In 2019, the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List as a joint heritage of the Czech Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. This award testifies not only to the achievements of many generations of miners in the past and the extraordinary global importance of mining in the Ore Mountains from the Renaissance to modern times, but also to the tireless efforts of the people on both sides of the Saxon/Czech border over many decades to preserve this unique historical legacy.
The extraordinary abundance of raw materials in the Ore Mountains was decisive for an 800-year development of the entire region based on the mining industry. From the 12th to the 20th century, mining was the dominant form of economy and had a decisive influence on the development of today's cultural landscape. The rich finds of silver, tin, cobalt and uranium paved the way for outstanding scientific achievements, pioneering innovations in mining and metallurgy, as well as for the formation of an education system and a mining administration that had a significant impact on developments in other mining regions around the world.
Decisive for the entry of a site on the UNESCO World Heritage List is the declaration of outstanding universal value, which justifies the uniqueness of this site in international comparison. For World Heritage sites, it must be demonstrated that each nominated site meets at least one of the six criteria set out in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. On July 6, 2019, the World Heritage Committee confirmed that the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region met three of these criteria, namely criteria ii), iii) and iv).
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region is an exceptional testimony to the outstanding role and strong global influence of the Saxon-Bohemian Ore Mountains as a centre for technological and scientific innovations from the Renaissance up to Modern Times. During several periods of mining history significant achievements related to the mining industry emanated from the region and were successfully transferred or influenced subsequent developments in other mining regions. The lively international exchange and knowledge transfer are particularly evident in the development of the mining educational system and in the continuous operation of highly-trained miners from the Ore Mountains in mining areas around the world.
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region bears exceptional testimony to technological, scientific, administrative, educational, managerial and social aspects that underpin the intangible dimension of living traditions, ideas and beliefs of the people associated with Ore Mountains’ culture. Organization and a hierarchical administration and management are fundamental to understanding the mining tradition of the Ore Mountains that developed from the beginnings of the 16th century. Such an approach influenced the economic, legal, administrative and social system of mining in all continental Europe mining regions.
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region is a series representing a coherent mining landscape which was transformed by mining activities from the 12th to the 20th centuries. Well-preserved mine workings, technological ensembles and landscape features bear witness to all known extracting and processing technologies applied since the late medieval to modern times as well as to the development of extensive sophisticated water management systems both above- and underground. The mining activities led to the unparalleled development of a dense settlement pattern both in valleys and very high harsh upland positions, featuring a close connection to the surrounding mining landscapes.
The Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region comprises 22 component parts, which as a whole clearly illustrate the transformation of this area as a result of 800 years of mining activities. Seventeen of these component parts are located on the Saxon side and five on the Czech side of the mountain range. Each of these 22 component parts can be assigned to one of the five mining landscapes, which still characterize the appearance of the Ore Mountains mining region:
The outstanding universal value of the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region can only be assessed in combination of all 22 component parts of this World Heritage Site.
The component parts of the World Heritage Site usually include larger landscape units (ore mining landscapes), which are interconnected by certain cultural, functional, social and administrative links. The individual mining landscapes provide a comprehensive insight into the mining and processing of the most important ore raw materials and document the use of various technologies in different mining periods up to the closure of the mines around 1990. Together, these component parts testify to all important milestones in the history of the cross-border mining region and the dynamics of its development.
Moreover, each mining landscape contains significant mining-related monuments and characteristic landscape features, such as mines, ore processing sites, water management systems, lines of heaps and shaft collapses, and mining towns. They contribute significantly to the understanding of the mining landscape and convey the outstanding universal value of the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří World Heritage Site.