Festung Königstein gGmbH

The History of the Well
and the Water Extraction

Exhibition in the Well House

Opening hours: April – October: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. | November - March : 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Well House

Family friendliness: interactive models, child-friendly texts

Accessibility: companion for wheelchair users recommended | no access with strollers

Photography: allowed for private use without flash | photo permission required for commercial use

The History of the Well and the Water Extraction

With its depth of 152.5 meters, the well at Königstein Fortress is the deepest one of its kind in Saxony and the second deepest one in Germany. It was sunk between 1566 and 1569 at the behest of Elector Augustus to secure the future fortress’s water supply. The work was done by miners from the Ore Mountains headed by their foreman Martin Planer. Their chisels’ marks are still visible in the well’s shaft.

To protect the vital water, a wooden well house was built shortly after the well was finished. Even later buildings were only constructed in timber-frame. Had the fortress been bombarded, the well would have been destroyed. Only the Well House built in 1735, which still exists, had an up to 4 meters strong, bomb-proof sandstone vault. In the late 19th century, an additional subceiling of granite stamped concrete resting on steel beams was added.

Exhibition highlights

Direct view into the illuminated well shaft

A model on a scale of 1:10 shows how the well was sunk by miners from Marienberg around 450 years ago.

Replica of the huge treadwheel

Demonstration of water pumping with the electric motor from 1911 (April - October)

Interactive models illustrate the functioning of the earlier pumping techniques

From the Horse Mill to the Electric Engine

When the well was finished, the water was transported upwards by means of a horse mill, as it was known in mining. Its functioning is playfully demonstrated through a model that can be moved by turning a winder.

In the 17th century, the horse mill was replaced by a treadmill with a diameter of seven meters. In it, four men had to make 28,000 steps every day to carry the ton filled with water up 36 times. A reproduction of this treadmill in the original size shows the gigantic dimensions of this water extraction technology. Additionally, an animated film illustrates the monotonous work which socagers, prisoners or garrison soldiers were obliged to do.

Later, the power for the water extraction came from a wall steam engine (from 1871) and an electric engine (from 1911). In 1967, the water extraction was abandoned and the fortress was connected to the public drinking water supply system. Since 1997, the water extraction technology is demonstrated using the restored electric engine from 1911.

Festung Königstein gGmbH
01824 Königstein

Phone: +49 (0)35021 64 607

Opening hours

April - October 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
November - March 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Last admission 1 hour before closing time