Erlebniswelt am Grünten

Erzgruben Burgberg

Useful Information

Location: Grünten, near Burgberg.
(47.538919, 10.322166)
Open: Museum: APR to OCT daily 10:30-17.
Mine Tour: APR to mid-JUL daily 11:30, 14:15.
Mid-JUL to AUG daily 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30.
SEP to OCT daily 11:30, 14:15.
Fee: Museum: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-14) EUR 3,50, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 4, Disabled EUR 4, Unemployed EUR 4, Family (2+2) EUR 12.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 4,50, Children (6-16) EUR 3, Family (2+2) EUR 11.
Museum with Mine Tour: Adults EUR 8, Children (6-16) EUR 5, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 6,50, Disabled EUR 6,50, Unemployed EUR 6,50, Family (2+2) EUR 19.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 7.50, Children (6-16) EUR 4.50, Family (2+2) EUR 18.
Guided tour of the museum village: Per Person EUR 1.50 surcharge.
Allgäu-Walser-Card: Group rates.
Classification: MineIron Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: Mine Tour: D=2.5h
Address: Erzgruben Burgberg c/o Tourist-Info Burgberg, Rettenberger Str. 2, 87545 Burgberg, Tel: +49-8321-672220. 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.


1471 mining first mentioned.
1859 mining stopped.
1937 prospection for ore in old mines unsuccessful.
1944/45 all mines closed by blasting the entrances.
1992 first mines reopened by volunteers.
1998 non profit organisation Historischer Bergbau Allgäu e.V. founded.
2001 Allgäuer Natur- und Bergwerke GmbH founded to develop a show mine.
2003 start of subventions by the EU.
2005 construction of Erlebniswelt am Grünten started.
JUL-2006 opened to the public.


The southern side of the Grünten mountain is composed of sedimentary rocks of the Cretaceous and the Tertiary. During the Tertiary, some 50 Ma ago, in a 1,000 km wide sea between Africa and Europe, a river from the north brought iron rich sand and deposited it in the sea. The iron rich sandstone contains numerous fossils, mostly nummulites.

During the formation of the Alps the layers were transported and compressed, as a result the horizontal layers were folded. At this location they were tilted and are now vertical, but unfortunately they were also faulted, and as a result there is not one single seam but many short pieces of the same seam. The pieces are generally less than 20 m long, and then the ore continues somewhere else. This makes mining difficult.

The ore contains between 10% and 30% of iron. It also contains a high amount of sulphur and phosphor. With modern techniques it is possible to remove those elements from the melt, but in early times this was not possible and the result was a sort of iron called cast iron. It was good for casting, but could not be used for wrought iron.


The Grünten (1738 m asl) is a mountain near the village Burgberg. It is well known for the broadcasting and communication facility on its summit, which uses its prominent location. And it contained some low quality iron ores, which were mined for the local demand for centuries. The ore contained much sulfur and phosphor, so it could only be used for casting. It was used for halberds, armor, and nails. It was not good enough for knifes and swords.

Mining started in the Middle Ages, an exact time is not known, but in 1471 when it was first mentioned, the mining was already well established. In this year Kaiser Friedrich III. gave the mining rights to the Count of Montfort. The ores were found all along the southern slope of the mountain. Until 1607 they were smelted immediately after the mining at the Starzlach river in two furnaces. The wood of the mountain was used to make charcoal for the furnaces. In 1607 a furnace was errected in Sonthofen, located beneath the existing hammer mill. From then the ores were transported down to the furnace during winter, using sleds.

The mining ended in 1859 because of the railroad. Once the area was connected to the European rail network, cheaper and better iron could be imported. The mines were abandoned. During the Third Reich, there was an attempt to reactivate the iron mining, obviously to force the war preparations. But the ore was too poor, even under those circumstances. In 1944 and 1945 the mines were closed by blasting the entrances. The general explanation why this was done are security reasons. This sounds crazy, as Germany was losing the war, and any explosives were needed at the battlefront.

Since the 1990s the locals worked to explore and protect the archaeological remains of the mining history. Various pits were reopened, the Theresiengrube, the Neue Annagrube, the Wassergrube (Christopherusgrube) and the Martinsgrube. There was a plan to make a show mine, but it took years to make this possible. In 2003 new subventions by the Euroean Community became available and the Erlebniswelt am Grünten was crated.

The Erlebniswelt am Grünten consists of an open air museum, the reconstructed village of the miners called Knappendorf, various exhibitions and guided walking tours to the mines. The museum shows minerals and fossils and explains the local geology. The Knappenhütte (miners hut) contains an exhibition of tools and explains the mining technology. The Schmiedehütte (smiths hut) explains what was manufactured from the iron. The open air museum is about 2 km from the village Burgberg, and there is no public road. To reach it you may walk or use the miners train, a fun train which connects the parking lot with the entrance of the museum. It is also possible to walk through the Starzlachklamm (gorge of the Starzlach). The direct walk takes about one hour, the walk through the gorge two hours. From the museum guided walks start, which include visits to the two mines Theresiengrube and Annagrube. The tour requires some walking and takes 2.5 hours.