with slate and the south-west side with asphalt roofing-board shingles. The house gables are covered with planks. There are six modern-style tilt-and-turn windows, as well as a new front door. The windowsills are no longer extant.
The stamp mill with underground stamp wheelhouse is a two-storey half-timbered structure built between 1816 and 1818. The two-level gabled roof features two rows of dormer windows on each side. On the side of the stamp mill not facing the shaft there is a small bell tower with a surviving clock mechanism. The stamp mill itself was supplied with energy from the underground stamp wheel by means of two hading shafts, via the shaft paths that end inside the mill. The division of the interior spaces is fundamentally unchanged.
Silver ore and later bismuth, cobalt and nickel ores were extracted in the Weißer Hirsch mine, first mentioned in the 17th century. It took on a central role in 1880 when several mines were united to form the Schneeberg cobalt field in order to extract ores for blue pigment production. The mine...
In order to supply the Schneeberg and Schlema smelteries with urgently needed timber, a timber transport ditch measuring approximately 15 kilometres was constructed between 1556 and 1559. It begins at the Rechenhaus (rake house) in Albernau, where it is fed water from the river Zwickauer Mulde. The...
When the Reformation was introduced to Saxony by Duke Heinrich “the Pious”, a parish church was erected between 1536 and 1537. It was not situated on an exposed site directly by the marketplace, as was still customary in the Middle Ages, but a little further away. Between 1558 and 1564, construction took place of a three-naved late-Gothic hall church with seven bays, under the direction of the master stonemason Wolf Blechschmidt, from Pirna. It was modelled on the large parish churches of Annaberg, Schneeberg and Pirna. In 1610, in the biggest blaze in Marienberg’s history, the church burned down, leaving only the outer walls, the tower and the sacristy intact. It was rebuilt in 1616, and again from 1667 to 1675. It measures 56 m along its entire outer length, and the tower stands 60 m tall. Inside, the church boasts significant early Baroque style fittings displaying Italian influences, hailing from different centuries. There is also a splendid Schubert organ.
Built in 1545, this is the only remaining town gate out of an original five. Until 1684, it contained a mining bell that would ring out to signal it was time to change shifts. This was relocated to the church tower in 1684. The outside of the gate still bears the notches where the portcullis used to be. Walking through the gate, rings can be seen for the outer and inner gate, marking the point where the gate’s hinges were once attached. The Schnitzerheim (wood carving workshop and display) that now adjoins the gate was once a guardroom. Guards would patrol the town walls, and, depending on the time of year, the town gates would open at different times. The gate tower has four levels. From 1966 to 2006, it housed a Museum of Local History, which is now located in the mining store house as the Museum sächsisch-böhmisches Erzgebirge (Museum of the Saxon-Bohemian Ore Mountains). Today, the tower is used for cultural events.
The wall encircling the mining town of Marienberg was first built between 1541 and 1566, and did not follow the original town layout in the south or north. Ditches filled with water were positioned in front of it. The wall, which today only survives as a short section by the Zschopauer Tor (Zschopau Gate) and the Roter Turm (Red Tower), was constructed using local quarry stone with chalk. It had flying buttresses facing the town side to stabilise it. In the 19th century, most of the wall, three of the towers and four of the gates were torn down. Of the five gates originally built into the long sides of the Marienberg town wall, only the Zschopauer Tor (Zschopau Gate), built in 1545, survives. The Roter Turm (Red Tower) is the last remaining tower in Marienberg town wall.
The central building in the Sauberg main and pilot shaft complex is the shaft building. The three-storey building was first erected during the sinking of the main and pilot shaft in 1855 and was remodelled on several occasions. The ground and first floor are made of rendered brick masonry. The second floor and the gable have a half-timbered construction and are partly filled in. The half-timbering was later overlaid with wood. Today, this overlay is covered with imitation shingles. In 1964/65, the gabled roof of the building was expanded with a headframe enclosure. The original headframe was replaced by a modern construction which came into operation in 1966.
These quarry-stone ruins represent what remains of the former Morgenröth engine house, which was in use until approximately 1825. In 1872, the sorting house was converted into an ore storage building. This was demolished in 1925, leaving only the foundations visible today.
The cultural centre is the newest building of the Sauberg main and pilot shaft complex, as well as the building with the largest surface area. It was constructed in 1955. The entrance and the stairwell above it slightly jut out from the rest of the building. The stairwell windows are large and are matched by glass doors in the same style on the ground floor. This front part of the building is made of unplastered brick masonry. The windowsills and door frames are red. There are two further notable elements to the cultural centre. Firstly, there is a mural of a mining scene which covers the entire wall opposite the entrance on the ground floor. The second notable feature is found on the upper floor: an event hall which has been preserved in its original state. The hall’s furnishings reflect its original 1950s character. Solar panels have been added to the south-east side of the roof of the cultural centre. When the building was renovated, the roof was tiled with black slate.
This building now houses the museum for the visitors’ mine and the Sauberg Klause café. It was built as a metalworking shop or forge in 1916 and was later used as a storage and administrative building. The single-storey building has a row of evenly-spaced windows of two different types on the side facing the street, as well as an entryway fronted by stairs. On the south side of the building is an entrance with a wooden double door surrounded by wooden cladding. The hipped roof of the building features four roofed dormers and a shed dormer on the street-facing side.
The miners’ memorial is a tower-like structure. It was newly erected by the miners’ burial association in 2003 using quarry-stone building techniques. The memorial recreates the Oswald Barthel Tower, which stood on the grounds from 1928 until 1985. Inside the tower are plaques bearing the names of miners from the Ehrenfriedersdorf mining district who met with fatal accidents in the course of their work.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lengefeld Lime Works documents the development of the binding-materials industry in the Erzgebirge from the 16th century to the 20th century. The monument complex is of outstanding importance and enables wide-ranging insights into the history of lime mining, processing and dressing, as well as the...
The Grüner Graben water ditch, which still carries water today and is largely preserved in its original condition, is one of the most important witnesses for silver and tin mining in the area around Pobershau. It is a prime example for the water management systems in the Marienberg mining area....
The only completely preserved, water-powered historical Reifendrehwerk and the Miners’ Church in Seiffen record the move from mining to woodwork in the upper Erzgebirge from the 18th century, and the emergence of Erzgebirge woodcraft, now world-famous, as a following up industry. Reifendrehen, a...
As one of the best-preserved paper mills and cardboard factories in Germany, Niederzwönitz Paper Mill is representative of paper production as a supplier of the mining industry. With the expansion of mining administration and the resulting written correspondence, the mill started producing vat paper...
Wismut’s imposing head office in Chemnitz was built in 1954 as part of the conversion of the Soviet corporation Wismut to a Soviet-German corporation (SDAG). The two monumental neoclassical main buildings played a vital role within this centre. The building at 50 Jagdschänkenstraße is the head...
The Erlabrunn miners’ hospital is an example of the social facilities that were created in connection with uranium ore mining in the western Erzgebirge. Inaugurated in May 1951 as the first new hospital built under the GDR, it exemplifies the intensity of uranium ore mining following the Second...
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.