Bergwerk Villanders

Pfunderer Bergwerk


Useful Information

Location: Between Bozen and Brixen. A22 exit Casello Chiusa-Val Gardena/Klausen-Groeden, right at roundabout, across river, turn left on SS12. In Klausen turn right uphill to Villanders, further uphill, signposted. 300m walk from parking lot.
Open: Elisabeth tunnel: Mid-APR to OCT Tue, Thu 10:30, 14, Sun 10:30.
Elisabeth and Lorenz tunnels: JUL to AUG Wed 10:30.
[2020]
Fee: Elisabeth tunnel: Adults EUR 9, Children (6-15) EUR 4, Students EUR 7, Seniors (65+) EUR 7, Family EUR 20.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 7.
Elisabeth and Lorenz tunnels: Adults EUR 15, Children (6-15) EUR 8, Students EUR 13, Seniors (65+) EUR 13, Family EUR 30.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 13.
[2020]
Classification: MineSilver Mine MineCopper Mine MineZinc Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=25km, T=8°C.
Guided tours: Elisabeth tunnel: D=90min, L=700m, A=1309m asl.
Elisabeth and Lorenz tunnels: D=2.5h, St=300, VR=80m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: Elisabeth tunnel: yes.
Elisabeth and Lorenz tunnels: no
Bibliography:
Address: Bergwerk Villanders, Oberland 36, 39040 Villanders, Südtirol, Tel: +39-345-3115661. 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

~1150 first written mention, Graf Arnold von Greifenstein and his wife donate mons argenti, the siver mountain, th the newly founded Kloster Neustift near Brixen.
1177 Kaiser Friedrich I. Barbarossa confirms that Kloster Neustift owns the mine.
1464 after the death of Nikolaus Cusanus the mines were operated by merchants and mining flourished.
late 16th cty mining declines due to cheap silver from oversees and lack of wood.
late 17th cty mine continued at lower level by the Jennersche Gewerkschaft.
late 18th cty mine corrupt and now owned by the Austrian state.
~1910 mine closed.
1919 mine revived by the new owners, the Italian state.
1921 road and the stamp mill destroyed by a storm.
1997 begin of renovation of the mine by the Kultur- und Museumsverein Villanders.
2003 Elisabethstollen opened to the public.
2006 Lorenzstollen opened to the public.
2018 entrance building enlarged for better infrastructure.

Geology

The mountain consists mainly of two metamorphic rocks, quartz phyllite and diorite. Those rocks are full of ore veins of hydrothermal origin. Such ores typically contain a wide variety in minerals and metals. Which metal is mined depends on its percentage in the ore, but also the available smelting technology. That's the reason why silver and gold were more important in the beginning and were later replaced by copper and zinc.

The veins contain galena, sphalerite and chalcopyrite. The ores were mixed, in stripes or formed nodules, both galena covered by chalcopyrite and chalcopyrite covered by galena. Chalcopyrite and pyrite were found in layers along the surrounding rocks.

According to old records, the silver content of the ores at Pfundererberg was 3-6 kg per ton of galena and 0.4-1.7 kg per ton of chalcopyrite. There was such a variety in the ores that


Description

The historic silver mine Bergwerk Villanders, located above the town, was for some time during the Middle Ages one of the most important mines in Tyrolia. There are 16 tunnels, differing some 750m in altitude. Thats the reason why this was also called the silver mountain in the early middle ages. The mines were donated to the monastery, the clergy was quite greedy to get mines, various emperors, give continually exceeded rights to the nearby monastery Neustift near Brixen. Finally the monastery gets the right for any mine discovered in the future.

But with such a long history the mine changed owners various times and it changed its name also. And it was located at the border, the Thinnebach, a tributary of the Eisack river, was the border between the the dioceses of Brixen and Trento, between the old counties of Bolzano and Norital, later between the courts of Villandro and Latzfons-Verdings, and between the Hochstift Brixen and the County of Tyrol. As a result there were numerous border conflicts and the important mines were protected by castle Gernstein since the 12th century.

The mine had its heyday during the 16th century. The problem was, before the church and the duke of Tyrolia were fighting, and there were no investments into the mine from any side. After the death of cardinal Nikolaus Cusanus (1450-1464) his successors obeyed and gave the mines to the duke. He on the other hand leased them to mine operators, rich merchants, who invested in the mines and increased production. They had to pay two forms of taxes, the Fron which was one of ten buckets of ore, and the Wechsel, a percentage of the produced silver bars. Among the merchants was the Fugger family from Augsburg, but their main interest was in the MineSchwazer Silberbergwerk, so the involvement here was rather unimportant.

The mining was made by hand, with hammer and chisel. The miners were quite creative with the common problem of water in the mines, but with increased investment the connection of different levels was possible and water was drained through lower tunnels. The ore was carried out of the tunnel and immediately preprocessed in front of the tunnel. The resulting Röster (roasted ore) was transported to Klausen to the furnace.

This era ended for two reasons at the end of the 16th century. The emperor made a new law which restricted the cutting of wood because most of the forests were destroyed by excessive wood cutting. But the wood was essential for creating charcoal for the furnaces and for the timbering of the tunnels, the setting of timber supports for stabilizing the tunnels. But the main reason for the decline was the general crisis in silver mining because of cheaper silver from mines in America.

The mining was revived in the 17th century by Matthias Jenner. However the important metals, which was silver and even gold in the early centuries, were now copper and zinc. The mining continued until the end of the 18th century. The mine operated by the Jennersche Gewerkschaft went corrupt and was now owned by the state. The production was only 5t copper, 25t lead and 130kg silver per year. And with a storm in late 19th century the road was detroyed and the mine closed. It was so unimportant that the Austrian state needed 15 years to rebuild the road. The mine was finally closed before World War I.

After World War I the border had changed and this part of Tyrolia now belonged to Italy. They started a new tunnel, named Viktor Emanuel – Stollen after the Italian King. But again the road and the stamp mill were destroyed by a storm in 1921. The last mining activity was for a very short time during World War II, because of the war.

The mine was the topic of the non-profit club Kultur und Museumsverein Villanders. They removed tons of slack to reopen some parts of the mine as a show mine. Founded in 2003 they offered first tours in the Elisabethstollen in 2003. Works continued in Lorenzstollen which was opened 2006.

The show mine is still operated by the non-profit club and the guides are enthusiasts. The result are very skilled and interesting tours and lavish praise on social media.