Besucherbergwerk Zinnwald

Besucherbergwerk "Vereinigt Zwitterfeld zu Zinnwald"

Useful Information

Location: South of Dresden close to the Czech border. From B170 (E 55) Dresden-Prag turn off at Zinnwald-Georgenfeld towards Geising. Signposted "Parkplatz Besucherbergwerk".
(50.741022, 13.766060)
Open: All year Wed-Sat 10:30, 12, 13:30, 15.
Fee: Adults EUR 9, Children (6-16) EUR 6, School Pupils EUR 6, Students EUR 6, Disabled EUR 6, Families (2+*) EUR 24.
Groups (15+): School Pupils EUR 4.50.
Classification: MineTin Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=8 °C
Guided tours: D=90 min, max. 30 persons
Accessibility: yes
Address: Besucherbergwerk "Vereinigt Zwitterfeld zu Zinnwald", OT Zinnwald Georgenfeld, Goetheweg 8, 01773 Altenberg, Tel: +49-35056-31344, Fax: +49-35056-23278- E-mail: contact
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.


1754 visited by Fr. A. von Heynitz.
1791 visited by Alexander von Humboldt.
1813 visited by J. W. von Goethe.
1846 Beginning of the mining of wolframite.
1890 Start of mining of lithium mica.
1917 Large mining forge built.
1945 Mining on German side ends.
1990 Municipality of Zinnwald-Georgenfeld decides to have the technical monuments with the colliery house and the miners' forge restored as a show mine.
NOV-1990 Mining on the Czech side stopped.
18-JUN-1992 Tiefer Bünau Stollen is opened as a show mine.


The subsoil in the vicinity of Zinnwald consists of granite, quartz and granite porphyry as well as basalt. Due to fracture tectonics during the Variscan mountain building around 300 million years ago, volcanic-magmatic phenomena occurred and ore deposits were formed in all these rocks except the basalt. The ores are diverse, but the tin deposits were particularly important for the economy. This is where the name Zinnwald (Tin Forest) comes from. They were formed along a pre-existing deep fault that was reactivated in the Upper Carboniferous (310Ma). This resulted in lava outpouring of the Teplitz quartz porphyry. The surface of the earth, which consisted of gneiss and phyllite, was overlain by a porphyry layer. A granite body, the Zinnwald granite, penetrated into this in the Lower Rotliegende (280Ma). The formation of the ores is a result of the gradual cooling of the lava.

In the so-called pneumatolytic phase, gases and vapours enriched with metal compounds were released. The metals were deposited in the surrounding rock as oxides, especially tin oxide. These ores are called Zwitter by the miner, and the mass deposits Zwitterstock. They also precipitated in rock fissures and formed tin veins. In veins, the tin content is higher, but the recoverable ore quantities are smaller. The Zinnwald veins are closely stacked and were called "seams" by the miners because of their almost horizontal orientation. Mining targeted both, the Zwitterstöcke and the ore veins.

The ores contained, among other things, tungsten, for which no use was known for centuries. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that people learned to use tungsten to produce particularly hard tungsten steel. Around 1846, mining of wolframite began in Zinnwald. From 1890, lithium mica was mined, which is used to alloy aluminium for aircraft construction.

The mine was also the source of various minerals. Cassiterite, wolframite, and Zinnwaldite with quartz are quite common on the veins.


In Zinnwald, interested visitors will find the Vereinigt Zwitterfeld show mine and the Huthaus mining museum. The name of the show mine is easily explained by the geology of the area; Zwitter is simply the mining name for the tin mineralization prevalent here. In the heyday of mining, the border between Germany and Bohemia was more permeable than in later times. In fact, today's border between Germany and the Czech Republic, goes right through the middle of the village. The German part is called Zinnwald, the Czech Cínovec. This is also how mining was carried out on both sides. The inevitably created underground connecting routes between Saxony and Bohemia also proved at times to be suitable routes for paschen, smuggling. Today the two parts of the Ore Mountains are united, at least for the UNESCO WHL list. These days, one notices little of the Schengen internal border, unless refugees or Covid-19 are threatening.

Mining began in the middle of the 15th century. How it came about is told in the following legend.

The Shaft of the Three Wondrous Heads in Zinnwald

In Graupen, three brothers once ran an extensive mine as their own labourers and became wealthy. However, the sudden disappearance of the ore vein required high and unfortunately fruitless expenditures, so that the wealth disappeared. Then one night the mountain spirit appeared to all three brothers in a dream and told them to give up their futile efforts and to go on their way towards midnight, where they would be richly rewarded. They followed the advice. When they had walked a few hours, they found Zwitter standing in the dense forest. They argued back and forth whether this was the right place to strike or whether it would be advisable to go on. When they couldn't make up their minds, the mountain spirit suddenly reappeared as a mountain gnome, said only: "But you are three wondrous heads" and then disappeared again. The three brothers now knew what they had to do; they struck a blow and had rich pickings. They called the shaft "Zu drei Wunderköpfen" (To Three Wondrous Heads).

