Marienberg Mining Town


Historical records of ore mining in the Ore Mountains begin in 1168, when silver ores were discovered in the vicinity of today's Freiberg. More than 800 years of mining history of the Ore Mountains are based on this discovery.

The mining town of Marienberg is located on a mountain plateau several kilometres east of the Zschopau (river) valley and directly north above the Schlettenbach (beck) valley and surrounded by more modern urban settlement structures. The building of the mining store house (Bergmagazin) is situated to the west outside of the historic town centre.
Marienberg was for a time the last important mining town, founded in the second main period of silver ore mining in the Saxon Ore Mountains. Albertine Duke Henry the Pious (1473-1541) established the mining town of Marienberg in 1521 as a result of the newly flourishing silver ore mining.

The mining town of Marienberg is an outstanding example of the planned creation of a mining town at the beginning of the 16th century. Regular urban layout, including the ordering of the most important buildings, is in accordance with the theoretical architectural principles of town planning in the Renaissance, used here for the first time in the founding of a city north of the Alps.

While the urban layout of Annaberg followed the medieval grid system by adapting it to the topographical situation of the place the urban layout of Marienberg followed the theoretical architectural principles of town planning of the Renaissance by a rectangular construction on a levelled and accurate measured territory. The planned foundation of Marienberg marked the high point of the development of mining towns in the Ore Mountains and formed the model for the later foundation of other planned mining towns especially in the Bohemian part of the Ore Mountains, such as Boží Dar (1533), Horní Blatná (1534), Hora Svatého Šebestiána (c. 1540) or Výsluní (c. 1545). Its preserved structures illustrate the function of the town as an administrative, social and cultural centre for silver ore mining from the early 16th to the late 19th century as well as of additional tin and copper ore mining and the short period of uranium mining in the middle of the 20th century.

Selected sacred and secular buildings, including town houses and administrative buildings, represent the direct connections between the urban development and mining. In the following decades, several buildings and structures were constructed, including the Renaissance town hall, the administrative mining office, the mining storehouse, the late Gothic hall Church of St. Marien as well as the town wall with its five gates and four towers.

One particularity of the Marienberg town layout was the building of a stately house at the Marienberg marketplace, immediately next to the town hall. As early as the first half of the 16th century, this is named as a royal house or town castle and, in accordance with its importance, is described as an extraordinary and prestigious building. It may have gained its dominant styling as the Renaissance castle of the town only after its restoration following its first destruction in the town fire of 1610. The placement of the royal house in a central position within the town structure, at the marketplace, is seen as an innovation, and is attributed to the political theory of Italian Humanism.

With the Lindenhäuschen (house) a typical miners’ house from the first half of the 16th century is preserved.

The Bergmagazin (mining storehouse), built between 1806 and 1809 outside the historic town centre, is the last remaining example of this form of building that once existed in various towns in the Ore Mountains.