Devil's Cave beckons brave travelers
This distinctive destination in southeastern Germany carries an ominous name but absolutely exquisite natural beauty in addition to ancient artifacts and a plethora of outdoor activities. The Devil’s Cave – or Teufelshöhle in German – is one of several important historic sites located near the northern Bavarian town of Pottenstein.
Devil’s Cave is the longest show cave in Germany and one of the largest in the entire country. It’s approximately 1 mile long. The term “show cave” refers to caves that are open to the public with the services of a guide, explained Thomas Bernard, manager of the Pottenstein tourist office. The cave’s origin dates back millions of years to the Mesozoic Era, a period that includes the age of dinosaurs and extreme tectonic plate movements around the globe – it’s old!
A haunting and surreal experience, the cave boasts enormous stalagmites and stalactites. Limestone formations hanging from the cave’s ceiling are called stalactites; those emanating from the ground are called stalagmites. According to Bernard, the cave is divided into halls. In the first hall, which has a 30-foot ceiling, the first three limestone formations are the Pope’s Crown, the Organ and the Curtain. All are between 30,000 to 40,000 years old.
The next section is called Bear’s Grotto. “One finds mass piles of animal bones and the skulls of many cave bears. The animals had lived here during the ice age and also died here,” according to the town official. “It is generally believed that the cave bears were locked in from the outside world through the sudden cave-ins and starved to death.” Visitors will see a complete skeleton of a cave bear during the tour. The bear stood approximately 12 feet high and weighed 900 pounds.
Barbarossa Dome is one of the more impressive sections of the cave. Here you will find stalagmites called Emperor Barbarossa – a rock formation that is 500,000 years old – and Barbarossa’s Beard, a fine waterfall that formed a stalagmite shape that resembles an Asian pagoda. “If the visitor looks downwards in the Barbarossa Dome he can see the deepest location of the cave: it is situated 230 feet below the upper surface of the cavern,” Bernard explained.
Devil’s Cave earned its ominous name and reputation from local lore. Before it was discovered in 1922, the cave was unknowingly the final resting place for local livestock; the animals were falling in the cave and dying. Because the animals were disappearing in the vicinity of the cave, local farmers aptly named it Devil’s Cave because they believed an evil force was responsible for the disappearances. After the cave was thoroughly explored, the bones of livestock and wildlife were found in the cave, having plunged to their death.
Walking through the entire cave takes approximately one hour. Visitors must be accompanied by a guide. Tickets can be purchased at the cave. Reservations are not required. Be prepared to wait a few minutes, as new tours begin about every 30 minutes. Business hours vary during the colder months. Directions and more information about the cave can be found at www.teufelshoehle.de. Or, contact the Pottenstein Tourist Office at 09243-70841 or visit www.pottenstein.de.
Popular German show caves
Eberstadter Tropfsteinhöhle (Erbstadt dripstone cave) is about an hour east of Heidelberg and is open from March to October daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In the months of March, April, September and October, it's closed on Mondays. The cave is easily accessible. It can be visited by people with restricted mobility or wheelchairs. The cave is 2,000 feet long and its width varies between 6-to-22 -feet wide, while the height is between 6-to-26 feet tall. Tours are guided and include several types: child-friendly, geological experts, or mystical cave guides. Visit the website, or the address is 7477 Buchen (Odenwald), Hohlenweg 6.
Laichinger Tiefenhohle (Laichinger deep cave) is the only developed mine cave in Germany. It provides a unique insight into fossilized reef of the Jurassic period. The cave also includes the Speleological Museum and the Geopark Information Center. Call 07333-586 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Laichigen is a small town on the plateau of the Swabian Alb with about 10,000 people. It is located conveniently near the motorway A8 between Stuttgart and Ulm. Deep cave is located about 1-kilometer south of Laichigen.
Isenberg Tropfsteinhohle (Isenberg limestone cave) is located near the mountain town of Bad Grund, which is about 2 1/2 hours north of Schweinfurt. For more information, call 05327-829-391 or email: email@example.com. The Isenberg cave is located in Lower Saxony. The actual cave is 400 feet long. With the 255-foot Captain Spatzier Tunnels, the Yellow Steig and two other cavities, the cave's length comes to a total of 985 feet.