I have never been in a real silver and copper ore mine. In the Black Forest there is the Freudenstadt visitor mine, which we were allowed to visit.
The history of the Three Kings Mine
In the region around Freudenstadt, there is evidence of ores containing copper and silver in the rock. Around 1530, an ore mine was built in Freudenstadt in the hope of finding silver. Over the years, the desired metal was found, but it was so bound in the stone that it had to be melted down. It was used to make silver talers. Copper ores were also discovered in the mine and traces of manganese were found at the end of the mining period.
Mining in Freudenstadt ended in 1780.
Yes, and then the mine was forgotten for many years. Although areas far above (then used as beer and wine cellars) were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War, the main shaft was bricked up during construction without further exploration.
The mine existed for almost 250 years and lay hidden.
It was not until 1996 that the entrance to the shaft was found again. The galleries were explored for three years, and since 1999 the visitor mine has been open to the public. In the meantime, large parts of the mine have been opened up.
Freudenstadt Visitor Mine – Our Visit
We enter the mine through a gate.
The mood for mining already begins here. A miner is depicted on the gate, wearing the typical miners’ costume when going to church.
We learn that the miners in Freudenstadt had a very special position. They were employed by the duke, had a house at their disposal and did not have to pay any taxes. Even in church there were seats reserved especially for them.
Then we stand in a still quite wide corridor, are given a hard hat and a cape to protect our jackets a little. We are told to hang the bags on a coat rack, later we will be grateful for this instruction.
While we are preparing for our visit and already learning something about the mine, I discover a statue.
Here stands Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travellers in the mine. Actually, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners. In Freudenstadt it is different. The miners came to the town as travellers and brought their patron saint with them. So he remained their patron saint underground as well.
Air raid shelter in the Freudenstadt visitor mine
First we go to the former air raid shelter. You are now only allowed to visit it at certain times because bats have taken up residence here. So far, for example, the greater mouse-eared bat and the mouse-eared bat have been sighted here.
We are standing in a relatively large room. The entire bunker area has a size of 487 m2, which actually sounds quite large, but the idea that 500 people stayed here puts the size into perspective enormously.
An additional problem of the bunker room was that when the snow started to melt, the entire room became wet. This made the stay much more unpleasant.
Today the room is empty and only in a small corner is a small part of an extensive collection of minerals that illustrates the geology of the region.
Discovery of the mine
For an annual celebration, the air-raid shelter was to be made accessible as an attraction. In the corridor leading to the room, one passed a wall that did not fit in at all with the rest of the corridor. So they decided to find out why a wall had been built there.
They discovered a shaft filled with overburden that led into the mine. Little by little, the shaft was cleared.
Yes, and then we also set out to discover the mine. And now came what I had only seen on a photo and had not really believed. We put on gloves and climbed down a metal ladder into the depths.
If you want to visit this mine, you really shouldn’t be claustrophobic, afraid of heights and have a certain level of physical fitness. It is not a leisurely walk, it is adventure!
The descent into the mine
The mine consists of three areas.
From the entrance to the mountain, a staircase leads down 6 metres. Here you come to the first reel chamber (equipment with which the material was pulled up on a kind of winch). From here you can look down the shaft through a grate – or climb further down. There is another metal ladder leading 30 metres down. Even though it was a strange feeling, I wanted to go down there. At a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius throughout and very high humidity (95% when the snow melts), miners had descended here on wooden ladders years before me. They didn’t have electric light back then, only burning pit lamps, so I should be able to do it too.
No looking down – and off we went!
At the bottom we are standing in a narrow shaft, which in some places is not even my 1.60 m height.
Here, the date 1556 was discovered, and so the age of the shaft can be easily determined. At the end of a passage, water emerges from the rock and seeps back into the ground. The walls are clayey and damp.
At the other end of the passage, another shaft leads into the depths. It is about 18 metres long, but cannot be entered. For a while there was a wooden platform from which one could look down into the depths. This has fallen victim to the conditions underground and has collapsed in a weathered state.
I am honestly quite satisfied as we start the climb up. It is narrow, it is damp and I can hardly imagine what it must have been like down here in the past. Children and men were working here for up to 13 hours. Because of the burning lamps and the hard physical work – the passages were only carved out with wedges and pointed wedges – it must have been warm.
Back in the entrance area today, I’m glad we weren’t down there for 13 hours. I found the tour very exciting and informative. Not only did we learn a lot about the history of the mine, but we also learned a lot.
Straßburger Straße 57
1 May – end October
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 14-17 hrs
Level 1 – no minimum age
Entrance area with showcases, 35-metre-long, level gallery walkway, etc.
(duration about 20-30 minutes): 1,50€.
Level 2 – minimum age 10 years
in addition to level 1 descent via ladder 6 metres
(total duration about 30-45 minutes): 2,-€
Level 3 – minimum age 12 years
in addition to level 1+2 descent 30 metres
(duration in total about 45-60 minutes): 3,-€
Sturdy shoes required! Insensitive clothing is recommended!
Disclosure: The visit to the visitor mine in Freudenstadt was an item on the programme of our blogger trip to Freudenstadt and Lossburg. The report was written independently and corresponds to our impressions.