Czechs and Germans submit joint UNESCO bid for Ore mountains

Erzgebirge (Foto: Archiv des Tschechischen Rundfunks - Radio Prag)

The Czech Republic and Saxony have submitted their nomination of the mining region of Krušnohoří, a uniquely preserved landscape formed by centuries of ore mining, for UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. The joint nomination was signed on Monday by outgoing Czech culture minister Daniel Herman and Saxony State interior minister Markus Ulbig.

Ore Mountains, photo: Czech Radio - Radio Prague
Krušné hory or Ore Mountains in the north of the Czech Republic have formed a natural border between Saxony and Bohemia for more than 800 years. The area played an important role in the development of the mining industry and its influence can still be seen in many technical landmarks and related objects on both sides of the border.

Dita Limová, head of the UNESCO Division in the Department of International Relations of the Culture Ministry, explains what makes the area so unique:

“As you know, ore mining in Krušné hory mountains dates back to the 12th century. The area was rich not only in silver or tin ore, but also cobalt and other minerals.

“The landscape on both sides of the border has been formed by the mining and processing of ore, and the industry has also left its mark on the urban development.

Krupka, photo: Czech Radio - Radio Prague
“Our nomination includes altogether 22 sites, 17 in Germany and five in the Czech Republic. They include not only historical town centres but also larger areas, with various monuments in the landscape.”

Among the sites nominated on the Czech side of the Ore Mountains are the historical mining towns of Krupka and Jáchymov with the surrounding shafts or the Lime Works in Háj, the oldest preserved lime works of their kind in the Czech Republic.

But there is also the so-called Red Tower of Death near Jáchymov, a seven-storey, red-brick building which served in the 1950s as the central sorting plant for uranium ore extracted in the former Czechoslovakia and supplied to the Soviet Union.

It is one of the last remaining monuments from the uranium ore dressing industry in the region but also a powerful monument to the political prisoners who were held in the nearby forced-labour camps in the 1950s.

Saxony proposed the idea of nominating selected mining sites for the UNESCO list already in 1998. The joint Czech-German nomination has been prepared since 2011. Dita Limová again:

Dita Limová, photo: Magdaléna Hrozínková
“We first submitted the nomination in 2014, but we were recommended to rewrite the application. This is what we have worked on over the past two years and I think the current nomination, the Mining Region of Krušnohoří, is even better than the previous one.

“It is a symbolic nomination that binds the German and Czech sides together, which is very nice to see, especially here in this very specific region of Krušné hory. I also have to say that all the involved municipalities and regions have been very active and cooperative.”

The Czech Republic and Germany have to submit the application to UNESCO by the end of January next year. The UNESCO intergovernmental committee will debate it at its meeting in 2019.