Kirchenlamitzer Straße 5, 95163 Weißenstadt.
Im Keller von Sack's Destille.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Address:||Kur- & Tourist Information Weißenstadt, Wunsiedler Straße 4, 95163 Weißenstadt, Tel: +49-9253-95030. 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.
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|1400–1650||Mining of rock crystals.|
|1745||Mine backfilled with sand.|
|1990||Drugstore owner Willi Sack has the sand-filled passage in his cellar cleared out.|
|2009||opened as a show mine.|
|2018||Mine secured on behalf of the Mining Authority of Northern Bavaria.|
|2021||Mining Authority has exhibition mine backfilled with concrete.|
In Weißenstadt on the edge of the Fichtelgebirge mountains are the so-called Kristallgänge (crystal tunnels), also known as the Kristallbergwerk Weißenstadt (Crystal Mine Weißenstadt). These are former gemstone mines (or rather semi-precious stone mines) in which rock crystals were mined. The margraves of Bayreuth were already aware of the crystals hidden underground in the town. The best pieces were used in the Lustschloss Eremitage (Eremitage pleasure palace) in the Bayreuth suburb of St. Johannis. They were used on the columns of the Sonnentempel (Temple of the Sun) and in the grotto. Gemstones were also mined for King Ludwig II. Later the tunnels were mainly used as cellars.
In the Middle Ages, Weißenstadt was the centre of an area rich in mineral resources. Thus, there were considerable tin deposits and corresponding mines in Weißenstadt itself. Later, crystals were important mineral resources, and in the 20th century granite itself acquired considerable importance as a building stone. The new spa park was built in the ruins of the first German factory where granite was ground. Erhardt Ackermann had invented machine surface finishing in the middle of the 19th century. The successor company Grasyma worked and supplied granite from the nearby Waldstein, Weißenstadt's local mountain. Albert Speer, the architect of the National Socialists, liked to use the granite and had chosen Grasyma as the main supplier for the new capital Germania. This was never built, yet the granite can be found in many Nazi buildings: the Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally Grounds, the Tannenberg Monument in East Prussia and of course the Große Straße in Nuremberg.
Weißenstadt is situated on a plateau surrounded on three sides by dark mountain ranges of granite. The horseshoe of the Fichtel Mountains, open to the east, protects the town from rainy weather from the west. It makes up the character of the town, and offers a variety of hiking opportunities. The peaks are almost a thousand metres high and often show the typical spheroidal weathering of the granite. The hike to the Rudolfstein with its 15th-century castle ruins is particularly popular.
On request, Willi Sack guides visitors through the crystal passages beneath the town. He is very versatile and active, so he also runs an old-fashioned distillery where he makes schnapps and liqueurs. It is said to be the smallest distillery in Bavaria. He has turned the drugstore, which has been abandoned for some years, into a drugstore museum. He is the owner of the mine, which he discovered around 1990 and had cleared as it had been filled with sand in 1745. That's why it was sometimes called the Willi Sack Cellar. Since 2009, he has officially operated it as a visitor mine.
In 2018, the majority of the mine was secured, i.e. backfilled and thus destroyed, on behalf of the Northern Bavarian Mining Authority. In January 2021, the rest, namely the visitor mine, was then also filled with concrete. All protests were of no use, the small private show mine was not taken seriously despite its extraordinary geology. As a result, the mine has been destroyed and can no longer be visited, closing the second of just three gemstone mines in Germany. Fortunately, the distillery still exists and sells fine spirits as a consolation. In addition, a 3D model was created before the destruction, so that you can online visit the mine virtually.