Devil's Cave near Pottenstein
|Devil's Cave near Pottenstein
Stalagmite group magic garden in the Barbarossasaal
|Location:||Franconian Switzerland , Germany|
|Cadastral number:||D 95|
|Geology:||Franconian dolomite of the Malm Delta of the Jura|
|Show cave since:||1923|
|Overall length:||3000 meters|
|Length of the show
|Average annual number of visitors:||142,500 (2014-2018)|
|Current visitors:||139.092 (2018)|
The stalactite cave is the largest of around 1000 caves in Franconian Switzerland . It has rich stalactite jewelry with stately stalagmites and stalactites and is considered one of the most beautiful show caves in Germany. It is located in the Bayreuth district , roughly halfway between Nuremberg and Bayreuth , and is a member of the Jurahöhle adventure world. The huge cave portal - the "gateway to the underworld" - is located at about 400 meters above sea level between Pottenstein and the Schüttersmühle, about two kilometers south of Pottenstein in the narrow valley of the Weihersbach on the western steep slope . The cave entrance, a 25 meter wide and 14 meter high portal, one of the largest cave entrances in Germany, has been known for a long time. This cave portal used to end at a depth of about 85 meters and was called the devil's hole . In 1922, Hans Brand from Bayreuth, a geologist and mining engineer , broke through an end wall about nine meters thick, formed by a fall, in the devil's hole and discovered parts of the cave decorated with dripstone, which were made accessible until August 1923 and were temporarily open to visitors. In a further development measure, starting in 1923, further cave spaces were opened up within eight years and connected with a total of around 300 meter long tunnels . On Pentecost in 1931, the Devil's Cave was opened to the public for full viewing.
The cavity consists of several large halls, in the development of the cave by mining techniques applied narrow tunnel-like gears connected together. Including all side passages, the tunnels and the production shafts created to develop the cave, the length of the cave is around 3000 meters. The show cave section is around 1700 meters long, of which around 800 can be visited during guided tours. With more than 140,000 visitors a year, the Teufelshöhle, which is operated by the Teufelshöhle association , is one of the most popular show caves in Europe. In Germany, only the Atta cave in Attendorn has comparable visitor numbers. The devil's cave is used for various purposes. In addition to the regular guided tours since 1994, the series of events Culture in the Devil's Cave takes place several times in the summer months in the entrance cave. The Teufelshöhle therapy center has been located in a side tunnel since 1986 for the use of speleotherapy as part of therapy cures. Since 1971, the research group Höhle und Karst Franken has maintained the only cave laboratory in Germany in another side section .
The Teufelshöhle is located in a typical karst area with acid-soluble rocks such as lime and dolomite . The Weihersbachtal and the Teufelshöhle were essentially formed in the last 2.5 million years. The devil's cave is located in the Franconian dolomite, the Malm Delta of the Jura . The karstification phase, influenced by the alternation of different ice ages with warmer periods, is still ongoing.
The predominant formation of the Devil's Cave occurred at the time when the crevices and crevices created by faults were completely filled with carbonated water that had penetrated. Carbonic acid is a relatively weak acid , but it can dissolve limestone and dolomite rock. The fissures and crevices have developed into large cavities through leaching . The cavities were drained by the deepening of the Weihersbach valley and the resulting lowering of the groundwater level . Then the cave was designed by expanding the space and forming stalactites. So it is a so-called secondary cave that was created a long time after the rock had formed. Noteworthy is the occurrence of cave clay , which has a high iron content.
The devil's cave consists of several natural duct systems and cavities leached from the rock . During a guided tour through the show cave area, three large cavities are entered, some of which are connected to one another by artificially created tunnel-like passages. The hall-like cavities are enormous: the domed hall , which was known as the Great Devil's Hole even before it was opened, has a floor area of around 100 square meters and a height of more than ten meters; a 15 meter thick rock ceiling lies above it. The Barbarossadom is about 45 meters long, 18 meters wide and up to 18 meters high, with a rock cover over it that is 52 meters thick. The giant hall , the largest room in the devil's cave, is around 30 meters long, 16 meters wide and 13 meters high, with 45 meters of rocks above it.
The Devil's Cave is registered as D 95 and the Small Devil's Cave as D 148 in the Franconian Alb cave register with over 3500 caves on an area of 6400 square kilometers . The cave is designated as geotope 472H008 by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment . See also the list of geotopes in the Bayreuth district .
The devil's cave is an extensive cave system. It extends over a total of three floors with a floor area of around 200 × 200 meters. The guided tour of the cave also goes through all three floors, whereby the accessible area is about 100 × 100 meters. In addition to the entrance area to the Devil's Cave, the cave system includes the former Great Devil's Hole and other caves connected with tunnels such as the Small Devil's Hole . The nettle burrow is connected to this and has an excavated exit on the valley side. The artificially created tunnels of the nettle building from the time of development connect it with the giant hall of the devil's cave. Some of the measuring equipment of the cave laboratory of the research group von Höhle und Karst Franken e. V. In 1988, in the nettle burrow , access to another floor was discovered behind a clay barrier, which has undamaged sintered ground . The nettle cultivation is also connected with the Zankenhöhle . The Devil's Gorge to the south was connected to the clay cave , the entrance of which has collapsed. A large number of tunnels and shafts that originate from the development phase are connected to the cave system .
The numerous stalactites in the Teufelshöhle are remarkable . Penetrating rainwater, enriched with carbonic acid, dissolves limestone on the way through the dolomite rock and has thus formed the stalactite formations, known as sinter , over many millennia . The Barbarossadom is characterized by many candle stalagmites on the floor as well as stalactites and sintered tubes on the ceiling. Large sinter flags and sinter curtains (for example the Barbarossabart in the Barbarossadom) have formed in several places in the cave. The rare eccentrics have also formed in the cave. The different color nuances of the stalactites are created by adding sand , iron , manganese or clay . The stalactites of the Teufelshöhle are made of ordinary carbonate of lime ( calcium carbonate ), although the original rock dissolved by water is more of dolomitic origin.
