Kirchbruchroute Beucha

Kirchbruch Beucha, Foto: Anja Hartmann

Rundwanderung um den Kirchbruch Beucha, einen der eindrucksvollsten Orte im Nationalen Geopark Porphyrland. Der Weg ist ausgeschildert.

Streckenführung auf

Information panels along the Kirchbruch Route Beucha

Beucha was first officially recorded in 1378. one production has been an important factor in the development of the village, the community and culture since the 15th century. Of the original five quarries only one is still in operation today. The most famous of these is the Kirchbruch where the hill church crowns the former steep quarry face. Today the old quarries are nature reserves, recreational areas as well as a fascinating paradise for climbing and diving. We invite you to a 1.9 kilometre long circular walk around the Kirchbruch Beucha.

Quarries in Beucha and Brandis
1. Kirchbruch (1477 – 1954) – Granite porphyry exposed
2. Bruch Sorge (since 1860, still in operation) – Granite porphyry exposed
3. Tollertbruch (before 1860 – 1950) – Granite porphyry exposed
4. Spittelbruch (1873 – 1965) – Quartz porphyry exposed
5. Hausbruch (1873 – 1958) – Quartz porphyry exposed
6. Westbruch Kohlenberg (18th century – 1963) – Granite porphyry exposed
7. Ostbruch Kohlenberg (1735 – 1918) – Granite porphyry exposed
Map: Ordinance survey map Brandis (Sächs.) – Pehritz (Preuß.) 1:25.000 (detail), 1905

Volcanic rocks of Beucha

Two rock types were extracted in the quarries of Brandis-Beucha: granite porphyry and quartz porphyry, volcanic rocks that were formed 290 million years ago. The Beucha granite porphyry from the Kirchbruch and the quarry Sorge is a magma body that solidified below the Earth’s surface, which is why it contains large grained crystals. This rock is world famous and valued by architects as a construction stone. It is still produced in Beucha today.

Railway network around Beucha
The railway line Leipzig-Döbeln was completed in 1866 connecting Beucha with the railway network. The station Beucha-Brandis handled both passengers and goods. The line Beucha – Brandis – Altenhain was opened in 1897 and was extended to Trebsen an der Mulde in 1911. The construction of side lines from the quarries to the railway line increased the efficiency with which the rocks could be transported to far away customers.

St. Ludwig Chapel
The trail to the Kirchbruch passes the St. Ludwig Chapel. This small catholic place of worship was built in 1912 for the Bavarian, Polish, Austrian, Bohemian and Italian immigrant quarrymen. They were specially recruited to meet the demand for specialists, which was a result of the increased orders from the construction industry and the expansion of the quarries.

From inn to house of culture
Between 1900 and 1972, house opposite the station was known as the „Feldschlösschen“, an inn with a long tradition. Since 1976 the building is used as a cultural centre. Future plans see the creation of a business incubator providing space for co-working. Also the building will house a Geoportal for the Geopark Porphyry Land presenting information about the granite porphyry of Beucha.

Text: Geopark Porphyry Land. Saxony’s Wealth of Rocks and Local history Association Beucha e.V. Photos 1+3: Beucha Town Record,
Photo 2: Eckhardt Klöthe ; Digitale Processing und Bereitstellung der Photoer durch den Sax-Verlag, published in „Beucha – Dorf der Steine“ (2012);
Graphical realization: Werbedesign Lepschy GmbH

The Kirchbruch Beucha is one of the most impressive destinations in the Geopark Porphyry Land. Because of the outstanding panorama encompassing the rock, water and hill church and the geological significance of the volcanic rock the former quarries is a National Geotope.

A wealth of rocks originating from supervolcanoes

The wealth of rocks here in Beucha as well as in the Geopark Porphyry Land as a whole are products of gigantic explosive volcanic eruptions that occured around 290 million years ago. For several million years lava erupted continuously from many volcanic vents and fissures, ash was ejected high into the atmosphere  and several 1000°C hot pyroclastic flows rushed across the area of the Geopark at incredible speeds. The deposits cooled to form a 500 to 800 metre thick rock layer mostly consisting of porphyry, of which there are nearly 30 different varieties.

World famous Beucha granite porphyry
The Beucha granite porphyry became world famous when it was used to build the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. All visible parts of the 91 metre tall construction including the sculptures and the reliefs were made of this rock. The colours vary from greyish green to red and its properties such as hardness, weather resistance and water impermeability and not least its attractive appearance are the reasons why this rock is such a sought after material for veneer panelling as well as dimension and construction stone. The Beucha granite porphyry can be extracted in large blocks and can take a polish.

