Halsbrücke Smeltery


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.

Taken over by the sovereign prince in the early 17th century, the Halsbrücke smeltery was, along with the Muldenhütten smeltery one of the three principal metallurgical sites located in the Freiberg mining area. The Halsbrücke smeltery gradually became one of the most important smelting locations in the Ore Mountains and is associated with pioneering innovations. The cold amalgamation of silver with the aid of mercury (1791-1794) was performed here for the first time on the industrial scale. One of the first gas works on the European continent was installed here in 1816, allowing Professor Wilhelm August Lampadius (1772-1842) to illuminate the plant. Furthermore, a specific – yet unusual - feature of the smelting place was a spa which used hot slag, and was known as a ‘slag bath’. This made for good health spa businesses, setting an example for many other European slag baths. In the 19th century the construction of new metallurgical plants and processing facilities expanded the complex considerably. The plant’s connection to the railway network in 1890 was of major importance. The processing of local ores was ultimately replaced by the processing of foreign-based materials, ensuring metallurgical operations could continue even after mining ceased. Smelting continues at various, independent plants in Halsbrücke.

Included in the property are the slag bath, a two-storey rubble-stone structure with half-hipped roof (the capstone above the front door bears the year 1804 and the monogram of its builder, Johann Ernst Spiess); and, opposite the Halsbrücke smeltery, to the east, the remains of the fire station aqueduct (built 1796) of the former silver-amalgamation plant, together with four smeltery workers’ houses designed as two-storey half-timbered structures. In the buffer zone, the remains of the silver-amalgamation plant and the still working production sites are encompassed.