The two oldest stalactites in the cave can be seen in the giant hall. The large stalactite formations such as the tree or the giant Goliath can be assigned to a very early stalactite formation. They are estimated to be no more than 340,000 years old. Much younger, however, are the slimmer candle stalagmites, the generation of which mostly belongs to a post-Ice Age period (Worm Ice Age). Their age is estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 years. According to morphological criteria, the stalactite jewelry in the Teufelshöhle belongs mainly to a post-glacial and therefore very young generation. This is supported by the extremely low proportion of stalactites that have been destroyed, such as felled or overturned stalagmites, the destruction of which can be traced back to natural circumstances such as earthquakes or moving ice . In the Devil's Cave it takes an average of 13 years for a stalactite to grow by about a millimeter (a measuring device is located in the cave laboratory). The stalactites only grow in warm periods of the earth's history and when there is sufficient rainfall .
In the Teufelshöhle the air temperature is quite constant. Depending on the season , it fluctuates between 9 and 10 ° C. The relative humidity is about 95 percent, in some cave areas up to 98 percent, very high. A few years ago, temperature measurements were carried out over a long period of time in the giant hall . A value of 9.5 to 10 ° C was determined. Before the cave was illuminated with LED lamps, the temperature in the giant hall rose to 12.5 to 13 ° C on weekends in the summer months when there was a large number of visitors and long lighting. Since the installation of the LED lamps, which generate less heat and radiate less than the old lighting, there has been no significant increase in temperature. During these investigations, the precipitation of textile dust from the clothing of the visitors was also measured. For this purpose, square measuring areas of 10 by 10 centimeters were laid out at various points in the giant hall. These measurements revealed a not inconsiderable pollution of the cave air. The textile dust also settles on the individual stalactites, which inhibits growth and the color darkens more and more.
The devil's hole
Originally the Devil's Cave was much shorter and ended 30 meters behind the domed hall . The huge entrance area and the front part of the cave were known from time immemorial as the Great Devil's Hole . Several decades before the cave was opened in October 1922, a path with wooden railings led up to the cave entrance. The entrance to the Teufelshöhle is 14 meters high and 25 meters wide, making it one of the largest cave entrances in Germany. The imposing entrance portal, which has the character of a vault, was created from dolomitic reef rubble limestone and lies on a layered joint. Hans Brand, the developer of the cave, assumed at the beginning of the 20th century that the cave entrance was deepened and expanded by flowing water. However, there is no evidence whatsoever of a former underground stream bed. The mouth of the cave drops down to 0.6 meters above the level of the brook bottom of the Weihersbach with 381.2 meters above sea level. From there, the Teufelsloch led about 85 meters down until it was completely buried in branches. The Great Devil's Hole used to have rich stalactite jewelery, which was stolen or destroyed. From the middle of the cave entrance jumps out a rock terrace at a height of about eight meters, on which the terrace café is located.
The Teufelshöhle is one of the best commercially developed show caves in Germany. It is known both at home and abroad with spatial developments of the kind only rarely seen in German cave areas, as well as huge halls and narrow, winding passages and their stalactites.
The tours use easily accessible paths and stairs with railings, but also tunnel-like narrow corridors that connect the individual cavities, niches with dripstones and halls. A guided tour lasts about 45 minutes and touches the most interesting areas of the cave. A distance of 800 meters is covered, of which about 150 meters are tunnel-like passages that were broken up during expansion. It goes up and down in parts, with a total of 407 steps to be overcome. The tour will be accompanied partly musically and since August 2007 by a light show.
For children, special tours lasting 45 minutes are sometimes offered outside of the regular opening times. Special geological tours are offered more and more often in the Teufelshöhle. These take about 100 minutes. Spaces are entered that are otherwise not accessible to the public. The creation and development of the cave is discussed in detail, and the therapy station is included. Tours have been offered in English since 2000 and in French since 2002 . In addition, there are explanations about the cave in English, French, Italian , Russian , Spanish and Czech in the entrance area .
The normal tour begins in the first of the three large cavities, the domed hall , with a small exhibition of tools and mining equipment such as compressed air drills, an old electric winch and so-called mountain hunts , which were used in the development. In addition to different types of rock, a cut stalactite is shown. The climate rings , similar to the annual rings of a tree, can be seen very well there . A bear-cut boulder found in the Devil's Cave is also on display. The cave guide gives his first explanations there and runs a program with music and light effects.
From this first cave room, you continue following the earlier devil's hole . The first stalactite formations can be seen right behind the breakthrough. Shortly before, you pass the entrance door to the therapy area of the cave. The visitor then gets to see the papal crown , which consists mainly of stalagmites. Then the organ (sintered columns that look very similar to organ pipes, partly destroyed) and the curtain , which consists of stalagmites and sintered flags illuminated from the back, are shown. These three groups are estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. This is followed by the bear caves . Cave bear bones of 80 specimens, which were found in the Devil's Cave during the expansion period from 1922 to 1931, are laid out in three small niches. Most of the bones, some of them very well preserved, were found in this area.
In the bear cave immediately next to the curtain you can see in a rock niche on an elevation on the left the skeleton of a cave bear , assembled in 1959 by the paleontologist Max Schlosser , who lived in this area over 30,000 years ago. The guide path then goes through an approximately 50-meter-long rock corridor, known as the lower connecting tunnel, which was broken up during development , as can be seen from the sharp-edged rock and the still existing boreholes, to the Nibelungen grotto, in which some of the sintered columns crack in the middle Have breaks. Then it goes on to the Barbarossadom , the second and probably most beautiful room of the Devil's Cave.