Granite porphyry (Beucha): Kirchbruch, Bruch Sorge, Tollertbruch
Quartz porphyry (Kleinsteinberg) Hausbruch, Spittelbruch

Kfs Alkali feldspar
Pl Plagioclase (calcium, sodium feldspar)
Px Pyroxene
Sa Sanidine (an alkali feldspar)
Qz Quartz

The (Pyroxene-) granite porphyry from Beucha and the Kohlenberg originated in a body of magma that could not rise to the Earth’s surface but „became stuck“ in the quartz porphyry (subvulcanite). There it cooled slowly allowing large crystals, so-called phenocrysts, to grow. In contrast the (Pyroxene-) quartz porphyry from the Haus- and Spittelbruch near Kleinsteinberg is an extrusive rock, meaning that the magma flowed onto the Earth’s surface where it cooled relatively fast. As a result the phenocrysts are small. The rock sample shown in the photograph has a higher silica content and was probably found in the contact zone near the ascending granite porphyry.

Rock extraction in the Kirchbruch
The beginnings of stone extraction in Beucha can be traced back to the 15th century when farmers started working in small pits as a sideline. As the rock was found near the surface it only required simple tools and a lot of physical effort to extract stones up to depth of 2 to 4 metres. When the city of Leipzig began to grow at the beginning of the 19th century the demand increased for construction stones for houses, bridges and roads. As industrial methods were introduced the extraction process intensified, which lead to the development of a large-scale stone production industry in Beucha. The industrial production in the Kirchbruch began in 1884.

Granite porphyry for the Monument to the Battle of the Nations
26,500 granite porphyry blocks weighing 32,500 tons were produced and dressed in Beucha and transported to Leipzig for the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. 20 percent of these dimension stones were produced in the Kirchbruch, 80 percent in the quarry Sorge.
The monumental figures on and around the Monument to the Battle of the Nations were assembled according to sketches, models and patterns using blocks of granite porphyry. This required a high degree of accuracy throughout the different stages of block production from sawing to carving by the stonemasons. The blocks were created according to the specifications such as dimensions and finish laid down for every required block in working lists.

The contract for the Monument to the Battle of the Nations triggered the biggest technological and professional developmental impulse in the history of the Beucha stone production industry. 1560 stone masons and 450 workers were employed in the quarries Kirchbruch and Sorge to produce the large volume of rocks during the construction period between 1898 and 1913 and deliver these as required.

Text: Geopark Porphyry Land.
Photography: Photo 1: Pixabay; Photo 2+3: Samples from the geological collection of the LfULG in Freiberg; Photography: Frank Schmidt / Processing: Dr. Alexander Repstock (LfULG) and Dr. Jochen Rascher (GEOmontan GmbH Freiberg); Photo 4-7: Digitale Processing und Bereitstellung der Photoer durch den Sax-Verlag; veröffentlicht in „Beucha – Dorf der Steine“ (2012);
Graphics: Werbedesign Lepschy GmbH

The Hill Church in Beucha
The Hill Church in Beucha is oldest building and famous landmark of the town. Already in the 11th and 12th century the Kirchberg was a slavic cult site. At the beginning of the 13th century German settlers built a small church with a tower. After its destruction by the Hussites the church was rebuilt in 1429. This included adding a new nave which had to be oriented to the west because it was no longer possible to extend to the east because of the encroaching quarry.

Demolition of the church prevented
The decision to extend the church in 1846 was preceded by a fierce debate concerning the possible demolition of the building. There were plans to completely remove the Kirchberg and to relocate the church and cemetery. In the end it was the enormous economic risk associated with this plan and the intervention by the priest Stephani that led to the decision to extend the church at the original location. The work carried out in 1847 / 1848 involved extending the nave to its present form.
Photounterschrift (BU): Hill Church, Nave with organ gallery

Geological expedition to Beucha
The granite porphyry has been an important destination for Saxon geologists from the beginning. Karl Herrmann Credner, the pioneer of the geological survey of Saxony, led the first group of university students on a geological excursion to the Kirchbruch in Beucha on May 13, 1870.
BU: Naive drawing of Karl Hermann Credner’s first student excursion from Leipzig in 1870 in the Kirchberg quarry in Beucha

