Local mining

The counts and princes as mining entrepreneurs

Braunfels Castle is located on a basalt cone which, like the surrounding hills, was formed by volcanic eruptions around 25 million years ago. Mining has a long tradition in this hilly landscape. It can even be traced back to Celtic times.

The Counts of Solms built a castle in Braunfels in the 13th century. They used building materials from local quarries: basalt, limestone, ‘Schalsteinv and slate. In 1495, the counts received the imperial mining privilege (Bergregal) and dug iron ore in the numerous mines in the area, e.g. in the Fortuna mine near Oberbiel. Count Conrad zu Solms-Braunfels founded the’ Aßlarer Hütte’ in 1587, which gained importance as the most important armory in Hesse. Numerous stove plates were also cast there, some of which can still be seen in the Princely Family Museum. They are an early example of the iron industry in Solms Land.

For a time, the Solms-Braunfels princes were the largest entrepreneurs in the Wetzlar mountain district. The iron ore was smelted in the company’s own blast furnaces: until about 1860 in the blast furnace of the ‘Oberndorfer Hütte’, then in the newly built ‘Georgshütte’ in Burgsolms. Profits from mining made it possible for the Braunfels Castle to be extensively rebuilded in the 1880s. In 1906 the pits were sold to Friedrich Krupp AG. The castle itself is still owned by the family today.

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