Here the cave guide is waiting, who has overtaken the visitors on cross connections in the cave. Here music can first be heard in the darkened light, followed by a light show, followed by the cave guide's second explanation. The Barbarossadom is the center and state hall of the devil's cave; there are stalactite formations to see, the magnificence of which surprises every visitor. The rising hill in the middle of the room is called the magic garden . This is characterized by many candle stalagmites on the floor and stalactites and sintered tubes on the ceiling. In the middle of the room, between the candle stalagmites, Emperor Barbarossa sits enthroned , a finely structured, pagoda-shaped stalactite. Probably the most beautiful stalactite in the cave is about 1.20 meters high and is estimated to be over 200,000 years old. A mountainous landscape can be seen at the top of the magic garden. The massive sinter mass above it, which oozes out of a side cavity, is called Barbarossabart . The age of the Barbarossa beard, broken down into the finest individual figures, is around 200,000 years. The deepest part of the cave, 70 meters below the cave surface, is marked by a searchlight. When there is heavy rainfall or when the snowmelts in spring, the seepage water that penetrates from the outside through crevices and crevices collects there and forms a small, crystal-clear lake. The visitor path leads downwards around the magic garden and then the Kalvarienberg 115 steps up. After the last step of the Calvary, the visitor sees the crucifixion group on the right .
The crucifixion group is illuminated with blue and white lights. The three large stalactites are interpreted as cross trunks, the people watching is indicated by the smaller stalagmites in front of them. Following the guide path, again through one of the broken passages, called the upper connecting tunnel and about 75 meters long, the cave visitors get to the Three Emperors Grotto . There are three stalactite sculptures there: on the left a large stalactite that is around 250,000 years old and on the right two smaller ones of rare purity. It then goes steeply down through the Hexenschlucht , a romantic, naturally leached rock passage; so you get to the giant hall , the largest room in the devil's cave.
In the giant hall, visitors are once again welcomed by the cave guide. The ceiling in the giant hall is criss-crossed with ponds , overhangs and cracks. The so-called tree is around 3.5 meters high and is around 340,000 years old. The crown of the tree on the ceiling is formed by the small tubes of calcium deposits, the stalactite represents the tree trunk , the lighted fans underneath are the roots. The huge stalactite sculpture of the giant Goliath , also around 340,000 years old, stands in the middle of the giant hall. The stalactite formation on the rock face, on which a hidden red light burns, is known as the small chapel . A turret adorns its roof. On the left above the small chapel, white stalactite formations catch the eye, called Bergeis . They are made of carbonate of lime. Their light color is explained by the fact that the water seeping through the rock does not carry clay, sand or iron with it. In the giant hall it goes up stairs.
You leave the giant hall through a narrow passage behind the tree and pass the crystal grotto. Most of the eccentrics can be seen in this area. Following the narrow corridor, we continue to the candle hall , which is again characterized by candle stalagmites. After the candle hall , it goes up a few steps, past the waterfall , the turtle and up to the tobacco leaves . The cave visitor arrives at the exit of the cave in a gorge-like gorge, which is 25 meters higher than the entrance and in which huge rocks are piled up. From there the path leads downwards through a small rock labyrinth, past a viewing platform and the Little Devil's Cave, back down to the cave entrance. The descent takes about ten minutes. On the way down, information boards about the Devil's Cave were set up in 2006.
Little devil's cave
The entrance to the Little Devil's Cave, also known as the Little Devil's Hole , is about 100 meters north of the entrance to the Devil's Cave. The small devil's cave is connected to the devil's cave by a cave passage, the nettle burrow, which is not accessible to the visitor and contains the cave laboratory.
The finds in this cave are outstanding. In 1876, C. Heitgen found a Jerzmanowice- type chert projectile tip , a unique find in Franconian Switzerland. The age is estimated to be around 37,000 years. Numerous fossils from the Würm Ice Age around 30,000 years ago, such as the remains of cave bears , cave hyenas , bison , elk , pika , deer and reindeer have been found. Due to the consistently low temperatures in the cave, the bones were well preserved. There are also Cretaceous sediments in the cave , the period of which has yet to be determined.
Since 1994 the series of events "Culture in the Devil's Cave" has been held annually in the summer months with seven to eight individual events. The imposing entrance grotto is ideal for concerts and theater performances. The acoustics, the cave ambience and the weather resistance characterize this room. Different styles of music are offered, from classical music to flamenco and jazz as well as theater and cabaret with wild and romantic lighting. In the “concert hall” there is a relatively constant temperature of twelve degrees Celsius. Every year around 2000 people come to the events.
On December 1, 2018, a previously unknown, huge cave space that had been suspected for a long time was excavated and is currently the subject of research.
Traces of human settlement during the last ice age have not yet been clearly proven. Opinions on this subject differ in the literature. Today's access to the Devil's Cave, the Devil's Hole , has been known to the locals for centuries. Like many other Franconian caves, the Teufelsloch was rich in bone material and other remains of organic material and has a variety of stalactite shapes. Nevertheless, cave explorers like the German Georg August Goldfuß , the French Georges Cuvier and the English William Buckland and John Hunter paid little attention to the 85 meter deep Devil's Hole. The Bamberg historian Joseph Heller mentioned the devil's hole for the first time in 1829:
“Devil's hole, the big one. This cave, the largest in the Muggendorfer area, consisting almost only of a single large rock passage in which one can drive a load of hay, is located a little half an hour east of Pottenstein in the Schutterthal, which is very excellent from here to the Klumpersmühle. The entrance to the cave is a large surprising rock gate 45 Schuh high, 69 Sch. Width. The cave extends uphill, remains pretty much the same at the front, and has a beautiful gate in the middle, the length of which up to then was 330 sh. one notices a side passage on the right, where one encounters a pool of water. Stalactite formations can be found in some places in this cave, which is remarkable because of its size, which can also be visited without any difficulty. Not far from there on the same side is the little devil's hole, which is excellently characterized by beautiful stalactites. The entrance is a 51 Sch. high, 30 Sch. wide rock gate. The cave stretches uphill, is spacious everywhere, and as soon as you enter, you step over a beautiful cascade-like surface of stalactites with flowing stalactitic water. In a straight line, the length of this cave may be 86 shoe. But it also has several side corridors and other spacious places. "
As a result, the cave became better known and increasingly visited by domestic and foreign visitors. The neighboring Kleiner Teufelshöhle received more attention. In 1876 the taxidermist C. Heitgen discovered a bullet point made of chert in the Kleine Teufelshöhle. The excavations were carried out on behalf of the anthropologist Johannes Ranke from the Paleontological Institute in Munich , who traveled to Franconian Switzerland in the same year and identified various caves in which the subsequent excavation should be carried out. The findings from the excavations corresponded to the state of research at the time, but despite subsequent excavations, they cannot withstand the current state of knowledge. Adalbert Neischl carried out the first survey in 1901 and made a cave plan. At this point in time, the stalactite jewelry had already been destroyed except for small remains and the bone material had largely been removed.
