The town of Jáchymov

The Krušné Hory Mountains Gateway – The Mining Town of Jáchymov, a UNESCO Site

The Krušné Hory Mountains Gateway – The Mining Town of Jáchymov – an attractive spa and nowadays also a natural mountain resort makes accessible one of the best domestic ski resorts thanks to a modern chairlift leading from the Jáchymov valley to Klínovec in winter and summer. There is a unique in the Czech Republic, nearly 3 km long red trail. Its parameters, especially its width, can compare to any alpine slopes.

Today’s Jáchymov is not only a town with rich history, which in July 2019, along with other towns on the Czech and Saxon sides of the Krušné Hory Mountains, was listed as a mining site on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is also a place for regaining lost health, a place for rest and relaxation and offers countless possibilities for summer and winter sports. It is a natural centre of tourism of the central Krušné Hory Mountains region.

At the beginning of the 16th century, a rich silver deposit was found in the local valley, so in 1516 the owner of the Ostrov estate, Count Štěpán Šlik, decided to establish the town of Thaler. Later the town received the name of St. Jáchym, St. Joachimsthal – Jáchymov. In 1520, the newly founded town was promoted by the Czech King Louis Jagellon to a free mining town. The population grew, and in 1534 Jáchymov has over 18,000 inhabitants and becomes the second most populous town in Bohemia.

Money was also made from Jáchymov silver. In the mint of Counts Šlik the history of the coin denoted by the origin of the place “Thaler” – a “tolar” began, from which the present dollar is also derived.

The rich deposit also attracted many artists and distinguished scholars. Jáchymov became one of the centres of Renaissance and education in the Czech Kingdom. Let us mention Georgia Agricola, who worked in the town as a doctor in 1527–1531. He was the founder of modern mineralogy and mining science.

The library of the Latin school with a number of valuable prints still reminds us of Jáchymov as the centre of humanism and Renaissance. Some of them are exhibited in the building of the former Royal Mint, today’s museum.

The fate of the town of Jáchymov

Pitchblende became the fatal raw material for Jáchymov. It was the mineral that miners found where there was no longer silver. It was used to colour glass in yellow and green. In 1898, Mr. and Mrs. Curie discovered the chemical elements of polonium and radium from the waste in the manufacture of paints. Jáchymov gained a monopoly on the production of radium, which it maintained until the beginning of World War I. The discovery of radioactivity in Jáchymov mine waters also contributed to the restoration of world importance. In 1906 the first radon spa in the world was founded in Jáchymov.

In 1918 Jáchymov became part of newly formed Czechoslovakia. During the First Republic it was visited by many famous people, for example, in 1925 by Marie Curie-Sklodowska, who went down the shaft of the Svornost mine. The first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was in Jáchymov even seven times.

In the 1950s, Jáchymov became synonymous with the uranium looting and communist labour camps – the well-known “Jáchymov Hell”. People convicted in fabricated political processes were forced to work in inhuman conditions here. They were exposed not only to the harsh climate of the Krušné Hory Mountains, but also to sadistic guards and fellow prisoners, and last but not least, to radioactive radiation. The term “mukl” – the man destined for liquidation – speaks for itself.

We are reminded of the glorious past of the town by a number of cultural monuments and valuable buildings in the urban conservation area, which was proclaimed in 1992. The communist regime and, unfortunately, also some contemporary owners who acquired the historic buildings after the Velvet Revolution but do not live in the town have brought them to the state, in which they are today. Many buildings have also already disappeared from the town forever. However, at the threshold of the new millennium, when it celebrated its 500th anniversary, Jáchymov is gaining its former lustre thanks to extensive reconstructions.

What should you not miss in Jáchymov?

  • Church of Saint Jáchym
  • Spa promenades 
  • Radon’s Path
  • Historic Town Hall
  • Royal Mint 
  • Svornost Mine