Hunting for treasure in EdelSteinLand

It feels like a fairy tale. Sparkling treasures and centuries-old minerals can be found buried deep under the earth around Idar-Oberstein. You can discover quartz, agate, jasper, amethyst and rock crystal at the gemstone mines in Steinkaulenberg. They are the only accessible mineral mines in the whole of Europe.

The underground gemstone mines in Steinkaulenberg in Idar-Oberstein, EdelSteinLand

The underground gemstone mines in Steinkaulenberg in Idar-Oberstein, EdelSteinLand

The impressive floodlighting and clever lighting in the 400‑metre visitor tunnels create a magical, mysterious atmosphere. There is also a gemstone camp where visitors, mainly children and young people, can use picks, axes and spades to search disused spoil tips for minerals and take what they find home with them.

The first agate polishing workshop was built in 1634, around 1.5 kilometres east of Steinkaulenberg, and is still in existence today as the Historic ‘Weiherschleife’ Cutting Mill Museum. One hundred years ago, there were still around 48 water polishing workshops on a 20‑kilometre stretch of the river between Allenbach and Oberstein to the point where the Idarbach flows into the Nahe. These workshops conjured up jewellery out of raw gemstones. The agate polishers created a whole new industry segment through their skill, hard work and pioneering spirit.

It was hard work. They lay on a traditional chair for hours on end in the cold workshop and were exposed to the extremely loud noise of the polishing all day long. In a lying position, they were able to use both arms for leverage. This chair can be seen in the Historic ‘Weiherschleife’ Cutting Mill, along with other hand tools and the big grinding wheels.

Visitors can use large sand screens to prospect for the precious minerals in a large covered sandpit full of minerals from all over the world. Success is guaranteed. There are big sandstone grinding wheels where visitors can give the gems they have found a final polish. There is also an old polishing wheel to release the fascinating fire so beloved of fans of gemstones.

Polishing gemstones at the Historic ‘Weiherschleife’ Cutting Mill in Idar-Oberstein

Polishing gemstones at the Historic ‘Weiherschleife’ Cutting Mill in Idar-Oberstein

The German Gemstone Museum housed in a late 19th century villa in Idar has been showcasing gemstones and jewellery made in the workshops around Idar-Oberstein for 150 years. The 10,000 exhibits include gemstones from the region and around the world. The most exquisite pieces are contained in a treasure chamber that is also home to the most famous diamonds in the world. They have been reproduced in zirconia.

The German Gemstone Museum in Idar-Oberstein, EdelSteinLand

The decorative facade of the German Gemstone Museum in Idar-Oberstein, EdelSteinLand

You can see ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ in the German Mineral Museum in the old town of Oberstein below the Felsenkirche church, at the foot of the rocky cliffs. The seven-stage amethyst vug is so large even an adult can stand inside it. Just a few steps away, there are still working machines rattling away in the Jakob Bengel Industrial Monument. The former chain and jewellery factory is the birthplace of Art Deco jewellery.

The Edelstein Adventure World uses clever coloured lighting to showcase gemstones, crystals and minerals in caves and grottos with bubbling springs and even a fiery volcano.

More recommended excursions for active culture and nature lovers in Idar-Oberstein:

More information about holidays in Idar-Oberstein

Find out everything about events, sights and more destinations in Idar-Oberstein at the EdelSteinLand Tourist Information.

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3:45 h
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19,3 km

6:25 h
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19,6 km

7:00 h
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