From 1904 to 1914, all of the larger caves in the north Franconian cave area were carefully examined and measured, including the Big and Small Devil's Hole and the Devil's Gorge by the students Böckler, Schülein and Popp in 1909. The surface conditions were particularly important.
Until 1922 all experienced speleologists were of the opinion that there was no continuation behind the fall of the Devil's Hole. In 1922, Hans Brand assumed that the devil's hole was created by running water and that the arch of the old river bed must continue behind the end wall. As we know today, he was wrong. The development measures were preceded by a survey of all known cave parts with a pit theodolite . The measurements from 1909 were checked.
In October 1922, with the support of the city of Pottenstein and the private donor Förster, Brand successfully dug after an expansion of the cave in the midst of German inflation . He went through a sunken tunnel and found that the cave was much larger than expected. He found the further natural course after nine meters breakthrough. Investigations on the basis of certain characteristics, such as surface design, sole spillage and internal cracks, made it possible to find further cavities. The investigations revealed that the cave consists of three floors. Existing layer joints and fault lines were opened or expanded by excavation blasting to such an extent that climbing was possible. They dug into the mountain and discovered several cavities that exceeded all expectations with their stalactite decoration. These larger interiors were partially connected by very narrow passages over 100 meters long, which could mostly only be crossed by crawling. During the first development work, these were made accessible after careful theodolite measurements.
Brand wrote in 1935 about the as yet undeveloped Teufelshöhle:
"Since the caves in the dolomite do not run solely according to layer joints and fault lines, as in the stratified limestone, but sometimes run through the subsoil due to the reef character, the main cave expansions could only be due to certain features on the surface and through water impact points, bed spills and fractures inside Pursued case by case. These investigations led to the determination of three cave storeys, which were initially opened or expanded so far by blasting that they could be climbed and temporarily surveyed. The larger interior spaces found in this way were sometimes connected by narrow passages over a hundred meters long, which could mostly only be negotiated by crawling. By tearing down the narrowness appropriately, it was possible to make the entire cave passable and, after careful theodolite measurements, the shortest cut to connect according to the perpendicular was calculated and carried out. "
The development work on the easily accessible parts of the cave was mainly done by hand. A total of 42 workers were employed during the exploration work for eight months under the technical direction of the mining authority . This made it possible to unite the middle sections with the curtain and bear grotto and the upper floors adjoining the exit gorge with the candle hall and the giant hall to form a closed sequence of caves. This enabled further cavities to be made accessible by August 1923. The middle sections with the curtain and bear grotto and the upper floors, which adjoin the Devil's Gorge, with the candle hall , the mermaid grotto and the giant hall were brought together to form a closed series of caves. The staircase leading to the cave entrance was rebuilt, a guardrail was used and a tool shed was built on the middle platform. The developed cave areas were equipped with electric light and on August 5th, for the time being, several hundred meters in length were opened to visitors. From this point on the tourist use of the cave began, which led to a steadily increasing number of visitors.
Brand was not satisfied with the knowledge gained so far and ordered a second development of the cave, in which mobile compressors with electric drive were used to operate two rotary hammers and narrow-gauge hunts were used to convey the rock masses that had broken out. The development was mainly about the connection and accessibility of the Barbarossadom , probably the most beautiful room in the cave, to the parts of the cave that have been accessible since the first development. A device that was very modern for the time and a method previously unknown in cave exploration were used. The development of the deeper parts of the cave through time-consuming and costly work by hand was as good as impossible. It is typical of the Dolomite that large halls are built. Some of these halls are not connected to each other. In the eight years of the second development, four selected workers were responsible for the drilling work and removing the debris. In this way, further halls and cavities were opened up, measured and connected to one another. A total of 285.5 meter long stretches with a cross section of 1.2 by 1.8 meters were driven through the tough dolomite.
Overcoming the 21.2 meter high Calvary , a wall in the Barbarossadom, was extremely difficult. It was overcome by an artificial staircase with 115 steps. In the back of the cave, a huge fall was removed by explosions and laborious work. After this breakthrough, animal bones and skulls of several cave bears were found in three small sinuses. In the caves themselves, the blasting of rock had to be restricted as much as possible, because the associated vibrations would have damaged the stalactites. The smoke would also have penetrated several centimeters into the porous sintered mass and would have clouded its shine. Brand also managed to open a cave exit. An equally difficult task was the inconspicuous cable routing and the correct gradation of the light intensity of the lamps and spotlights. Wide, leveled paths and massive stairs were created to make walking into the individual departments completely safe and as comfortable as possible. At Pentecost in 1931, the Devil's Cave was opened to the public for a full visit. Today's visitor can visit the impressive halls with the names Barbarossadom and Giant Hall . The development of the devil's cave represented a great scientific and technical achievement.
The development of the Teufelshöhle was carried out by Brand in a mining manner . A network of tunnels and shafts was created to move the enormous amounts of mined rock. This work was mainly carried out by demolition troops who shot passages in the hard dolomite. The individual halls such as the Barbarossadom and the giant hall in tunnels were approached in order to transport the material that had broken out when opening up the rooms and the Calvary . Due to the narrow and winding route, a narrow wheelbase of 60 centimeters was necessary for the Hunte. The rails were nailed to simple wooden sleepers or, in the case of long straight stretches as well as above ground, mounted on steel sleepers.
