Interesting facts 

In the Realm of scanty Treasures

“The Alps are rich in poor mineral deposits,“ as the saying goes. This applies to the World Heritage Region too. There may not be many deposits, but they offer interesting insights into the harsh way people used to live in the mountains. At one time a lot of effort would be put into mining even the smallest deposits.

 

Blocks of beautifully mottled marble were discovered and quarried in Grindelwald in the 18th century. But the massive glacier advance after 1760 left the marble quarry covered in ice. After 1860 the glacier retreated again, exposing the site, and marble could be quarried again. But the deposit was of limited size, so quarrying was stopped in 1903. It is located near what is now the Marmorbruch (Marble Quarry) Restaurant above Grindelwald and can be visited.

Even if there are scarcely any valuable raw materials in the Alps as a whole, there is one kind of treasure in abundant supply: crystals, mainly in the form of colorless rock crystal and brown smoky quartz. In the Grimsel area in particular, in the east of the World Heritage Region, people have been finding in fissures beautiful crystals for centuries. They used to be delivered to Milan. Skillful craftsmen in the stone grinding manufactures of northern Italy would use the quartz to produce vases and the components of crystal chandeliers for princely and even royal houses. Crystal clefts are usually worked out down to the very last small piece of quartz, so it is rare for outsiders to get to see an untouched cleft. However, there is one unusual exception. During the construction of an access tunnel for the Oberhasli power stations in 1974, a huge crystal cavern was discovered. It was not exploited, but instead made accessible for visitors. (Information: www.grimselwelt.ch)