We take a trip to a town which was shaped by 800 years of mining: Freiberg, a town located halfway between Chemnitz and Dresden. The historical town centre, the Municipal and Mining Museum and the cathedral of Freiberg are popular and well known by tourists and invite to explore. However our destination is another one…

The entrance of the Castle Freudenstein pretends to hold a typical, historical exhibition for its guests, full of antiquities including an art gallery of the princes and similar. But already at the entrance area one is convinced by the contrary. Gaudy colours and modern architecture surprise the visitor. Surrounded by magenta and purple one gets welcomed by the magnificent bright colours foreshadowing the colours which are going to follow in form of countless minerals.

minerale-wohin-das-auge-reicht

Minerals as far as you can see.

Since 2008 the world-wide known exhibition of minerals “terra minerlia” is located in Castle Freudenstein. The castle was built during the twelfth century and reconstructed to a Renaissance castle in the middle of the sixteenth century. After that it temporarily functioned as grain silo and during the war it was a military hospital. For a long time, the castle wasn’t used at all. The exhibition of the minerals gave reason to remediate the castle completely. Today it fascinates people with its simple and timeless modernity of the interior as contrast to its impressive façade.

Once you stepped into the exhibition you can’t resist its presence! More than 3.500 minerals, mostly extraordinary and unique in its shape and colour, are presented in glass cabinets on an area of more than 1.500 square metres. The exhibition is arranged according to geographical aspects, so the visitors are invited to move from continent to continent admiring the various gems from all around the world. Every mineral is presented with a special lighting of the glass cabinets and well-signposted by its name and deposit. The different showrooms are already an architectonical masterpiece on their own and its equipment perfectly represents the beauty of the sparkling and extraordinary gemstones and minerals.

Moreover, the museum offers workshops as well as different experiments, so that visitors as well as students are not only able to watch but even to explore the minerals. Even a special science centre was designed for pupils so that they have the chance to discover their enthusiasm for natural sciences and to learn about subjects like chemistry or geography in an exciting new way besides the lessons at school.

The exhibition shows its visitors the importance and value of the minerals for today’s world and how they have shaped and changed everyday life. Without minerals like quartz microelectronics couldn’t develop as fast as now and we wouldn’t even have computers or mobiles.

But where are all those minerals from and who is responsible for these great and world-wide admired collection? In the museum shop she is smiling from a painting: Erika Pohl-Ströher, passionate collector of minerals and original owner of most of the exhibits of the “terra mineralia”. She was born near Wurzen and grew up in the small town of Rothenkirchen in the Vogtland area. For more than sixty years she collected extraordinary and aesthetic minerals from all over the world and decided in 2004 to give a great part of her collection as a permanent loan to Prof. Dr. Georg Unland, former director of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the world’s oldest mining school.

schloss-freudenstein

Visiting the exhibition “terra mineralia” grown-ups as well as children get their money worth. Old plank floor, rustic wooden beams and the timeless design of the exhibition together with its fascinating and magnificent minerals, gemstones and meteorites are the aspects that make “terra mineralia” as unique as it is. This combination makes the museum of Freiberg even stand out next to the collections of minerals in Paris or London. Therefore, it should be definitely on your To Do List during your trip in Saxony!

All photos ©Kai Bergmann