A part of these tunnels runs in a star shape towards a crossing point south of the Barbarossadom , where the trolleys could get from one tunnel to another by means of a rotating rail crossing. From this point of intersection, a shaft with a 38 degree incline goes up and comes to the surface in the Devil's Gorge . During the development work there was a little house with an electric winch for pulling out the trolleys. This winch is now an exhibit in the domed hall . The exit of the production shaft can still be seen today, a few meters from the path from the exit of the cave back to the entrance area. A tram traveled up to a kilometer into the tunnel before it got outside.
Another system of newly created tunnels north of the giant hall consists of nettle mining, via which the rubble and spoil that had accumulated during the construction of the road in the giant hall were carried out into the Weihersbach valley by means of trolleys. There were some technical problems with the development. Since the underground routes were too long to lay the compressed air lines from the outside to the construction site, an electric single-stage compressor on trolley wheels was used, which was tracked on the tracks by the driving teams. This was characterized by its narrow shape and great mobility and has proven itself in the eight years of use in the cave without any breakdowns.
Most of the tunnels are not entered by visitors during guided tours because they do not have any interesting equipment. Through them it is possible to reach almost every exhibition site in the cave without using the official guide way. The cave guide uses part of these tunnels during guided tours, for example to get faster from the Barbarossadom to the giant hall without having to climb the Calvary . Another part of these tunnels is also used by cave therapy .
Brand's notes from 1935 on the development of the Teufelshöhle from October 1922 to Pentecost 1931 give an insight into the scope of the development work in the Teufelshöhle:
“In the past, the cave was seen as a local scour, a fissured cave. On the basis of comparative research in other Karst countries, however, it had to be regarded as the collapsed subterranean stream bed of a former cave river, the waters of which were discharged here before documentary times. Recognizing the correctness of this interpretation, with the support of a benefactor and the municipality of Pottenstein, the plan was made to open up the sealed off continuations of the cave for the visit. And so in the late autumn of 1922 unexpected life came to the loneliness of the Weiherbach valley. Crowds of workers moved into the cave and the hard struggle with the stone began. Soon the great end wall of the previous cave tunnel had been blown through and the first stalactite grottos were found, which exceeded all expectations in terms of magnificence and beauty. Careful measurements gave an overview of the connections on and below ground. The other easily accessible cave rooms were then made passable, electrically lit and temporarily opened for visits. The deeper, heavily buried, but highly interesting siphon caves with mighty gorges and galleries were wrested from the inside of the mountain with all means of modern technology in another eight years of hard work. Work boomed tirelessly inside; The explosive shots rumbled day and night and the hammer rattled against the hard and tough dolomite rock. Over a distance of several hundred meters, the rock had to be conquered step by step through well-calculated trailing and connecting routes in order to capture all the wonders of the unique underworld untouched. The mine cars rolled incessantly uphill on strong wire ropes and brought the blasted rock into the light of day through the ejection path, the real lifeblood of the whole development. Here the boulders rattled down into the devil's gorge with thunder and crashes, until one day the last break in the route crowned the laborious work. Thus, with the application of engineering, the art of marrow cutting and geology, based on purely scientific considerations and supported by a staff of loyal, devoted workers, the entire development of the confused cave system was brought to a happy conclusion. On the 1st Pentecost holiday in 1931, this monument to advanced development technology and German entrepreneurship was presented to the general public. The cave now shines like an underground magic castle in the magical glow of the electric incandescent bodies. Well-leveled paths and comfortably laid out stairs lead through the fairytale-like rooms, which show a rare splendor and abundance of stalactite formations. At the top of the mountain you finally step into a gorge-like, extremely picturesque gorge and come back to the cave entrance through a wild and romantic rock labyrinth. "
For the first partial opening of the Devil's Cave, the travel and bathing newspaper wrote on August 3, 1923 in Leipzig about a new cave in Franconian Switzerland :
"On August 5th d. J. the opening of a new stalactite cave, the Devil's Cave, takes place by the authorities. Then the release for the audience takes place immediately. The cave is between Schüttersmühle and Pottenstein. The well-known speleologist Prof. Dr. Brandt, by Dr. Forester, who financed the thing, can happily complete the development of the cave. The Devil's Cave is particularly characterized by wonderful stalactite formations of enormous size and splendid delicacy, as well as the well-preserved skeletons and bones of the cave bears, which were cut off from the outside world here by rock fall about 40,000 years ago. Prof. Dr. Schlosser put together the skeleton of a cave bear and placed it in a cave grotto, where these bones were found in the cave. Incidentally, all bone fragments have remained as they were found on the spot. The cave rooms contain radium, which explains why the skulls and all bones are very well preserved. The skeletons of whole packs of cave bears lie together in one place. The cave has become a pass-through cave, thanks to the tireless zeal of the scientists involved. The Leipziger reaches the cave from the Pegnitz train station by post bus to Schuttersmühle; From there you can walk to the cave near the trout farm in five minutes. Wonderful electrical lighting down to the most distant cave crevices show the viewer the most precious stalactites and rock crystals in their full splendor. "
On January 22, 1932, August Sieghardt wrote about the Teufelshöhle in Die Reise , a special supplement to the Nürnberger Zeitung :
“After almost ten years of arduous and expensive work, the development of the famous Teufelshöhle near Pottenstein in Franconian Switzerland has recently been completed. A work has thus been accomplished that in scientific circles is of particular interest not only in making one of the largest and most beautiful stalactite caves in Central Europe accessible, but also in a scientific clarification that is of considerable importance for the speleological (speleological) conditions in Franconian Switzerland Meaning is. […] In 1924 the Teufelshöhle, which has the largest cave entrance in Germany, was already made accessible to an extent of around 800 meters. It was illuminated electrically, was safe to walk on, and in the previous departments it had almost magical stalactite formations, partly in narrow passages, partly in grottos and huge, high rock halls. [...] With these results, Professor Dr. Brand not satisfied, however. Based on his rich karst geological experience, he continued the further development of the devil's cave in 1926 and primarily pursued the extremely elusive and very deep-lying, but very interesting, siphon caves. These were wrested from the inside of the mountain with all means of modern technology. The explosive shots rang out day and night, the rotary hammers rattled against the hard rock; The mine cars rolled incessantly uphill and downhill. With eerie thunders and crashes, the boulders pelted down into the Devil's Gorge, until one day the final breakthrough on the route crowned the laborious work. The gigantic task of Prof. Brands, begun on purely scientific considerations with a staff of tried and tested workers, was completed; the whole opening up of the confused cave system was successfully accomplished! In the summer of 1931 the newly opened rooms were opened to the public. [...] The way the Devil's Cave can be seen today, it means one of the greatest sights of its kind; In terms of size and beauty, it is only surpassed by the world-famous Adelsberg Grotto in New Italy. "
Devil's Cave Bridge
In order to make the Teufelshöhle more accessible from the Pottenstein – Pegnitz road, Brand had the Teufelshöhlenbrücke built in 1932 . The 36-meter-long wooden bridge is 100 meters down the valley from the Teufelshöhle, leads over an 18-meter-deep gorge-like gorge of the Weihersbach and has a span of 20 meters. For the further path to the Teufelshöhle, the path was blasted into the rock walls along the steep valley slope. At that time, the bridge was the shortest connection between the motor road and the business terrace of the Teufelshöhle.
