The site

The Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří (Ore Mountains) is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the south-eastern part of Germany's Saxony region and the north-western part of Czechia. This transboundary region is renowned for its significant mining history and cultural landscape shaped by centuries of mining activities. The Ore Mountains were a vital source of various metals, and the mining industry played a crucial role in the development and prosperity of the region.

The cultural landscape of the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří encompasses not only the mines themselves but also the mining towns and settlements that emerged alongside them. These towns, with their unique urban layouts and architectural styles, reflect their historical importance as administrative, economic, educational, and cultural centres. The region's wealth during the 15th and 16th centuries, particularly from silver mining, left a lasting impact on the landscape and shaped the towns' distinct identities.

Among the notable landmarks within the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří is Lauenstein Castle, a gem of Saxon Renaissance architecture. Situated in close proximity to the Czech Republic border, the castle holds great significance for those interested in art and culture. With over 700 years of history, Lauenstein Castle stands as a testament to Saxon heritage.

The castle, originally built in the late 12th century, sits majestically atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Müglitz River. Throughout its existence, Lauenstein Castle underwent transformations and renovations. From the 16th century onwards, it was extensively reconstructed into an official administrative residence by Hans Münzer, a prominent mine owner and councillor from Freiberg.

The main building of Lauenstein Castle showcases exceptional Renaissance architecture. Noteworthy features include a magnificent two-bay, cross-vaulted armorial hall adorned with a stunning stucco ceiling from around 1600. The castle is also distinguished by 23 intricately carved sandstone console stones, resembling human heads, which are unique examples of craftsmanship from the same period. These elements contribute to the castle's rich interior design.

Lauenstein Castle holds not only architectural significance but also cultural importance. Over the centuries, it served as a prominent administrative centre and played a pivotal role in the economic and cultural development of the Ore Mountains region. Today, the castle is owned by the Town of Altenberg and houses the Eastern Ore Mountains Museum, where visitors can explore the fascinating history and heritage of the area.

In 2019, Lauenstein Castle, together with the nearby church of St. Mary and Laurent, became recognised as components of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region. This prestigious designation highlights the outstanding value of Lauenstein Castle as a historical and architectural treasure connected to the mining heritage of the Ore Mountains.

Although the Castle boasts a history of over 700 years, the settlement was only recognised as a town, receiving its first market rights, several decades after the castle's establishment. This year marks the 650th anniversary of the town of Lauenstein, and the European Heritage Volunteers Training Course will contribute to the celebratory atmosphere in the region for this significant milestone.


The training course

The European Heritage Training Course will continue the conservation and restoration of wall paintings from the Renaissance period and the 19th century found throughout the expansive ensemble, which had been started with the European Heritage Training Course in 2023.

In the roof floor of the main building, which is the most adorned and representative part of the ensemble, under several layers of limewash a complete collection of wall paintings from Renaissance period is preserved. These artworks feature geometric patterns as well as an impressive hunting scene. Due to the roof floor's disuse throughout centuries, the paintings have been relatively well preserved despite their age of over four hundred years. However, as the roof is not insulated, the paintings have been exposed to fluctuations in temperature and humidity more than if they were in an occupied area of the building.

On the ground floor of one of the buildings in the former economic section of the ensemble, under several layers of limewash valuable wall paintings from the 19th century are conserved, partly overlaying an older layer of paintings. The building's exact historical use remains unknown; during the 20th century the upper floor was used for residential purposes while the ground floor, where the wall paintings are located, served as a storage area and laundry. The paintings depict fascinating figural motifs related to agriculture, including images of animals and beekeeping. Unfortunately, improper past use of the building has led to mechanical damages, disassociated layers of plaster, and pollution by salts, endangering big parts of the wall paintings.

The participants in the training course will carry out urgently needed interventions to safeguard the precious paintings in both sections of the complex. In the roof floor of the main building, the focus will lay on uncovering of the Renaissance wall paintings by removing younger layers of limewash, fixation and conservation measures. In the building of the former economic section, the initial step will concentrate on fixation, desalting, and other conservation measures, followed by the uncovering of the wall paintings by removing later layers. This latter task holds particular significance, as the castle administration is currently developing an overall concept for the unused parts of the ensemble, and the discovered motifs may inform decisions about the building's future use based on its historical function. Linked with this aim, this year the works will not only continue the interventions carried out in 2023 in the ground floor, but include also areas in the staircase and the upper floor.

Two conservators-restorers will guide the works. One of them is a restorer-conservator from the region with extensive experience at Lauenstein Castle and familiarity with local traditions and techniques, the other one is an experienced conservator-restorer of wall paintings from abroad, who is part of the European Heritage Volunteers Network and has comprehensive experience leading training courses in the context of the programme throughout Europe.

The educational program will feature guided tours, lectures, and an excursion to other heritage sites in the region that share historical connections with Lauenstein Castle. Since the castle is an integral part of the history and developments that emerged from the mining tradition in the Ore Mountains region, the participants will also be invited to join visits that will provide them an insight into the rich mining heritage of the UNESCO World Heritage mining region.

Within the scope of the training course’s activities, the participants will also have opportunities to engage with the local community to the heritage site. They will present case studies on wall paintings from their respective countries of origin, showcasing similarities to the situation at Lauenstein Castle to a wider audience, including heritage professionals in the area.


The training course will take place from July 21st, to August 03rd, 2024, and is organised by European Heritage Volunteers in collaboration with the Eastern Ore Mountains Museum Schloss Lauenstein, and the Saxon State Office for the Conservation of Monuments.

The training course is part of the World Heritage Volunteers campaign for 2024, a worldwide initiative taking place yearly within the framework of the World Heritage Education Programme at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 

European Heritage Volunteers