The Graduation Tower and the Borlach Museum

The director of the Electoral State of Saxony Saline Baths in Dürrenberg, Johann Gottfried Borlach, was a stubborn man. He had people drilling for saline sources for 19 years. Finally, on 15th September 1763, he struck lucky at a depth of 223 metres. The discovery turned a hitherto obscure place into a wealthy spa town whose guests came to take the waters at the saline baths. The town has left behind a legacy of historic saline sites, the remains of which belong to the Salt Museum in the mighty Borlach Tower, along with Europe’s longest continuous graduation tower.

In the 18th century salt was a precious commodity and saline water was regarded as a rich source of income. But first the saline had to be fed down over a graduation tower in order to concentrate the mineral salts and clean them. The tower consisted of a 12 metre high wall-like frame stuffed with bundles of blackthorn. Waterwheels pumped the saline water to the top of the frame where it was distributed over the brushwood by means of taps and small channels. As the drops of water emerged from the bundles of wood they were evaporated by a combination of breeze and sun, leaving behind a concentrated amount of mineral content and creating a layer of so-called “thornstone” from impure particles and sparingly soluble salts. From the graduation tower the saline solution was transported to the crystallisation chamber via channels and collection basins, where it was heated up in large pans until the salt was crystallised. The quality of the salt was so high that the citizens of Dürrenberg were able to export it as far away as West Africa. In 1963, 200 years after the discovery of the saline springs, salt production ceased for lack of profitability. The spa business came to an end two years later. Nonetheless, since November 2008 Bad Dürrenberg has once again been officially recognised as a health resort.

The museum in the Borlach tower uses vivid means to tell visitors about the history of local salt production. The graduation tower still works: indeed it is still open to visitors. Here they can witness at close hand the mineral solution dripping down the wooden wall and breathe in the healthy vapours hanging like a veil around the historic site.

The Graduation Tower and the Borlach Museum
Borlachplatz 2
06231 Bad Dürrenberg
+49 (0) 3462 - 9987070

Recommended duration of visit:2 Hours
Access for persons with disabilities:Available

1. May - 30. September:
Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm

Graduation tower site
Accessible every day throughout the year.

Graduation tower visits
1. May - 15. October:
Sunday 2-5pm or by prior arrangement