time of the nationalsocialism
On October 12, 1942, the SS set up a satellite camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp, first in Pottenstein and later on the Bernitz , the founder and head of the SS - Standartenführer of the Karstwehr , mining engineer Hans Brand , a good friend of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler . The inmates of the Bernitz camp were men from all over Europe who were liberated by American forces on April 16, 1945.
The prisoners had to do forced labor for several sections of the SS, such as the Waffen SS , the SS Fortification Research Center, the SS News Training Department and the SS Karstwehr Company. Towards the end of the war they had to create the Schöngrundsee and work in and on the Teufelshöhle. They leveled the large parking lot in front of the devil's cave; They cleared the cave of clay and rubble and dug several passages that are not used today because they have no stalactite formations and are therefore of no tourist interest. Above the cave, numerous excavations were carried out in search of further caves in the forest, some of the traces of which can still be seen.
The number of deaths from the work assignments in Pottenstein is not known. More than half of the 746 prisoners used for forced labor in Pottenstein were sent back to Flossenbürg, terminally ill from the harsh working conditions and the harassment of the camp.
After the war
After the war, the rush of visitors started again. Groups of visitors came from greater distances, such as from Berlin and other large cities, but also from abroad. In order to cope with this increased influx of visitors, structural measures were necessary. The terrace café with toilet facilities was built on the cave terrace and a large parking lot for buses and cars in front of the cave instead of the fish pond . The hiking trail to Pottenstein, along the Schöngrundsee and through the Weiherbachtal has also been expanded. A ticket booth was built at the entrance to the cave, which started selling postcards and souvenirs. These structural measures lasted until the 1950s. In 1949 the paleontologist Georg Brunner discovered diluvial animal bones in a crevice. A fatal accident by falling rocks occurred in 1952 during blasting and excavation work to research a new cave area in the Little Devil's Cave. After Hans Brand's death in 1959, the Devil's Cave passed on to his stepdaughter Rita as a legacy . In 1967 the city of Pottenstein took over the cave.
In honor of Hans Brand, an ore cast memorial plaque was ceremoniously unveiled on April 9, 1961 above the entrance to the Teufelshöhle. It bore a portrait of Brand and the inscription "To the explorer and developer of the devil's cave and tireless supporter of Franconian Switzerland, the city of Pottenstein in admiration and gratitude."
After Brands' Nazi past caused a sensation a few years ago, the plaque was perceived as offensive. Even if it was not noticed by every cave visitor, it was criticized and the town of Pottenstein was accused of honoring a war criminal with a plaque. In 1997 strangers stole the tablet.
In 1971, an air-conditioned cave laboratory was put into operation in the Kleine Teufelshöhle as the first of its kind in Germany. In 1986 speleotherapy began in a side corridor . In the early 1990s, the cave bear's skeleton was restored under the direction of Donat Kamphausen . The posture of the skeleton was changed and it was given a more attractive place in the cave. The numerous bones were prepared to keep them from decaying. A cultural program has been offered in the Teufelshöhle since 1994.
In 1997 it became known that sequels to the Devil's Cave had been searched unsuccessfully. The cave laboratory was drilled through and totally destroyed. In the cave, technical improvements were made from time to time, changed handrails and protective grids were installed and a modern lighting system was installed. In 2000 a modern sound system was set up and in some cave areas colored lighting was installed to illuminate cavities and stalactites in red and blue. In 2002 the 80th anniversary of the development of the Devil's Cave was celebrated. In 2006, the entire outside area of the cave was renovated for 15,000 euros: railings and information boards were attached, new seating groups and benches were set up, and a new path was laid out.
In August 2007, after around six weeks of work, the old lighting was replaced by around 330 LED lamps, which were first switched on on August 24th during guided tours. Because of their cold light, these lamps have less of an impact on the microclimate and the lamp flora. The energy requirement is around a tenth of the previous lighting. The lifespan of these LED lights is around 80,000 hours, which corresponds to around 25 years of operation. For this purpose, over 6000 meters of new power and control lines were laid in the cave and battery-supported emergency lighting was installed in the event of a power failure for the safety of the cave visitors; the acoustic system was revised. In the three large halls, in the domed hall , in the Barbarossadom and in the giant hall , 130 LED lamps were installed, the lighting concept of which is that individual stalactite sections are illuminated one after the other and this is coordinated with music. The Teufelshöhle association has invested a total of around 265,000 euros, 90 percent of which was funding. 55 percent came from the economic development fund of the Free State of Bavaria and a further 35 percent from the Upper Franconian Foundation. This was the largest investment since the cave was opened in the 1920s.
