Annaberg mining town is an example of the planned foundation of an important silver ore mining town in the central Ore Mountains at the end of the 15th century. In 1496, surveying began for the town designed by (amongst others) Ulrich Rülein von Calw (1465-1523). By the first half of the 16th century, Annaberg had become the second largest town in Saxony (after Freiberg) with around a third of the inhabitants working in the more than 700 mines in the vicinity. The town was established in direct vicinity to the mining sites at the Frohnau and Pöhlberg mining landscapes as well as above the silver mines on the northern slope of the Pöhlberg (mountain).
Annaberg was (after Schneeberg) the second important mining centre founded during the second (early modern) silver mining period in the Ore Mountains. The established planned layout was to a major extent adapted to the difficult topography.
The mine workings of Gößner mine (named after Andreas Gößner, owner of the mining district around 1510) are located beneath Annaberg Mining Town, directly opposite St Anne’s Church of 1499-1525. The mine represents a typical early modern mining enterprise, of which many characterize the sub-surface of the mining towns of the Ore Mountains. Since 1995 this mine has been made publicly accessible via a new visitors’ shaft that accesses small and narrow workings (some enlarged for the visitor route) that date from around 1490. These comprise impressive internal shafts (ten shafts/winzes, some with clear accompanying rock-cut evidence for hand windlass platforms) sunk on the ‘underlie’ (incline) of the lode for around 24m, together with drives of around 260 m along the strike of the lode, and crosscuts, on two levels connected by the winzes. A number of stopes and lode exposures illustrate the system of working.
Considerable mining activities conducted in the area surrounding the town generated surges of revenue which enabled the construction of important sacred buildings.
The Annaberg town church of St. Anne’s (1499 to 1525) is one of the most important late Gothic buildings in Saxony. A prominent location in the established planned layout had already been determined for the future town church. The church exhibits several distinctive structural features. It was built as a hall church with three naves; its pillars have no supporting function. The portal to the old sacristy, built in 1518, is considered an outstanding example of one the oldest Renaissance portals in Saxony. The altars were installed during the 1520s. The mining altar shows on its back unique paintings of the mining activities and the mining landscape around Annaberg in the early 16th century. Numerous epitaphs are to be found in the church, including those by prominent mining figures.
Today, St. Anne’s church features its original 16th century condition.
Another important church in the historic centre of Annaberg is St. Mary’s miners’ church. Located on the north-western side of the marketplace in Annaberg, St. Mary’s church is the only church in the Ore Mountains exclusively financed by a miners’ guild. Up to the end of mining, the miners’ church was used exclusively for devotion to God by the miners as well as for miners’ church services on quarter days of the mining calendar and on mining holidays. The church was destroyed several times by fire and its current design and fabric dates to 1736. The remarkable historic inventory of the church includes the Bergmannskanzel (miners’ pulpit) and the historic Knappschaftsgestühl (miners’ guild seating).
Important administrative buildings and secular buildings include the mining office and numerous town houses, some subsequently put to other uses that are directly or indirectly connected with mining. They contain references to personalities such as the mathematician Adam Ries (1492/93-1559), the Saxon and Bohemian mint master Lazarus Ercker (1528/30-1594) and the entrepreneurial mining family Uthmann. Many of the owners of town houses in Annaberg were mining entrepreneurs or officials.