Bergbauerlebniswelt Imsbach

Pfälzisches Bergbaumuseum - Weiße Grube - Grube Maria

Useful Information

Location: Langental 1, 67817 Imsbach.
Gienanthstraße 1.7 km to Imsbach youth campsite/hiking car park. 350 m/10 minutes walk.
(49.592498, 7.899717)
Open: Only on special events.
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children EUR 3, Seniors (65+) EUR 3, Apprentices EUR 3, Students (-27) EUR 3, Families (2+*) EUR 15.
Classification: MineCopper Mine MineSilver Mine MineIron Mine MineCobalt Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=12 °C.
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Pfälzisches Bergbaumuseum Imsbach e.V., Ortsstraße 2, 67817 Imsbach, Tel: +49-6302-602-0. E-mail:
Weiße Grube und Grube Maria, Zechenhaus, Langental 1, 67817 Imsbach, Tel: +49-6302-3448.
Tourismusbüro VG Winnweiler, Jakobstr. 29, 67722 Winnweiler, Tel: +49-6302-602-61, Fax: +49-6302-602-20. 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.


18th century Mining of cobalt in the White Pit.
1770 Postman Franz Didier from Kaiserslautern has prospecting for iron ores carried out.
1775 Franz Didier applies for permission to mine from the responsible Imperial Austrian authority and receives it in the same year.
1902 Mining engineer Salentiny is again granted a concession for the mining district, which is now called Maria.
1921 The new owner of the Maria mine, the Becker steelworks from Wittlich, resumes work.
192? End of mining in the Maria pit.
1979 The White Pit is opened as an exhibition mine.
2006 The Maria mine is opened as an exhibition mine.


The Palatinate with its sandstones is part of the South German Scarplands. The left bank of the Rhine is often neglected because it is much smaller, but it is no less spectacular. The rhyolite of the Donnersberg, however, is a volcanic formation full of veins of ore with a wide variety of minerals. The volcano was formed in the Rotliegendes, which is the German name for the Lower Dyas, the historical names arose from the facies predominant in Central Europe. The lower part (hence "lying") is red sandstone, the upper part white gypsum, because it is so strikingly different, i.e. divided in two, it was called Dyas ("the two-part"). Of course, this explanation makes no sense in the rest of the world and so the names Cisuralium and Guadalupium were given internationally to the Rotliegendes.

The Variscan mountain building in the Carboniferous formed the Saar-Nahe basin, while the mountains rose and were folded, the surrounding land subsided. The erosion of the rising mountains led to continental deposits in the basins, and in the Upper Carboniferous sediments with a thickness of 4,500 m were deposited. Among them, of course, coal, for which the Carboniferous is famous. The Variscan mountain building ended 300 Ma ago, and volcanism began about 10 Ma later. At this time, several lava domes (volcanic mountains) were formed in the northern Palatinate, the Donnersberg was probably the largest. It grew until it towered 1,100 m above the surrounding area. The entire area continued to sink, however, and during the Rotliegend a sequence of sediments and volcanic rocks up to 3,500 m thick was deposited. In it, an imposing block of rhylith.

The reason why the Donnersberg is a mountain again today is that rhyolite aka quartz porphyry is very resistant to weathering. This rhyolite contains NW-SE-striking faults that contain copper ores, and NNW-SSE-striking faults that have iron ores. The iron ores were probably formed with volcanism, about 285 Ma ago, and consist mainly of haematite. The copper ores were later formed hydrothermally, by thermal water converging through the fissures and dissolving copper in one place and depositing it in another. Sulphides such as galena, chalcopyrite, zinc blende and pale ore were formed. This phase was definitely after 200 Ma, so it is much younger. Finally, oxygen-rich groundwater from the surface led to the formation of a near-surface weathering zone. A diverse secondary mineralisation has formed on the veins.


