New in the list of Heritage Stones: Rochlitz porphyry tuff

Propsteikirche St. Trinitatis, Leipzig: façade of Rochlitz porphyry tuff by Schulz und Schulz Architekten (2015). Photo: Frank Vincentz / <a href=""target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href=""target="_blank">Creative Commons License</a>

The red rock from Germany originates from a supervolcano and can be found on numerous buildings

The Rochlitz porphyry tuff was added to the list of “Heritage Stones“ (also: Geoheritage Stones) in 2022. This makes it the first stone from Germany, or more precisely, from Saxony, to be allowed to bear this title. The designation is awarded by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and honors a natural ornamental stone that has played and continues to play an important role in culture over the centuries.

The stone was formed more than 290 million years ago by the activity of a supervolcano that ejected vast quantities of lava and ash from volcanic vents and fissures high into the atmosphere and over land. “The ejecta masses are among the largest discovered so far in the world,“ says the webpage of the National Geopark Porphyry Land in Saxony, “after their cooling, layers of different porphyries more than 500 m thick are formed.“

This happened during the Lower Permian period.

Seidelbruch (Seidel quarry) at the Rochlitzer Berg: Photo: Fjordfisch / <a href=""target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href=""target="_blank">Creative Commons License</a>

Since the early 12th century, the stone has been quarried at Rochlitzer Berg near the small Saxon town of Rochlitz as a material for builders and sculptors. It used to be commonly called Saxon marble.

Due to its strong red color and interesting structure, it has left its mark on the architectural heritage of an entire region in Germany and beyond.

Romanesque portal from the 12th century at the collegiate church in Wechselburg, made of Rochlitz porphyry tuff. Photo: Heiner Siedel

It has been used as a building material in numerous structures, such as the Romanesque monastery church in Wechselburg, Leipzig’s Old Town Hall, architect Henry van de Velde’s Villa Esche in Chemnitz (1911), and the redesign of Immanuel Kant’s tomb (1924) in what is now Kaliningrad.

Among the current buildings, the façade of the new church building of the Leipzig Propsteikirche St. Trinitatis (Provost Church of the Holy Trinity), inaugurated in 2015, is particularly noteworthy.

The inclusion in the list of Heritage Stones was initiated by Prof. Dr. Heiner Siedel and Dr. Annett Kaldich from the Faculty of Physics and Geosciences at the University of Leipzig.

Geopark Porphyrland (German)

The “Heritage Stones“ list is available on the web page of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).

The Rochlitz porphyry tuff is visible everywhere in Leipzig, here at the Old Town Hall. Photo: Peter Becker

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(23.08.2023, USA: 08.23.2023)