Bergwerk Freiberg Mine Tour
Besucherbergwerk Freiberg, Saxony, Germany
ABOVE: The headframe and hoist house at the TU
Bergakademie Freiberg's teaching and research mine.
Silver mining has a long
tradition in Saxony: The first silver ore was discovered around 1168 AD, and by
the 16th Century, mining in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) had turned Saxony
into one of Europe's wealthiest kingdoms. The Baroque spendors of
Dresden were financed by Saxon silver, which was
extracted from the rock beneath Freiberg until well
into the 20th Century. (Today, nearly 2,000 km or 1,250 miles of mine
tunnels--mostly abandoned--zigzag through the hard stone beneath the town of
In 1765, during the heyday of silver, the
Universitšt Bergakademie Freiberg was founded as a
teaching and research center for the mining industry. The TU has grown into a
university whose scope goes far beyond digging or drilling for ore, but it
remains the world's oldest school of mining--and it still operates a teaching and research mine on the
outskirts of Freiberg.
As a tourist, you can visit the
Bergwerk Freiberg, which offers a
variety of guided mine tours for individuals and groups. Our advice:
- Pick a tour that matches your abilities.
Children between 6 and 12 years old, elderly visitors,
and wheelchair users should choose the "Underground Trail" option. Most
visitors from ages 12-72 will be happy with the 1.5-hour tour or the
slightly more strenous 2.5-hour "adventure tour." A five-hour "Special
Tour" is offered on the first Saturday of the month and is recommended only
for visitors in good physical condition who are willing to climb ladders.
- Don't take a tour if you're
claustrophobic or uncomfortable in the dark. Tours require
descending 150 meters (nearly 500 feet) underground in a mine hoist, walking
in narrow tunnels, and--for some tours--riding in a cramped compartment on a
mine train. Most people will enjoy the experience, but if you're
uncomfortable in close quarters, we suggest sticking with the
hiking path above ground.
For more information, visit
besucherbergwerk-freiberg.de and click the navigation links for "Guided
Tours" and "Opening Times/Prices."
To see captioned photos of an underground mine tour, go to
page 2 of this article.
More Bergwerk Freiberg Mine
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and The Washington Post
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