Silver Mine VillandersVillanders / Villandro • Oberland 36
About Silver Mine Villanders
The mine in Villanders-Villandro offers an insight into history of mining.
The mine at Pfunderer Mountain was first mentioned in historical documents in 1140 AD and was given by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa to the Neustift monastery in 1177. The entire Villanderer Mountain is perforated with mine shafts. Within an elevation difference of 750 m. (2,500 ft.), sixteen tunnels were bored over the centuries. The entire network measures 16.5 km. (10 miles), of which two thirds were excavated by hand and one third were blasted with explosives. A variety of minerals were removed through 1943, especially lead (in the form of galena), copper, iron pyrites, zinc blende, iron sulfite, and silver. The historic mines of Villanders reached their peak in the first half of the 16th century with a great number of employees. Beginning in the second half of the 16th century, the ore deposits slowly began to diminish. In spite of all of the setbacks, ore production also continued in subsequent centuries, with a short boom from 1893 until 1908, when the mining activity ceased, and during World War II, when it was briefly resumed in 1943. The 1,670 m. (5,479 ft.) long Elizabeth Tunnel at an elevation of 1,292 m. (4,239 feet) was set up in the 1990s as an exhibition tunnel and has been open for visits since 2005. It provides a view of traditional ore removal methods, the production, and the processing as well as the working conditions for the miners, who had a life expectancy of 35 to 40 years.