Schwazer Silberbergwerk

Schaubergwerk Sigmund-Erbstollen - Silver Mine Schwaz

Useful Information

Landscape above the mine.
The Falkenstein mining district (looking south) with many tunnel entrances, from the Schwazer Bergbuch (1556), Schwaz, Austria. Public Domain.
Entrance of the Sigmund-Erbstollen (Sigmund adit), Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.
Ride into the mine with the mine train, Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.
Location: Alte Landstrasse 3a, 6130 Schwaz.
28 km from Innsbruck. A12/E45/E60 Innsbruck-Inntal Dreieck (Germany), exit Schwaz. From the motorway exit cross the Inn river, at the city turn left. Follow signs.
(47.3536901, 11.7274794)
Open: 04-FEB to 07-JAN daily 9:45-16.
Fee: Adults EUR 20, Children (15-18) EUR 16, Children (5-14) EUR 11, Children (0-4) free, Students EUR 16, Seniors (60+) EUR 16.
Family (2+1) EUR 41, Family (1+1) EUR 25, Additional Child EUR 9.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 16, Children (5-18) 9.
Classification: MineSilver Mine MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=12 °C.
Guided tours: D=90 min, Max=40.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Thilo Arlt (1994): Geologie und Vererzungen im Raum Schwaz-Brixlegg, Lapis Jg. 19, Nr. 7, S. 22-27. Deutsch - German researchgate
Thilo Arlt, Klaus-Peter Martinek (1994): Die Mineralvorkommen des Bergbaugebietes Schwaz-Brixlegg, MM-Bergwerksportrait 94, S.70-73. Deutsch - German researchgate
Address: Schwazer Silberbergwerk Besucherführung GmbH, Alte Landstrasse 3a, 6130 Schwaz, Tirol, Austria, Tel: +43-5242-72372. 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.


1420 mining started, miners from Bohemia and Saxony moved to Schwaz.
1426 mine called Alte Zeche discovered west of Schwaz, which was very productive.
1427 the Bergordnung für Gossensass und Schwaz, a sort of mining law was introduced by Herzog Friedrich, to stop wild exploration. It was based on an older law named Schladminger Bergordnung from 1408.
1441 the minng law was finally applied, the gold-rush-like mining frenzy was stopped, claims were now legally transferred to companies by the Bergrichter (mining judge) and officially surveyed.
1447 the Bergordnung (mining law) was updated by Herzog Sigmund.
1449 the final extension of the Bergordnung by Herzog Sigmund.
15th and 16th century Schwaz was the biggest silver mine of the world.
1467 the old sovereigns, the Freudberger Family, moved to Mindelheim and Erzherzog Sigmund became new sovereign of Schwaz.
1519 the Habsburger Karl V. became Kaiser of Germany, financed by the Fugger from Augsburg.
1550 the end of Schwaz mining began, as several European wars influenced trade and American mines produced cheaper silver.
1552 the last Schwazer mining family was bancrupt, and the Fugger owned the whole mining in Schwaz.
1670 the sovereign took over all remaining mines to prevent the miners from becoming unemployed.


The area north of the Inn valley belongs to the northern Limestone Alps, in other words the mountains consist of limestone. The river valley marks the Inntalstörung (Inn valley fault) border between the covering sedimentary nappes and the crstalline basement. The uplift of the Alps was highest in the center, overlying sedments were eroded, and now greywacke, quartz phyllite, gneiss are on the surface. There are actually different geologic units south of Schwaz, the Innsbrucker Quarzphyllit-Decke (Innsbruck quartz phyllite) of the Unterostalpin, Kellerjoch-Decke, gneiss of the Mittelostalpin, and the Grauwackenzone (greywacke zone) of the Oberostalpin. This last unit consists of Wildschönau slate, Schwaz dolomite, Permoscythian sediments, Alpine red sandstone and the Schwaz Triassic: Reichenhall layers, Alpine shell limestone, and Partnach layers.

The Schwaz deposit is part of an ore field that stretches from Schwaz to Kundl. There are three mineralized rock units, the gneiss, Schwaz dolomite, and the Schwaz Triassic. The mineralization consists of chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, pale ore, Bi-Co-Ni ores and sphalerite. The ore veins are up to 5 m thick, which is quite exceptional. The mineralization in the Schwaz dolomite are monomineralic pale ores.

The first formation of the deposit was hydrothermal-sedimentary, in other words, hot water from the underground reached the sea floor and formed black smokers. The hot mineral-rich water is cooled by the surrounding seawater, the minerals precipitate and are deposited together with the rock. During the Alpine orogeny the metal minerals were mobilized and were deposited in crevices and breccia areas, sometimes also displacing rock, in the form of corridors, storeys and buttes. In some parts of the deposit, the veins are polymetallic.

The deposit is rather large, it extends from Schwaz to the summit of the Kreuzjoch, and eastwards to the Zillertal. On the other side of the valley, it continues to Brixlegg and Rattenberg. The whole area is more than 20 km long, the deposits extend from 300 m als to 1,700 m asl.


Historic miner with mine cart, Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.
Modern mine tunnel, Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.
Wasserkust, the reconstructed historic water wheel, Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.
Historic part of the mine, Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.

Schwaz with its very rich ores was a success story in the Middle Ages: only twenty years after it was opened and for about 120 years it was the biggest silver mine of the world. The silver ore was mined by more than 10,000 workers and so at this time the town of Schwaz was the second largest town in Austria. The comedown of the Schwaz mining came around 1550, when several European wars influenced trade and American mines produced cheaper silver, e.g. MinePotosí in Bolivia.

The main mining area was the Falkenstein. All together, 1,700 tons of silver were produced in this area. The mines grew to 250 tunnels with more than 500 km length in total.

The mine is entered by a train ride of 800 m along the Sigmund-Erbstollen (Sigmund adit). The following tour includes a slide show and an exhibition. The geology, the technology and the daily work in the medieval silver mine are explained.

The Falkenstein was the financial backbone of the Habsburg family, as they owned 1/9th of all mines and tunnels. One of ten buckets was called Fron (socage) and belonged to the sovereign. But even more valuable was the rule that all ore had to be sold to the Saline Hall to a fixed price, which was about half of the real value. The difference, called Wechsel (change), was a very good income.

Silver is pretty valuable, and this seems to have influenced the entrance fees at Schwaz. The 90 minutes long tour shows much of the mine, reconstructed mining equipment, slide shows, several animated miners telling about their life, and it also includes a ride on the mining railroad. The tour is very informative and there are even multilingual tours and earphones for foreign language visitors. Still, the fee seems a bit exaggerated.

Also, they do not tell their open hours any more. For unknown reasons, they just state the "current" open hours, so it is actually essential to check their website on the day of your visit to be sure. This is extremely impractical and makes it almost impossible to plan a future visit. As a result, we give the low season open hours for the whole year, they might be longer in Summer or otherwise change over the year, but we have no idea how exactly. Also, they close for maintenance in January, but again do not give exact dates. It seems they close after the 6th of January, which is a catholic Holiday, or if there is a weekend on Monday, for four weeks. But that's just a guess. Its unclear if they do this every year or just this year. Even the tourist information is confused, they give completely different times from the official website, and have not updated for years. Most likely, they had the same problem we have.


The restaurant Zum Knapp´n, Schwazer Silberbergwerk, Austria.