Himmelfahrt Fundgrube Mine


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The Himmelfahrt Fundgrube (mine) became the largest ore mine in the Freiberg area, and was the most productive mine in the history of the Ore Mountains. It was, indeed, one of Germany’s major non-ferrous metal mines of the 18th century onwards. The Himmelfahrt Fundgrube stretches from south of Halsbrücke to the south of Freiberg and from the Mulde river in the east to the Freiberg mining town in the west. The area was early characterised by industrial areas and the urban structures of Freiberg. Additionally, agricultural landscapes are located in juxtaposition with the main ore lodes of the Himmelfahrt Fundgrube (mine). The selected mines are spread over the area and functionally combined by the historic underground installations. The landscape is characterized by pit installations, heaps and the descent of the terrain down to the Mulde River where the portals of the oldest drainage adits of the Freiberg mines are located.

Various water-adits were constructed from the Mulde valley to drain the mines, some being crucial for the mines over the centuries, and still functioning today. A large number of parallel silver lodes were mined here up to the 20th century, mainly striking from northeast to southwest but also crossing from northwest to southeast. Hundreds of small mines were established during the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Times. Even today the heap rows of the former shafts characterise this mining landscape, evidence of the way in which countless small mines from the Middle Ages and Early Modern Era developed in the 19th century into one of the largest and most modern combined mines in the world. By the middle of the 19th century this covered an area of 5 km x 6 km, now known as the Himmelfahrt Fundgrube (mine). The remarkable development started in the area around the Abraham shaft; an original small mining claim that expanded to a significant size from the second third of the 19th century, eventually sprawling as far as Halsbrücke in the north, Muldenhütten in the east, and the Zug mining district in the south. More than 300 predecessor mines can be traced for this area, from the 16th century onwards mostly small, independent mines. It was not until the 19th century that numerous powerful, modern shaft and processing systems were introduced as part of modernisation and centralisation. Between 1840 and 1896, silver output totalled 448 tonnes, and made the Himmelfahrt Fundgrube (mine) one of the largest silver mines in Europe with, temporarily, more than 2,400 miners.

Together with the adjacent mining town of Freiberg and the associated Muldenhütten smeltery the landscape bears remarkable evidence for the social, administrative, educational, technological and scientific developments of mining in the Ore Mountains from the 12th to the 20th century. Of special importance to mining technology is the tangible evidence, and intangible value, of the educational system of the Freiberg Mining Academy (1765/66), its related teaching and research mines, its associated scientific work, as well as the Freiberg miners’ school (1777).

The landscape documents with its underground and aboveground structures all stages of the silver mining, processing and smelting in the Ore Mountains from the 12th to the 20th century.