Saturday, May 23, 2015

Devil's Cave (Teufelshöhle), Pottenstein, Germany

Usually on a long weekend Drew and I try to travel out of Germany, but this time due to unforeseen circumstances we had to cancel our plans only to have found out the day before that we could have kept our original plans! (Yay Army life!)
So I took the Friday before Memorial day off thinking if anything I could have a relaxing day off. Drew didn't have to work this day, so Thursday night while Drew was sleeping away on the couch with Rylie, I decided that we should do something Friday. Obviously it would have to be a day trip some where within 3 hours of us, and I thought about heading down to Stuttguart and checking out the Hohenzollern Castle. Only things didn't work out that way, we had left later than anticipated, and Drew had remembered that he had made plans to go to dinner with friends who were leaving Germany the next day. So 20 minutes into our drive, we decided to change plans! This isn't something we ever do. 
Sidles' @ Devil's Cave, 2015

Since we were near the Grafenwoehr exit I suggested since it was a beautiful day that we check out the Devils Cave, or Teufelshöhle, is a dripstone cave located in the town of Pottenstein, Bavaria, Germany. The cave is 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) long and is the longest in Germany and the largest in Franconian Switzerland. While we were worried about all the different countries we could go to, all of our friends have stayed close to home and checked out Pottenstein,

The entrance

Some back story to the Devil's cave, it is 13m wide, 11m high and 80m deep portal in the walls of the Weiherbachtal (Weiherbach valley) is known for a very long time. It was called Teufelsloch (Devils hole) by the locals. Only about 100m were accessible at this time. The discovery of new parts increased the cave length to 1,500m. 

There are lots of signs that will take you to Pottenstein, you have to look for the sign that say Teufelshohle, it doesn't actually say, "Devil's Cave" But you can see the cave entrance from the road. There is parking right out side of the cave. It is 2 Euros for 2.5 hours. The tours are only 45 minutes and there are tours every hour, it costs 4.50 euros per person to get in, you are able to take as many pictures as you want, you're just not able to use the flash. 

Taking pictures in a poorly lighted cave without flash isn't as great as it sounds, but we made the most of it. Rylie was even able to come with us! She does very well whenever we take her with us. The tour starts with the guide talking in German, when the guide is finished they turn on a sound system that speaks in English and tells you exactly what he said. Rylie got pretty restless at these points, I can't blame her though. I would've too. 
The entrance, "Middle portion of the cave"

At the end of the 19th century the cave was completely damaged, no dripstones remained and the bones in the cave sediments were removed almost completely. The show cave of today was discovered 1922 by Hans Brand behind the long known entrance. The new parts contained several huge halls with beautiful speleothems and numerous bones. Most of the bones were from cave bears (Ursus spelaeus). 
Full skeleton of a bear!
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Bear bones!

The middle of the cave!

The paleontologist Max Schlosser reconstructed the skeleton of a cave bear, which is now on display in the cave. Remains of human origin were not found. After the discovery, Hans Brand developed the cave as a show cave. The first hall of the tour shows a small display of mining machinery, which was used to develop the cave, among them lores and drills. The character of the cave is typical for the local dolomite karst: huge chambers and narrow connections. In order to connect the halls with paths of suitable size, numerous tunnels were driven into the rock. 

The result is the longest cave tour in Germany, about 1,500m long, with about half of the distance being artificial tunnels. The biggest chamber is called Riesensaal (Giants chamber) with a length of 30m and a width of 16m. The most interesting stalagtes are the Barbarossa and the crucifixion, three larger stalagmites sourrounded by smaller once, symolizing the people. 
The biggest sight of the cave is outside and freely accessible. The portal of the cave, the cave cafe, numerous small caves and abris all around, and the cave exit itself. From the cave exit the path leads through a labyrinth of strange looking rocks back to the cave entrance.

It was the perfect day for a little hike. Even though we didn't plan to check out the Devil's cave, it was nice to have something to do when the sun was out! It wasn't even a bad hike. There were some parts where I had to bend down, so for all you tall people you need to watch out. But it was a pretty awesome experience and Pottenstein is only 35 minutes away from us!