story and photos by Cheryl Koller
A friend of mine told me about a super cool tour she took back in the Fall, so I decided to check it out and share it with you all. Have you heard about the Copper Mine of Fischbach? In German, it is the Kupferbergwerk Fischbach.
It is in the village of Fischbach (obviously) and is less than an one hour drive from the Kaiserslautern area. I was fully prepared to arrive, do a quick tour and take some pictures. What I did not know was that a wonderfully energetic gentleman named Nicolai Bollenbach “Nico” would be so excited to have an American writing about his Copper Mines that he would take me and my guests on a very detailed 1 ½ hour tour! Nico is the Betriebsleiter or Manager of the mines and he loves to practice his English. We had a lot of fun with him!
The tour is normally about one hour long. Starting in mid-February and ending in mid-November, they open daily at 10 a.m. We decided to get there just in time for the first tour. We paid 14 Euros for three adults, but he actually gave us the one adult with two children rate. I have no idea why, but we were not going to argue! Our tour started with a quick hike of about 400 meters UPHILL.
This might be a good time to recommend that you wear comfy walking shoes. I did not. Nevertheless, the walk was easy enough and we arrived at the mine entrance where we were told that we would be required to wear hard hats. Wait, what? Oh, only for safety in case of falling rocks. I felt so much better. He reassured us that no one has been injured from falling rocks. Cool, let’s go mining!
Unexpected Fun and More
I can’t even begin to describe this day. We had so much fun, which was a bit unexpected. I know I should be more open to these experiences, but I have just never had an interest in copper mines. Well, that was until I met Nico. I will give you a brief list of the things we learned, because I do not want to spoil the surprises for you. Let’s just say that I now know more about the French Revolution and the 30 Year War along with stalactites (tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cave); how to prospect a mine; why mineworkers actually did look like Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs; and what a twelve hour day in the life of a mineworker was like. Did you know that if a mineworker shows up late for work two times IN HIS LIFETIME, he could be put to death? Yea, me neither. I also did not know that miners believed in ghosts and fairy dust. We saw both.
As you can imagine, the mine is damp and cold inside. However, it is very well lit and we did get to see a lot of fun stuff. Things like Malachite and Azurite, which are apparently signs that let the miners know copper ore is below. We even got to see and touch a “baby gemstone” that was being formed. A blue-green color seemed out of place among the plain rocks, but it was breathtakingly beautiful. We were encouraged to touch it – then he told us it would be worth about 15,000 Euros if they mined it. YIKES!
Tours and Special Events
Outside the mine is the Copper Hut where all of the processing takes place. If you go after April 1st, this part of the tour will be open to the public as well. It is a great demonstration of how the potential copper was removed from the mine, crushed, melted and then became actual copper.
Another part of the mine is only open after April 1st. That’s when the bats wake up and fly out of the mine. Yes, that’s right. BATS! We were allowed to go into this mine for about 10 minutes to see the bats as they slept. I tried to take a couple of pictures, but I was too worried that my flash would wake one and I knew I would freak out. We also got a quick lesson on bats and their hibernation. Nico was really a wealth of information!
It was impressive to watch the whole mining process, and I would imagine anyone with kids would find this to be a great and educational trip. A visit to Fishbach Copper Mine is fun for the whole family!
Some other great things about the tour options: If you have a party of 15 or more, you can do some pretty cool stuff at the mines. They have an “event room” that is a large area in the mine where you can have birthday parties, weddings, catered dinner, wine tastings, etc.
A couple of times per year they have concerts inside the mine. They also offer tours with a dungeon theme during Halloween and a religious ceremony during the Christmas season. I will definitely be going back to experience these and will let you know how they turn out.
The mine is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last tour starting around 4:15 p.m. Prices are 6,50 Euros for adults and 4 Euros for children ages 5-16. They also have family and group rates available. The telephone number is +49 (0) 678 5 7 9103. The address is Hosenbachstrasse 17, Fischbach 55743.
Happy Mining! If you run into Nico, please tell him “Gluck Auf!” from me.
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How to Get There
Fischbach is under one hour northwest of Kaiserslautern, one hour and twenty minutes southwest of Wiesbaden and two hours and forty-five minutes northwest of Stuttgart. Click on DB Bahn for train information.
Author’s Profile: Cheryl Koller is a native of Georgia. She is a DOD Spouse, mom of 4 daughters (2 adult, 2 teens), thrill-seeker, avid traveler, and lover of food and wine. She is a self-proclaimed Freedom-Prenuer and a Blogger currently living in Ramstein with her family.