The BergbauErlebnisWelt Imsbach (Mining Experience World of Imsbach) is located in a valley north of Imsbach. The village itself lies in a western side valley of the Rhine valley, at the foot of a wooded mountain ridge, the Donnersberg (686 m asl), which is also the highest elevation of the Palatinate Mountains. There were various mining activities in this mountain ridge, which are all part of the BergbauErlebnisWelt. The name is probably due to a marketing concept of the municipality of Imsbach; originally it was simply called the Pfälzisches Bergbaumuseum Imsbach (Palatinate Mining Museum Imsbach). Copper, iron and silver were mined at the foot of the Donnersberg for 500 years. Quite extraordinary is the fact that the museum, website, and even the guided tours are also offered in English. Germany has hardly any international tourism except for very few points, and so most places are only in German. However, this region still has a strong American presence long after the end of the Cold War, and so even English tours are offered here. Unfortunately the BergbauErlebnisWelt will only be open on a few days in 2022, called action days. This may be a Corona-related restriction, but it is not explained on the website, and we are not sure if there is another problem. Please be sure to check the official website before visiting.

The Pfälzisches Bergbaumuseum Imsbach (Palatinate Mining Museum Imsbach) is located in the centre of Imbach, in Triftstraße. The exhibition on the ground floor, entitled Der Pfälzische Bergbau (Palatinate Mining), shows most of the mineral and metallic raw materials ever extracted in the Palatinate. Their formation over the last 300 million years of earth's history is explained. Archaeological finds related to mining since Celtic times and tools, pit lamps and miners' equipment are presented. On the upper floor of the museum is the Terra Crystallum exhibition, a mineral exhibition with 400 exhibits, on permanent loan from the private collection of Roger Lang. Ores, minerals and gemstones from all over the world vividly illustrate topics such as the systematics of minerals according to their chemical composition, habit, colour and crystal systems. The Palatinate Mining Museum also shows changing special exhibitions.

The museum is definitely a good starting point for the BergbauErlebnisWelt. If you follow the Gienanthstraße from here, you will reach the Imsbach youth campsite and a hikers' car park on the road after 1.7 km. From here it is only a 350 m/10 minute walk up the Wolfstal valley to the mines.

The Weiße Grube (White Pit) is a mine which can be visited without a guided tour, but it is closed and only accessible during opening hours. Paved paths lead through tunnels of the old mine, the pits and short galleries are mainly lit by daylight. Electric lights are installed in the darker areas, but we recommend bringing a torch. In the 18th century under the Wartenbergs, the mine was called Graf Friedrich, and in Habsburg times it was renamed Josephi-Grube. This was a reference to Emperor Joseph II, the sovereign of the county of Falkenstein. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that the current name became established. The Weiße Grube is one of the oldest mines in the area; it may have been active as early as Roman times. Primarily copper was mined, but during the 18th century cobalt was of interest for some time. Silver is also found in the ores, so there is a so-called Silberschacht (silver shaft), but mining for silver was not profitable. The ores were so-called leaching ores and were processed in a leaching plant. It is quite unusual that in the last periods of operation, mining was mainly done in opencast. The tour shows several hundred metres of galleries, as well as large underground and surface excavations. It is easy to distinguish neatly chiseled areas from the Middle Ages from those blasted out with explosives in the last mining phase.

Only 50 m away on the other side of the valley is the entrance of the Grube Maria (Maria mine). This is a rather traditional show mine that can only be visited as part of a guided tour. In the 1770s, the postman Franz Didier from Kaiserslautern had prospecting carried out for iron ores. He actually discovered the southern end of the Langenthal iron ore veins. In 1775, he applied for permission to mine to the responsible Imperial Austrian authority. He received the permit in the same year and had a 30 m deep shaft sunk. The yield was not as expected and the work was quickly stopped again. It was not until 1902 that another attempt was made and the mining engineer Salentiny was again granted a concession for the mining district, which was now called Maria. The Maria field was taken over by the Gewerkschaft Hochfels (Hochfels mining union), which reopened the old shaft, but without success. The new owner, the Stahlwerk Becker (Becker steelworks) from Wittlich, made another attempt in 1921, which was discontinued in 1923. This was the end of mining. The last mining activities took place in 1941 though, a side passage of the lower gallery was extended to become an explosives magazine. Obviously related to World War II. Over the next 60 years, the shaft was backfilled with slope debris, excavated again in 2000 and opened as a show mine in 2006.

Another mine, the Katharina mine, is located northwest of the Imsbach, about 600 m from the hikers' car park at the end of Bergschmiedestraße. It is also a stop on the two copper trails. Katharina mine is a Pinge (open pit) where a deposit was mined and a deep crevice was left. It cannot be entered, but there are viewing points. This is probably the most spectacular stop on the various mining history trails around Imsbach. There is an iron trail and two copper trails, as well as a number of other hiking trails.