This vast maze of retired mining tunnels is an adventurous way to see geology and get closer to mining history. In fact, it’s the only site in Europe where one can tour a real mine. Caverns feature agate, amethyst, smoky quartz, calcite, and mystic pools, illuminated to stunning effect.
This iconic medieval church, linked to the tale of Count Wyrich above, is set high into a cliff face above Oberstein. To enter, visitors must take a tunnel and ascend 230 steps. The chapel houses a crucifix of natural, locally-sourced agate, an organ more than 250 years old, a Gothic baptismal font, and a burbling natural spring.
Weiher-Schleife Grinding Mill
Before electricity, rotary cutting or polishing depended on some force great enough to propel a massive wheel. The steady waters of the Nahe river, which flows through Idar-Oberstein, supported a mill-powered stone cutting and polishing industry adjacent to mines, maximizing efficiency. To cut or polish using a traditional setup, workers laid on angled planks in front of enormous limestone wheels sluiced with water. These days, Idar-Oberstein’s artisans use the most advanced lapidary tools, but for the curious visitor, the Weiher-Schleife grinding mill keeps the pre-electric tradition alive and holds demonstrations.