A side tunnel in the devil's cave is used for speleotherapy . The therapy area is cordoned off from the rest of the visitor area in the cave. The Therapy Center Teufelshöhle is a founding member of the German Heilstollenverband , an association of currently twelve speleotherapy centers in Germany. Therapy cures have been offered in the Teufelshöhle since 1986, for which 50 therapy places are available, which are spread over three rooms for adults and one room for children. Speleotherapy can provide relief for respiratory diseases such as hay fever , asthma , chronic bronchitis and allergic sinus diseases and skin diseases such as neurodermatitis . This therapy is also used in children with whooping cough or small children with pseudo croup . The patient stays in the devil's cave for two hours a day, over a period of about three weeks. Shorter lying cures (three to five applications) have also been offered since 2012. Lying cures underground are carried out daily from March or April to October or November.
The low temperature of nine degrees and the high humidity of 95 percent offer ideal conditions for the therapy. The air in the cave contains less pollutants, pollen, dust and mold. This means that hardly any foreign matter gets into the lungs when breathing; the overexcited mucous membranes calm down and patients can breathe more easily. A rest cure lasts three to five weeks, with the patient spending two hours a day in the cave. Every year around 1500 to 2000 spa guests take part in this therapy, with around 70 percent of the patients doing significantly better after this treatment. With some, the success lasts for months, some are even without symptoms for years. In 2007, 1630 patients took advantage of this alternative treatment method, in 2008 there were 1338.
Speleotherapy in the Teufelshöhle could soon give the Pottenstein community the status of a “climatic health resort”. The prerequisite for this is that the legal regulations for the use of the local remedy "cave therapy" are passed by the state of Bavaria - as has already been done in Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg. In the event of a positive decision, Pottenstein will immediately and intensively endeavor to obtain the classification as a “place with a healing cave spa”, which is to be equated with that of a “climatic spa”.
Shortly after the Second World War , Hans Brand intended to conduct cave therapy in the Devil's Cave, more precisely in the Small Devil's Cave. It was started to open up the Little Devil's Cave for this. In 1952, however, while working in the Little Devil's Cave, a boulder came loose from the ceiling and a worker was killed. Thereupon the work was stopped and the project abandoned.
Cave clay from the Devil's Cave was used for healing purposes even before the Second World War. During the development of the cave and also afterwards, the cave clay, the so-called "miracle earth", was mined and used as fango . The cave mud sales department of the Devil's Cave Administration at that time sent this medicinal cave clay as "Devil's Cave Fango" in two-kilogram tins all over the world.
Germany's only cave laboratory is located in a side part of the cave, the Little Devil's Cave. The cave laboratory consists of two air-conditioned rooms. The measuring devices themselves are mainly located in the Kleiner Teufelsloch / nettle building system. This research laboratory was set up in 1971 by the research group Höhle und Karst Franken . Initially, the laboratory consisted of a small room next to the ticket booth of the Devil's Cave and the expanded Small Devil's Cave. In 1979 the Teufelshöhlen administration registered their own use for their small room, which meant the move for the laboratory. In order to keep the cable routes of the transducers as short as possible, the measuring room was built into the cave itself.
Investigations on the cave climate, drip water cycles in relation to precipitation as well as further cave-specific and hydrological investigations are carried out by volunteer members of the research group. Precipitation measurements of textile dust inside the cave are carried out, as well as long-term measurements of the carbon dioxide content of the show cave air. Long-term measurements are made of the pouring ratio of ceiling drip points. With measuring sensors developed in-house, the fall of every single drop is registered and recorded contactlessly at seven drop points in the Little Devil's Cave. These investigations also revealed some amazing things. It has been shown that there are differences in the speed of the drops in the cave. The drops sometimes fall faster, sometimes more slowly from the ceiling. Like the ebb and flow of the tide, this influence on the speed of the drops depends on the position of the moon. In the winter months, bat activities are observed with modified radar sensors from the safety technology.
Legends and rumors
This place was considered scary by the locals for centuries. The popular belief that the devil used the cave as the entrance to hell contributed to the origin of the name. People who nevertheless dared to penetrate his kingdom would become an irredeemable prey of Satan. Horror stories of light-shy rabble who stayed inside the devil's hole were told. Also wisps hovering at certain hours of the cave space, have observed and heard cries of despair of lost souls. The legend that the robber baron Udo von Wichsenstein is said to have used the cave as a shelter has far more content . Legend has it that he made a pact with the devil.
Even today the Teufelshöhle is not free from stories: Some Pottensteiners speak of a mirror hall, also of explosive Nazi documents or even of the legendary Amber Room , which is said to have been hidden in the Teufelshöhle during the war. For this reason it is said to have been investigated. In 1997 it was finally announced that two hitherto completely unknown hobby treasure hunters were looking for sequels to the Devil's Cave. The Zweckverband Teufelshöhle provided the two “researchers” with 80,000 DM. Drilling was carried out in the forest above the cave and a cavity was drilled in the process. However, it was the cave laboratory, which was completely destroyed (property damage of several thousand DM). But in the end nothing was found. The official statement is that cave explorers have been looking for new cave spaces, but since cave plans exist that are accessible to every cave explorer, this is more than unlikely. Rather, the rumors about a secret chamber may have been the reason.
There is also a story circulating among the population that Brand later discovered a much more beautiful cave in Franconian Switzerland. For fear that this could overtake the devil's cave, all documents and evidence were destroyed and possibly even the people involved were killed. However, these are in fact only rumors, as no evidence has been found to support these claims.
Another “rumor” is true in certain points. If you speak to the cave operator or the cave guide about it, they usually react a little irritated. It is said that individual stalactites, some even speak of many stalactites, did not grow where they are. Some of them were brought here from other areas of the cave, and some are said to have come from other caves in the area. They either knocked them off or sawed them off on site and then put them back up in the Devil's Cave to make the cave more attractive to visitors. “Wrong” stalactites can be recognized by the geological conditions because they cannot have grown at this point. Some of them are simply stuck in the ground, or the ceiling region above does not represent a drip point for water, the master builder of the stalactites. These stalactites are not recognized as "wrong" by every visitor; the “normal” cave tourist, who is only rarely in a cave, does not notice anything, while “experienced” cave-goers discover these stalactites earlier.
