Bergbaumuseum "Kleiner Johannes"

Useful Information

Location: Altes Bergwerk, Arzberg
(50.059140, 12.192233)
Open: APR to NOV daily 9-17.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineIron Mine SubterraneaMining Museum SubterraneaReplica Underground Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Bergbaumuseum "Kleiner Johannes", Naturpark Fichtelgebirge e.V., Altes Bergwerk 1, Arzberg, Tel: +49-9233-4040. E-mail:
Tourismuszentrale Fichtelgebirge e.V., Rathaus, D-95686 Fichtelberg, Tel: +49-9272-969030, Fax: +49-9272-969036. 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.


14th century First documentary mention of a mine in Arzberg.
1723-1760 Johann Georg Ullmann is mining master in the mining office of Wunsiedel.
1792-1797 Alexander von Humboldt is mining master of the Bayreuth Margraves.
1937-1941 reactivation of mining due to the Second World War.



The Bergbaumuseum "Kleiner Johannes" (Mining Museum "Kleiner Johannes") is located on the site of the former iron mine Zeche Kleiner Johannes. In addition to the outdoor area, the mine buildings and the museum, it is also a nature park information centre of the Fichtelgebirge Nature Park. The name Arzberg is the medieval form of Erz-Berg (ore mountain), it shows that the place was founded for mining, before mining there was no settlement here. From the Middle Ages until the 18th century, the Fichtelgebirge was an important mining area where mainly iron and tin, but also copper and gold were mined on a large scale. Nevertheless, the facilities in the mining museum are from the 20th century. The Kleiner Johannes mine was one of the few mines that was still in operation in the 20th century. In preparation for the Second World War, it was reactivated by the National Socialists to mine iron essential for their war efforts. But shortly after the war began, mining was stopped again.

In the Middle Ages, the ore was smelted directly on site. The Fichtelgebirge with its forests provided the necessary charcoal. In addition, charcoal was light and could be transported much more easily, so the coal came to the ore. The result was an almost completely deforested Fichtelgebirge, which was then systematically reforested with spruce trees. The remains of the many blast furnaces in the forest are being archaeologically excavated again today. In the museum, a mini blast furnace was reconstructed by experimental archaeology. A gallery was also reconstructed, as the original galleries of the mine are no longer accessible, a mine replica, so to speak.

A highlight of the exhibition is a Leonard converter or Leonard set, which was used to turn direct current into alternating current. It consists of an electric motor and a generator, the motor is operated with the direct current, the generator produces alternating current. The special feature of the Leonard converter is a control via the excitation winding to keep the speed and thus the output voltage constant.

For a time, the Kleiner Johannes colliery belonged to the neighbouring Johanneszeche open-cast mine. Some exhibits come from there, including an inclined lift and a mine train with a light railway locomotive.

The heyday of mining in Arzberg, as in the entire Fichtelgebirge, was in the 14th and 15th centuries. At that time there was a saying, "In the Fichtelgebirge, a stone you throw at a cow is worth more than the cow!". Of course, such sayings also came from other mining areas such as the Erzgebirge. This word-of-mouth propaganda attracted many miners and adventurers from all over Europe. They were called ExplainVenetians, Walen or Welsche, although of course they did not all come from Venice, and even found their way into fairy tales and legends.

One famous name is Johann Georg Ullmann, the mining master and cartographer. As mining master in the Wunsiedel mining office from 1723 to 1760, he improved the drainage of the mines and drew accurate plans. He was also involved in gold mining in Goldkronach.

From 1792 to 1797, Alexander von Humboldt was the mining master of the Bayreuth margraves. He founded a mining school in Arzberg and improved pumping technology and other technical equipment. As a result, ore mining in the Fichtelgebirge and Franconian Forest once again reached a peak. However, the importance that mining had in the Fichtelgebirge during the Middle Ages could never be achieved again later.