Great Copper Mountain

Falun, Sweden

Great Copper Mountain (Stora Kopparberg) was a mine that operated for a millennium from the 10th century to 1992. It produced as much as two thirds of Europe's copper needs and helped fund many of Sweden's wars in the 17th century. Technological developments at the mine had a profound influence on mining globally for two centuries. Since 2001 it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a museum.

Archaeological and geological studies indicate, with considerable uncertainty, that mining operations started sometime around the year 1000. Objects from the 10th century have been found containing copper from the mine. In the beginning, operations were of a small scale, with local farmers gathering ore,smelting it, and using the metal for household needs. Around the time of Magnus III of Sweden, King of Sweden from 1275 to 1290, a more professional operation began to take place. Nobles and foreign merchants from Lübeck had taken over from farmers. The merchants transported and sold the copper in Europe, but also influenced the operations and developed the methods and technology used for mining. The first written document about the mine is from 1288. It records that, in exchange for an estate, the Bishop of Västerås acquired a 12.5% interest in the mine. By the mid 14th century, the mine had grown into a vital national resource and a large part of the revenues for the Swedish state in the coming centuries would be from the mine. The then King, Magnus IV of Sweden, visited the area personally and drafted a charter for mining operations, ensuring the financial interest of the sovereign.

In the 17th century, production capacity peaked. During this time, the output from the mine was used to fund expansionary politics of Sweden during its great power era. The Privy Council of Sweden referred to the mine as the nation's treasury and stronghold. The point of maximum production occurred in 1650, with over 3,000 tonnes of copper produced.

Copper production was declining during the 18th century and the mining company began diversifying. It supplemented the copper extraction with iron and timber production. In 1881 gold was discovered in the Great Copper Mountain, resulting in a short-lived gold rush. But there was no escaping the fact that the mine was no longer economically viable. On December 8, 1992 the last shot was fired in the mine and all commercial mining ceased. Today the mine is owned by the Stora Kopparberget foundation which operates the museum and tours.



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Founded: ca. 1000 AD
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Sweden
Historical period: Viking Age (Sweden)


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Erkki J (12 months ago)
Exceptional experience! The guided tour is a must-have and also have a stroll in the museum. The history of the mine and how it plays a part in the history of Sweden is noteworthy.
Sadat Mohiuddin (13 months ago)
This was an excellent experience. I never visited a mine before. The mine was represented in state what is it used to look like 200 years ago. You really get a sense of how mining used to work and the tour guide was great. Make sure you have proper shoes on as sometimes it’s could to be slippery.
Frank Hefner (17 months ago)
A must visit if you are in Falun. You can take a guided tour that takes you 67m down in the mine. A museum and a gift shop is there too. Also a placento eat and a playground.
Tommie Kajtner (Tommie) (2 years ago)
I had a great visit with my wife during the Christmas market. Interesting museum that cover the history of the mine and a nice walk with guide/information signs to tell you about the area.
NOWISIMON (2 years ago)
Wonderful experience. I've been in many natural caves before, but did not know the difference in feel to a mine. Great experience. The only downside was the timing of the underground tour. We had to wait 4 hours to be able to join a tour because we were with 2 people and there was only one spot left on the earlier tour. When we finally did our underground tour it was obvious they could have easily fitted us to the earlier tour. I guess the staff at the reception could have been a little more flexible and informative about this.
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