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Jáchymov - a quick visit

Last Updated: 3rd Jul 2019

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

This isn't quite a live report as I'm now in Poland, internet in the Czech Republic was too poor to be able to do the live report 'live'. But the visit was too important not to document, so here's our flying visit to Jáchymov in the Czech Republic documented. Arriving late yesterday evening, we passed the impressive 'Hotel Radium'. Of course this town is famous for Uranium mining and the Uranium ore from the mines in this area was used by Madam Curie to first identify the new element Radium.

Here is the impressive site of the Svornst mine.

Our main reason to visit was the museum, the Muzeum Kralovska mincovna Jachymov. We didn't really know much about it in advance other than it was originally the Royal Mint and holds a small mineral collection. So we decided to go in.

Entrance was inexpensive, and the very first room we entered was the mineral room.

The first thing I was drawn to was this old Soviet XRD system. D`ials and switches are labelled in Russian, with stickers written in Czech on certain parts.

A notebook left by the machine (which curiously has a western style keyboard rather than cyrillic) shows the handwritten d spacings for Tilasite and Brandite noted down.

The first case of specimens shows slices of ore veins with minerals such as nickel arsenides, arsenic and silver highlighted.

Second case

Overview of the first two cases, showing some of the larger pieces below.

Of course the most exciting things there are the Uranium minerals.

Another rare radioactive. Most museums shy away from displaying radioactive minerals these days.


Cuprosklodowskite and Uranophane


And some less energetic samples too

Lots of unusual secondary minerals.


Another cabinet of radioactive secondaries and post-mining minerals stored in plastic bags to stop them dehydrating.

Moving on through the museum to see exhibits on early mining and smelting, such as this early device for smelting ore.

Plenty of archaelogical remains from early mining.

One room is dedicated to a large animated model showing early mining in the region - excellent!

My Czech and German are a bit rusty, but I believe this is Geogius Agricola, who in 1556 became the first lead singer of Metallica. He may also have written a book.

No self-respecting UV display is the same without a selection of dangerous radioactive glassware.

Upstairs, a more sobering display highlights the use of forced labour from around 1949 onwards to mine Uranium. Political prisoners were often condemned to an early death in the hazardous mining operations driven by the demand for nuclear materials by the Soviets.

Aerial photo of one of the concentration camps for uranium mining at the time.

Location of the mines and camps relative to Jáchymov (on the right of the map)

A panel detailing, in Czech and English, the early history of the mining region.

Further on, we found the library. But wait, this is no ordinary library. This houses an incredible collection of very old and very rare books!

Old books! Lovely old books!

The history of the library!

One of the earliest books to list different minerals and how to identify them.

When he wasn't performing Heavy Metal, Agricola was busy writing the first real book on mining techniques.

Moving on, we find some charming old mining models. These were made in almost every mining district worldwide at around this time.

Katya is taking a photo of some vials that are labelled as being various uranium salts. I do hope they are fake!

They do look very un-fake to me.

Diagram showing the different processing stages and output of the raw pitchblende (uraninite) ore.

Another mining model.

Of course, once the radioactive properties of uranium and radium were discovered what did people do with them? They thought they had great medicinal use!

A selection of containers and other items relating to the radioactive spar treatments. Naturally radioactive water spa treatments are still offered to this day in the town, and are a big draw for many tourists.

Down in the cellar they have a reconstruction showing how some of the smelting of silver ore would have been done in this very building.

And of course, being the old Royal Mint, they have a fabulous collection of historical coins, with this pair dating back to Boleslav 1 (935-972AD)

Let's finish with some more minerals

Sodium Zippeite


Znucalite - one of those boring mineral names that is simply the major elements strung together. Unless you like that sort of thing in which case pyrite should be fesite, calcite should be cacoite, and eudialyte should be nacafemnsrsiooohhoohclite.


A little text, in two languages I can't read, talking about the UNESCO status of the area. This brings this not-quite-live report to a close, thank you for watching, tomorrow I start the reporting at the Luban mineral show (Crystaldays) here in Poland! Stay tuned!

Article has been viewed at least 1332 times.


Great report Jolyon! We visited the museum 3 years ago and found it quite interesting. One of my favorite displays was of the type locality minerals from Jachymov. I hadn't appreciated how many there were.

Frank Ruehlicke
3rd Jul 2019 10:30pm
I'm officially converting to the system where I get to use nacafemnsrsiooohhoohclite.

Erin Delventhal
3rd Jul 2019 10:59pm
Fantastic report, Jolyon.
I wish more people would explore and visit these little hole in the wall museums to bring attention to them.

Paul Brandes
4th Jul 2019 12:03am
Thank you so much for showing us a museum that most of us will never get the opportunity to see. Really interesting and they certainly looked to have some great old books in their library.

I wouldn't worry too much about the exposure to all those uranium minerals and salts - you'll probably only just get to glow in the dark a bit ((:-)

Keith Compton
4th Jul 2019 12:47am
Agricola a head-banger, hilarious!!! I always thought he was Goth.

Kevin Conroy
4th Jul 2019 1:11am
Superb report Jolyon,

Reading it has made my morning!

I must confess to not having come across rabbittite before. Does it multiply rapidly when placed in contact with other specimens of the same?

Tom Cotterell
5th Jul 2019 8:58am
I really enjoyed that, Jolyon; thank you. With luck the uranium salts will have been impoverished in radium, so you may not have as much exposure as you fear!!!

If Tom's remark about rabbittite was correct it would be one of the commonest minerals...



Timothy Greenland
10th Jul 2019 4:38pm

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