Geology of the Kirchberg
The hill Kirchberg has already existed for 35 million years. Later the near-surface weathering of the porphyries in warm humid conditions produced kaolin. During the Tertiary, large lignite moors developed at the foot of the Kirchberg hill. During the Ice Ages the proceeding Scandinavian ice sheet ground the hill down to form a roche moutonnèe. The rock fragments transported by the ice scratched the surface rock leaving behind glacier striations, which can still be observed at the Hausbruch today. These glacier striations and gouges were used as evidence for the modern Ice Age Theory, which proves the movement of gigantic glaciers from Scandinavia into Central Europe.
Schematic, vertically exaggerated West – East section through the Kirchberg

Text: Geopark Porphyry Land. Saxony’s Wealth of Rocks and Local history Association Beucha
Photography: Photo 1: Peter Kayenberg; Photo 2: Institute for Geology and Geophysics, University of Leipzig; Digital processing and preparation of photos by the Sax publishing company; published in „Beucha – Dorf der Steine“ (2012); Photo 3: GEOmontan GmbH Freiberg;
Graphics: Werbedesign Lepschy GmbH


Life of the stoneworkers in Beucha
From the mid 18th century onwards the farmers no longer extracted the stones themselves, they employed recruited stoneworkers who lived in labourer houses. Their wives and children hired themselves out to the farmers. Until the 19th century, the intensity of stone production varied considerably, partially due to the effects of wars. As soon as the work in the quarries could no longer support the stoneworker families, they moved on. In contrast, the local farmers with their fields formed a constant population group. From 1886 onwards, local inhabitants also began to train as stoneworkers and stonemasons. The large-scale immigration of stoneworkers in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially as a result of the additional need for workers to fulfil the assignment for the Monument to the Battle of the Nations changed the village considerably. The village of farmers became a village of stoneworkers.

BU 1: Workers in the quarry around 1900, equipped with drill rods, mason’s hammer and sledgehammer.
BU 2: Female rock crushers at the Kirchbruch around 1900. These women crushed the rock waste with a long-handled hammer to grit for road construction.
BU 3: The stoneworkers mainly immigrated from Bavaria, Poland, Austria, Bohemia and Italy to Beucha

Development of the dimension stone industry in Beucha
For many centuries, the product range available from the quarries was quite limited. However, as the quarries Kirchbruch and Sorge grew deeper with time, the degree of fracturing of the rock decreased. This meant that larger blocks could be extracted. This factor marked the beginning of the stone industry boom of Beucha, which is unique in Germany. The start of this extraordinary development is linked to the tests carried out by the company Günther & Fiedler in 1884 to ascertain the utility of the granite porphyry of Beucha for processing by stonemasons. The result showed that granite porphyry is an excellent stone for accurate shaping by stonemasons, producing exact profiles and creating fine sculptures. In addition to the technological developments in the quarries, it was the skill of the craftsmen that underpinned the successful progress of the village. Nearly all families are linked to the rock over many generations.

Population development in Beucha

Year Population  Event
18714461866 Connection to the railway network
18906781897 opening of the railway line Beucha – Brandis – Altenhain
191013521900 – 1912 Contract work for the Monument to the Battle of the Nations
193924831938 incorporation of the villages Kleinsteinberg and Wolfshain
199022721990 German reunification

Source: / Town administration Brandis

Stone ambassadors to the world
The granite porphyry of Beucha was used to build the main station and for restoring the Old Town Hall in Leipzig. You will also notice this stone on the German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek), the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), the Gewandhaus, the Alte Waage and on the houses of the Leipzig district Waldstrassenviertel. The rock from Beucha was and is used all over Germany including for gravestones and monuments. As a mass product in the form of panels and facing bricks the exclusive stone is used on the Dutch canal bridges. The name „Beucha granite porphyry“ has become established all over the world.

BU 4: Monument to the Battle of the Nations: all visible elements and sculptures
BU 5: Old Town Hall: Foundation stones and bases of all columns
BU 6: Main Station: Foundation and splash guard; polished base panelling in the passages, base stones for the  pillar constructions, pedestal for the monument to the railway pioneers Friedrich List and Gustav Harkort
BU 7: Gewandhaus: base panelling and facade veneer with poilished stone panels at the entrance to the Mendelssohn Hall
BU 8: Federal Administrative Court: foundation blocks, window sills, cellar window frames, steps

Texts: Geopark Porphyry Land. Saxony’s Wealth of Rocks and Local history Association Beucha
Photography: Photo 1-3: Beucha Village chronicle; Digital processing and preparation of photos by the Sax publishing company; published in „Beucha – Dorf der Steine“ (2012); Photo 4-8: Andreas Schmidt, Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH;
Graphics: Werbedesign Lepschy GmbH