Narrow, crudely hewed out mining galleries: damp rock: glittering coloured crystal minerals. Suddenly the seemingly enchanted underground kingdom springs to life. Rushing water: a mighty scoop wheel creaks into action: above it rises the remarkably genuine sound of crackling fire and bursting rock. The Rammelsberg Museum and Visitor Mine near Goslar stages 1,000 years of mining history; from the age-old method of mining ore by laying a fire, via an adventurous expedition through a mediaeval system of galleries, to the thunderous roar of modern mining and conveying techniques during a trip on the colliery railway. A fine example of industrial architecture awaits visitors on the surface; the monumental processing plant designed by the architects, Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer. Inside, viewers can see how conical crushers, ball mills and flotation engines processed finely ground concentrates from copper, lead and zinc ores. All this is accompanied by vivid sound effects of everyday working conditions. The mine was inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1992 – along with the former Imperial Town of Goslar.
In Goslar stands a famous Imperial Palatinate residence. Why? Simply because of Rammelsberg. In the Middle Ages, German monarchs had their eye on its copper and silver mines. Thus Goslar became a residential town and Rammelsberg operated as a mine for almost exactly 1000 years.
The systematic exploitation of local ore reserves began around 968. Towards the end of the 15th century, mining activities were increasingly concentrated on lead ore, later also on zinc. In order to heat the metalliferous layers of rock – thereby making it more brittle - colliers would stack up bundles of spruce in the galleries and set them on fire. (This method continued right up to the 18th century). When the fire had died down, the miners would set about the brittle rock with crowbars, hammers and chisels. The working day usually began around six in the evening with a general assembly for prayers in the colliery building. Afterwards the miners descended into the pit, where they slept until eleven o´clock on beds of hay, worked an interim shift for the next five hours until four in the morning, had a short break and were then awoken by the foreman to start the early morning shift. The introduction of water-wheels to drive the pumps and convey the ore relieved them of much bone-breaking labour. The Roeder galleries, now once more accessible, are generally regarded as masterpieces of the art of engineering at the end of the 18th century. About that time industrial mining began at Rammelsberg. The use of steam power and the discovery of new ore sites meant that mining activities expanded considerably during the whole of the 19th century. In 1936 the introduction of applied flotation methods to separate the ore into concentrates of copper, lead and zinc gave the mine its final boost. The necessary processing plant designed by the architectural team of Schupp und Kremmer was built in a record time of just one year.
By 1988 reserves of ore were exhausted and Rammelsberg was forced to close its gates. Nowadays they are wide open once again – to welcome visitors to the Museum and Visitor Mine.
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Mid March to October:
daily 9am-6pm, last guided tour 4.30pm
November to Mid March:
daily 9am-5pm, last guided tour 3.30pm