Schaubergwerk Sunnpau


Useful Information

Location: From Salzburg A10 south, exit Bischofshofen. Follow 311 to exit St. Veit im Pongau. L218 through St. Veit im Pongau, at restaurant Brennerwirt turn right, on narrow road 1km to PArking Lot. 15 minutes walk to mine.
Open: MAY Wed, Sun, Hol 10-16.
JUN to SEP Wed, Thu, Sun, Hol 10-16.
Last tour 15.
[2020]
Fee: Adults EUR 12, Children (6-15) EUR 6, Children (4-5) free, Children (0-3) not allowed.
Groups (8+): Adults EUR 10, School Pupils EUR 5, Students EUR 7.
[2020]
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension:
Guided tours: D=60min.
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Schaubergwerk Sunnpau, Stein 30-32; 5621 St. Veit im Pongau, Tel: +43-664-2031716. E-mail:
Museumsverein St. Veit im Pongau, Langmoos 41, 5621 St. Veit, Tel: 06415/7520-0 E-mail:
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.

History

1543 50 tons of copper ore mined in 19 mines.
14th cty mines reopened to produce copper for the gold production.
17th cty mine closed after demand of copper vanished.
18th cty reopened by order of Kaiserin Maria Theresia.
1875 min finally closed.
1990 archaeologic excavation of mine.
2006 end of excavation.
2007 mine opened as a show mine.

Geology


Description

The Schaubergwerk Sunnpau has 4,000 years of history. Mining started in prehistoric times, when the miners used fires and water to crack the rock, in the Middle Ages they used hammer and chisel, and later the use of black powder revolutionized mining. Its one of the oldest mines in Europe, similar in age to the salt mine in Hallstadt.

In the Bronze Age copper was quite important for the production of bronze. At this time only flint and bronze tools existed, so it was difficult to mine the ore. But they had a slow but efficient technique, making a fire in front of the ore body. The hot ore expanded, and then they threw a bucket of cold water on the ore and it cooled immediately and cracked. Afterwards it was quite simple to break it into pieces and collect them. The mining technique worked well but required a lot of wood and it was slow. But the reason why the mines were abandoned the first time was simply the end of the Bronze age. The copper was not valuable any more and the mines were closed.

They were forgotten for centuries, until they were rediscovered and reopened in the 14th century. The copper was needed for the production of Tauerngold at the furnace in Lend. The Sunnpau mine was owned by the Weitmoser family, a wealthy miner family from Gastein. In the Middle Ages there dozens of pit, searching for the copper ore. The production was quite impressive, for example in the year 1543 50 tons of ore were mined in 19 tunnels. But the gold mining of the Tauern decreased, and so did the need for copper. After a decline during the 16th century the mine was finally closed in the 17th century.

In the 18th century the mine was revived by order of Kaiserin Maria Theresia. It was again closed in 1875 when the mining was not profitable any more.

The mine was reopened for a last time, between 1990 and 2006, but not for mining. Archaeological excavations revealed a 3000 years old grave of a Celtic miner with several burial gifts. This age is locally called Urnenfelderzeit because it is characterized by urn field burials. Such a bodily burial is exceptional. And the gifts are quite exceptional too, the head of a lance, earthenware, and the skull of a fox. The grave was reconstructed in the show mine, the items are on display in the Seelackenmuseum in nearby St. Veit im Pongau. And after the mine was restored, equipped with light and trains, and more or less safe, it was opened as a show mine after only one year.