In July 2019, the World Heritage Committee decided about the inclusion of the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří mining cultural landscape on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The importance of the future World Heritage Site derives from its unique combination of 17 German and five Czech component parts. It illustrates the region's mining heritage and legacy - and is representative of many other mining communities.
The Erzgebirge is an outstanding and truly unique example of a cross-border region that was profoundly and irrevocably shaped by 800 years of almost continuous metal mining (from the 12th to the 20th century). Its rich deposits, predominantly of silver, but also of tin, cobalt and uranium, forged the character of the Erzgebirge and paved the way for pioneering accomplishments that had a lasting impact on the development of other mining regions across the globe.
Mining brought with it many new inventions that stood the test of time: the Ehrenfriedersdorfer Kunstgezeug water-pumping system (1540), the Nasspochwerke stamp mill (1507) and the large-scale water management system that supplied mines with motive water (from 1558). Its global reach was further consolidated by the outstanding writing that emerged from the region. This includes the first printed book on mining by Ulrich Rülein von Calw (1505), "De re metallica" and other writings by Georgius Agricola, and the book "Sylvicultura oeconomica oder haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht" (News and Instructions for the Natural Growing of Wild Trees) by Hans Carl von Carlowitz, who was also considered the father of sustainable forestry. Mining in the Erzgebirge was under government supervision, and impacted on all areas of society, with early mining regulations playing a decisive role here.
The first mining code was drawn up in Freiberg in 1300. The Annaberg mining code followed in 1509, and formed the basis for large parts of mining law. Mining codes provided for a manorial mining administration, which safeguarded miners' civil rights and decided on key economic and technical matters. In 1520, silver Thaler coins were minted in Jáchymov for the first time, and these remained the blueprint for many European countries' monetary systems for several centuries. They are now considered to be a precursor to the dollar. Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, founded in 1765, and the oldest mining education institution in the world, remains a leading training provider for the mining sector.