Bergwerk Villaders
Bergwerk Villaders

Villandro Silver Mine

In the Val di Tinne, a remote valley near the Villandro Alp, the St. Elizabeth Gallery is located, which is still accessible today

It was the year 1130 when the "mons argenti", the Silver Mountain of Villandro, was first mentioned. At that time it was given to the Augustinian Monastery of Novacella near Bressanone. Barbarossa confirmed this donation in Venice in 1177, which guaranteed the newly founded monastery good income. Even a fortress was built a bit later at the foot of the mine to protect it. The Villandro Silver Mine - "Silberbergwerk Villanders" in German, "Miniera d'argento di Villandro" in Italian - experienced its heyday in the 16th century. The area was also one of the most important ore mining areas in Tyrol in the Middle Ages.

Initially in search of precious metals such as gold and silver, the intentions became more realistic over time. The miners, whose life expectancy at that time was not more than 40 years, confined themselves to the search for copper, pyrite and zinc. The main extraction area of the Villandro or Fundres Mine, "Rotlahn", was developed over the centuries by numerous galleries, first those at higher altitudes and then some below. The mountain was downright perforated by a network of 25 km of tracks. In the 20th century the mine was abandoned and fell into oblivion.

Only a few years ago the St. Elizabeth and St. Lawrence Galleries were extensively restored. Today the Cultural and Museum Association of Villandro offers interesting guided tours that take you on a journey into the past in one of the few mines of South Tyrol. And how to reach the Villandro Silver Mine in the Valle Isarco valley? From the "Mühlele" tavern towards Lazfons starts a beautiful but demanding hike, which first leads to the miners' church of St. Anna at 1,133 m a.s.l. and then further on to the mine (2.5 hours). The views on the Dolomites are unique. Alternatively, there is a parking space 300 m below the gallery for those arriving by car.

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The Villandro Mine stays open from Easter to October, season start 2024 at the end of March.

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