The Teufelshöhle can be reached via the B 470 , which leads from Forchheim via Pottenstein to Pegnitz . The devil's cave is well developed for mass tourism. A large (paid) car park with free toilets is right next to the street at the foot of the Teufelshöhle. Directly on the rocky plateau of the cave entrance is a terrace café with plenty of seating. In the upper entrance area in front of the wooden door there is a TV screen, where the waiting cave visitor can watch a video film about Pottenstein and Franconian Switzerland.
The Devil's Cave has always been a real tourist attraction; After the first partial opening of the cave in August 1923, a mass visit began. The tourism in Pottenstein has taken a huge boom. In the peak years over 300,000 visitors came. In the 1980s there was a decrease in the number of visitors, with a low of 216,401 in 1985. After that, the number of visitors rose somewhat, to a high of 249,944 visitors since the early 1980s in the early 1990s, in 1991 to reach. The number of visitors then fell again relatively quickly. At the end of the 1990s the number of visitors was a five-year average (1996 to 2000) at 208,000 visitors, with a maximum of 217,329 in 1997. In recent years, after a further decline (since 2001, under 200,000 visitors annually), the number of visitors has been proportionate stable and leveled off at a value of 142,500 between 2011 and 2015.
With this value, the Devil's Cave with the Atta Cave (around 150,000 to 200,000 visitors annually) is the most frequently visited German show cave and is well ahead of the Karls- und Bärenhöhle ( 78,200 visitors annually ) and the two caves in Rübeland , the Baumannshöhle (annually 93,600 visitors ) and the Hermannshöhle ( 73,600 visitors annually ). In the past few years, the six most important show caves in Franconian Switzerland have joined forces to form the Jura Caves Association and are now operating a joint marketing strategy that has a positive effect on the number of visitors to this association. Within this cave network, the Teufelshöhle lies well in front of the Binghöhle (around 31,700 visitors annually) and the Sophienhöhle (around 27,400 visitors annually).
Flora and fauna
In the Devil's Cave, especially in the Little Devil's Hole, many remains of primeval animals were found that perished in the cave. Most of these fossils date from the Worm Ice Age around 30,000 years ago. The state of preservation of the bones embedded in the cave clay was sometimes so good that it was not at all easy to distinguish these old bones from younger ones. The consistently low temperatures of the cave are particularly good at preserving animal bones and other remains of organic material. Remains of animals have been found that had withdrawn there a few years or decades ago. Above all, these are bats and other insect eaters , but also reptiles , rodents and amphibians . Living things that can no longer be found in this area today were found in somewhat deeper cave clay layers. These were often species of animals now found in the arctic regions. Lemmings , mountain hares , reindeer and the arctic fox have all been found. Completely extinct species, such as the cave hyena and especially the many bones of the cave bears , were found in the devil's cave . However, not only the remains of the animals that perished there were found, but also their prey : elk , bison , whistle hares , reindeer and deer and many others.
These finds give a good overview of the fauna of the Ice Age . A close look at the individual layers of the find and the fossil composition suggest certain climatic fluctuations.
Traces of human settlement are also said to have been found in the area of the Teufelshöhle. In the middle of the last century, a discovery of human traces in the so-called clay cave was reported. This discovery caused a sensation at the time. It was a club of mammoth bones and other smooth and pointed bones. However, based on current knowledge, the assumptions turned out to be false. The devices found turned out to be ground off remains of animal bones, which were given their shape without the assistance of Ice Age humans.
The bones and skulls of around 80 cave bears belonging to different generations were found in the Devil's Cave . They died of natural causes in the cave. However, no fully preserved bear skeleton was found.
At the end of the 1950s, the Munich paleontologist Max Schlosser put together an animal skeleton from individual parts, which has been on display in the Teufelshöhle since 1959. The cave bear lived here about 30,000 years ago, was around three meters tall and weighed 400 kilograms. Klaus P. Weiss , the former geoscientific taxidermist of the Franconian Switzerland Museum in Tüchersfeld , restored the skeleton under the direction of Donat Kamphausen at the beginning of the 1990s, assigned it a more attractive place in the cave and prepared the other remains of bones on display. The reconstruction of the cave bear skeleton is of great museum value.
Bats live in the Devil's Cave and hibernate from October to March and are among the most highly developed cave dwellers. Much of the life of bats is still in the dark. For this reason, the slope behavior and bat activities are monitored by radar sensors from the cave laboratory in the winter months. The Teufelshöhle is part of the central bat cadastre, in which nationwide censuses are carried out annually in the winter months. The most common species in the Devil's Cave, the Natterer's bat , the greater mouse-eared , the Daubenton's bat and the brown long-eared . In the Devil's Cave, the bats are mostly in hidden corners and niches, in an area of the cave that is not visited by visitors.
In the Devil's Cave, since the first use of electrical lighting in 1923, distinct and individually different plant communities have developed in the light of the lamps (see also lamp flora ). Various types of algae, mosses and even ferns have settled, which would have no chance of survival without artificial lighting because of the absolute darkness of the cave. The plants are not evenly distributed because chance also plays a role as to which spores get into the illuminated area. Organisms that are not enough light, such as algae, settle at greater distances from the lamps. As the distance to the light source decreases, i.e. with increasing light intensity and heat radiation, this green zone gradually changes into a moss belt. With some lamps no or only a small lamp flora could develop due to the drought. The metabolism of the lamp flora differs markedly from that of the plants of the same species growing outside the cave. They are mostly stunted forms that could not survive in absolute darkness without artificial lighting. A few years ago the Cave and Karst group started a long-term experiment to determine to what extent the lamp flora could be influenced by an emerging development in LED technology. It has been found that the lamp flora is receding and partially disappearing due to the lack of heat development and the changed light spectrum of the LED lights.
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