From Eisenach, A4 exit 39 weat follow B84 south west to Dorndorf, turn left to Merkers onto B62.
A4 exit 33 Friedewald, B62 18km east to Vacha, turn left onto B62, 7km to Merkers.
A7 exit 91 Fulda Nord, B84 19km north east to Nünfeld, turn right onto B84 to Vacha, B62 7km to Merkers.
All year Tue-Sun 9:30, 13:30.
Prebooking is advisable. Additional tours after appointment.
MAR to NOV:
Adults EUR 20, Children (17-18) EUR 15, Children (10-16) EUR 12, Family (2+1) EUR 46, additional Child EUR 8.
Groups: Adults (10+) EUR 18, Adults (20+) EUR 17, Adults (30+) EUR 16.50, Children (17-19) EUR 13, Children (10-16) EUR 11.
DEC to FEB: Adults EUR 18, Children (17-18) EUR 13, Children (10-16) EUR 11, Family (2+1) EUR 41, additional Child EUR 6.
Groups: Adults (10+) EUR 17, Adults (20+) EUR 16, Adults (30+) EUR 15, Children (17-19) EUR 12, Children (10-16) EUR 10.
|Classification:||Salt Mine Vault Potassium mine|
|Guided tours:||D=3h. V=70,000/a  V=80,000/a |
|Address:||K+S KALI GmbH, Erlebnis Bergwerk Merkers, Postfach 1163, D-36267 Philippsthal, Tel: +49-3695-614101, Fax: +49-3695-612472. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1980||Kristallgrotte (Crystal Grotto) discovered.|
This is only one mine in the Werra-Fulda-Kalirevier, a huge deposit of potassium between the rivers Werra and Fulda. It has a size of about 1,000 square kilometers and goes from Berka in the north to Fulda in the south, Bad Salzungen in the east and Bad Hersfeld in the west. During the Zechstein era (Perm, about 230 Ma) this area was a huge depression, cut off from the sea. the water was warm and dry, arid, desert like. Either continually or through a narrow strait sea water flew into the depression, where the water evaporated. The salt in the sea water was deposited. This theory was developed by the geologist Ochsenius many years ago and is still the most likely one.
The salt is covered by a layer of Werra-Ton (clay), which is water resistant. It protects the soluble salt and anhydrite from being dissolved. The salt layers are several hundred meters high in some places.
The Merkers mine was not only an enormous mine for potassium, but it was once used as a bunker for the gold treasure of the German state. Today the mine is abandoned and used as a so called Erlebnisbergwerk (experience mine). A tour is very interesting but also rather long and strenuous. And the number of tours is small, so prebooking is essential.
The visitor enters the mine through the elevator going down to sublevel two at 500m below ground. The temperature is here 20 to 28°C, so warm clothes are definitely not necessary! Now the tour through the mine begins. Because of the enormous size the visitors are riding to the different sights on pickup trucks.
First stop is the underground mining museum, showing the history of potassium mining along the Werra river. Nearby mines at Kaiserroda and Heiligenroda are mentioned, also the brine springs at Salzungen. Many items of the exhibiton may be touched and explored by the visitors, which makes the visit a special experience.
The so-called Großbunker is a huge chamber, which was excavated 1989 to store up to 50,000 tons of salt. It contains the biggest excavator which exists underground. It was completely built underground. The hall is 250m long, 22m wide and 14m high. It was used to store salt. The mining capapcity was higher than the conveying capapcity, so some salt was stored at thie chamber from Monday to Friday. On weekends only two miners worked in the mine, which were mainaining the conveying of the already mined salt.
The next stop has a very special history. This hall was used to store gold in the year 1945. The gold und devices of the Deutsche Reichsbank (German Empire Bank) were stored here for some weeks.
The geologic path shows various specialties of the local geology. A main topic is the volcanism of this area called Rhön. There are several dykes cutting through the mine, which are easily visible alon the path. But big mining machinery is also an important topic of this section.
The highlight of every tour is the Kristallgrotte (Crystal Grotto), a huge chamber filled with enormous salt crystals. The biggest crystals are more than 1m long. Salt forms cubic crstals, which are bright like diamonds.