Untersberg marble

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Vienna plague column made of Untersberg marble

The Unterberger marble is a versatile processed limestone . Its name with the addition of " marble " refers to its use as a sculptural and decorative stone, is historically shaped and is still common today, especially with stonemasons , as this limestone can be processed and polished like marble.

The stone is and was broken on the northern slope of the Untersberg in the Northern Limestone Alps near Fürstenbrunn ( Salzburg ). The marble works is located in the municipality of Grödig , abandoned mining sites stretch as far as Großgmain . The Untersberg Museum , which documents the dismantling, is not located in the current quarry itself, but below in Fürstenbrunn.


Main facade of Salzburg Cathedral made of selected light Untersberg marble (restored in 1998)

Untersberg marble was already quarried in Roman times. In the Veitlbruch, which has not been in operation since 1919, stone fragments from the Romans were found in an overburden dump, which are exhibited in the Untersberg Museum in Fürstenbrunn. Until 1703 the quarry was operated by the archbishop's court building authority. The bishops and nobles, such as those of Baron Friedrich von Löwenstern , owned the quarries before the marble industry Kiefer  AG (at that time Kiefersfelden in Bavaria, today in Oberalm ) bought them. In 1887 the Kiefer AG acquired the quarries of the Untersberg and the main factory in Oberalm, including the Adnet marble quarries, from Freiherr von Löwenstern . The quarries that were acquired were the Hofbruch, Neu-, Mittel- and Veitlbruch .
Today Untersberg marble is only quarried in two quarries, in the large jaw quarry and the smaller Mayr-Melnhof quarry above.

Origin and trade varieties

The rock originated in the Upper Chalk as part of the Gosau Group . Limestones are sedimentary rocks (deposit rocks). Fragments of dead snails, mussels, etc. made of lime are deposited in this limestone. The very dense natural stones are composed of fine to occasionally coarse-grained limestone fragments and pebbles, which are cemented by calcite , so it is more precisely to speak of a conglomerate .

The natural stone types in the Untersberg vary in color from light beige (with red spots) to pink and reddish, rarely yellow. The light yellow Untersberger Hell , the trout stone also known as trout marble because of the red dots, the reddish veined Untersberger pink and the Untersberger yellow are common in trade .

The tightness and strength make this natural stone weatherproof. The depth of penetration of water is only a few tenths of a millimeter. It can be polished. It is very suitable for stone carving work as it enables filigree elaborations. Untersberg marble was widespread in figural stone carving in Central Europe in the 16th century.


Until around 1900, stones were extracted using the traditional wedge technique with stone splitting tools , after which wire saws with spiral wire were used. Today diamond wire saws and chain cutting machines are mainly used to extract limestone . The Untersberg marble has recently been mined underground. In Italy, the underground mining of Carrara marble has a long tradition. In Austria, the main advantage of using this technology is that the overburden, in some cases over 10 meters high, does not have to be costly cleared away, there is also no impairment of the landscape and the noise that is generated hardly penetrates outside from underground.


Sarcophagus of Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck made from Untersberg marble

Numerous sculptures were made from Untersberg marble. Numerous stone sculptors and architects used this natural stone, especially in the 17th century, such as Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and his son Joseph Emanuel , Georg Raphael Donner and later Fritz Schaper , Edmund Hellmer , Joseph Uphues , Otto March , Wolfgang Wallner , and others. In the Wilhelminian era , this limestone was used for building facades, fountains, statues, staircases and tombs, especially in Austria-Hungary and Germany.

Untersberg museum with ball mill

In 1989 a small museum of marble mining was set up in Fürstenbrunn / Grödig, in the historic Kieferbruch , below the current quarries, on the outskirts of Fürstenbrunn. There is also a ball mill in operation, which produces small stone balls from the attractive rock . Originally, these mills were used in the Salzburg area to produce cannon balls for the Hohensalzburg Archbishop's Fortress . Today there are examples of this historical ammunition in the museum. When stone projectiles were no longer needed, the production of ornaments was switched to.

See also


  • Alois Kieslinger : The usable rocks of Salzburg . Das Bergland-Buch, Salzburg et al. 1964 (= communications from the Society for Salzburg Regional Studies, supplementary volume 4).
  • Alois Kieslinger, Salzburg marble in the art of two millennia . In. Negotiations of the Federal Geological Institute , special issue G, Vienna 1965, pp. 313–316. (also journal of the German Geological Society 116; pdf , geologie.ac.at).
  • Marmorindustrie Kiefer AG (Ed.): Memorandum on the development of the joint stock company for marble industry Kiefer in Kiefersfelden in the first twenty-five years of its existence, 1883-1908. Bruckmann, Munich undated (1908)

Web links

Commons : Untersberger Marmor  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Kieslinger, 1965

Coordinates: 47 ° 44 ′ 12 ″  N , 12 ° 59 ′ 44 ″  E