It was the first shaft in the Zinnwald mining district; it still exists today and is called the "Köpfenschacht" for short. These three men were the founders of Zinnwald, as other miners from Graupen soon arrived because of the great tin wealth. They called their settlement "Der Zinnwald" because the whole forest was rich in tin. According to an old report, the Zwitter contained so much tin that if you threw a stone at a cow in the meadow, it was more valuable than the cow.

According to Wächter.

The first written mention of mining refers to the Bohemian part of the deposit. The largest part of the camp is also located on this side. On the Saxon side, tin ore mining did not begin until the second half of the 16th century, more than a century later. Until the middle of the 19th century, mining was limited to the extraction of tin ore.

The Zinnwald mine was under the control of the Lauenstein landlords, who owned the lower mining rights and maintained vassal mines like the one in Neugeising. From 1464 to 1490, the Lauenstein dominion belonged to Hans Müntzer and from 1490 to 1505 to Stephan Alnpeck. Both were members of Freiberg council families and were particularly involved in the Altenberg mining industry. From 1517 to 1821, most of the profits from mining in Zinnwald went to the von Bünau family at Lauenstein Castle.

The guided tour of the show mine begins in the technical monument Zechenhaus, the former mining forge. On the ground floor, a small exhibition informs visitors about the geology and history of Zinnwald. The upper floor houses a photo exhibition, which is mainly limited to historical photos from the period between 1906 and 1940. In the open space next to the building, there is a lapidarium and an exhibition of ore processing machinery. Visitors are provided with helmets, lights and oilskins for the tour. The mouth of the tunnel is located in the building.

The Deep Bünau Adit was started in 1686 and served as an inheritance gallery. To this day, it drains the mine water from the Bohemian and Saxon parts of the deposit. After a good 500 metres of travel, you reach the national border at a depth of 77 metres. Two large-scale wide systems created by the mining of massive ore bodies are located here. The Reichtroster Weitung, which was drilled and blasted in the 18th and 19th centuries, bears witness to the skill of the miners. It contains a so-called mountain lake and, due to its size, is often used for concerts and other events. In the neighbouring Schwarzwänder Weitung, which is mostly on Bohemian territory, the Protestant Geising pastor Heinrich Kauderbach is said to have secretly preached to Bohemian miners who were parishioners of Geising in 1728 - during the time of the Counter-Reformation. Today the border to the Czech Republic is built here underground.

When walking through the gallery, visitors can see a number of very shallow veins up to one metre thick. These ore veins are called Flöze (seams) in Zinnwald, and their main components are quartz, tinstone and wolframite. The peculiar type of deposit associated with a granite intrusion elevated the Zinnwald deposit to an international object of study for mineralogists and geologists, especially in the 18th century. Teachers and students of the Mining Academy studied the conditions on site during scientific trips. Even J. W. von Goethe pursued the questions about the formation of the granites and the peculiarity of the tin formation during his visit in 1813.

"It is only that nature has chosen to proceed differently in each of these four places with the ordering and depositing, in that she sometimes disperses the metal in large mountain masses, as happened in Schlaggenwalde, but even more so in Altenberg, sometimes that she deposits it in narrow passages and deposits vertically as in Graupen, horizontally as in Zinnwald. If we hold fast to these concepts, we will find our way through the labyrinth into which nature, which can never be completely unravelled, lures us so kindly and seductively.
J. W. von Goethe (1813)

For centuries, the wolframite was considered a nuisance for tin ore processing and smelting. But in 1783, the Spanish brothers Fausto and Joseph D'Elhuyar isolated a previously unknown metal from the tin wolframite. They called it tungsten. The two were students of Abraham Gottlob Werner at the Freiberg Mining Academy and the Swedish mineralogist and chemist T. Bergmann. In 1785, R. E. Raspe realized that it was a possible steel refiner. Nevertheless, it was not until 1880 that tungsten became usable on a large scale.

Other places of interest are the historic Saxon Rider inn and the worthwhile small museum in the Huthaus of Vereinigt Zwitterfeld. A historical nature trail leads through the scattered settlement on the ridge of the Ore Mountains. With a bit of luck, you can watch historical technology being used for show sawing of boards and shingles at the Grumbtmühle. From the nearby Geisingberg, there is a magnificent view of Geising, Zinnwald and Altenberg, the three settlements of the Eastern Ore Mountains that were created by tin mining.