8 km from Weiz.
The approach road branches off the road at Graz at Göttelsberg and leads via Leska, Haselbach and Dürntal to the Katerloch car park. From here it is a 5 minute walk to the cave.
|Open:||APR-OCT daily 10-16. Only after appointment. |
|Fee:||4-5 persons: per person EUR 30. 6-8 persons: per person EUR 25. 9-10 persons: per person EUR 20. |
|Dimension:||A=900m asl., T=5°C.|
|Guided tours:||L=1,000m, VR=135m, ST=400, D=120min.|
|Address:||Mag. Fritz Geissler, Ackeraustraße 19, 8160 Weiz, Tel: +43-664-4853420, Fax: +43-3172-3689 E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1837||oldest picture of the cave, engraving by August Mandel.|
|1841||engraving by Josef Kuwasseg.|
|1899||first exploration by Adolf Mayer.|
|1908||exploration by Hermann Bock, first survey.|
|1923||exploration by Otto Kropatsch and his caving club Verein für Höhlenkunde Weiz.|
|1932||survey by the Landesverein für Höhlenkunde in Steiermark.|
|1951||first exploration by the couple Hermann and Regina Hofer.|
|1952||many new passages discovered by the Hofers.|
|27-MAR-1954||declared a Naturdenkmal (Natural Monument) by the Bundesdenkmalamt.|
|1955||discovery of the Seeparadies (Lake Paradise).|
|08-JUN-1958||opened to the public.|
|1984||cave closed to the public because of the age of the Hofers, special tours after appointment.|
|2001||cave passed to Mag. Fritz Geissler, restauration of path and electricity.|
|APR-2004||reopened for small groups after appointment.|
The Katerloch is not a show cave any more, but after being closed for 20 years, it is now open again for small groups. Groups between four and ten people may visit the cave after appointment. The trips take two hours and are a sort of easy spelunking tours. Cave equipment is not needed, as the stairs and paths still exist, but appropriate clothes and good walking boot are definitely a good idea. The guides ask their visitors to be of "appropriate physical fitness".
The Katerloch was named after a bird of prey, the Eulenkater, which is a local owl. This gives some reason for misunderstandings, as Kater is the German word for a male cat, and most people think the name means cat's cave. In this case it is a local dialect abbreviation of the owl's name and thus the cave name means owl's cave.
The entrance is a huge open portal, overlooking the Raab river valley. The entrance chamber is leading downwards, with debris and dripstones covered by moss. The columns are huge, the biggest one is 22m high and has a circumference of 46m, which makes it one of the hugest stalagmites in Europe. The biggest chamber is the Fantasiehalle (fantasy chamber) which is 120m long and up to 85m wide.
This cave is extremly beautiful and rich in speleothems. Many descriptions include the term "most beautiful cave of Austria" or "most dripstone-rich cave of Austria". So a visit is much recommended, despite the high price and the necessity to get an appointment. We are not sure if it still is the most beautiful cave (which is also a matter of personal opinion) as there are new discoveries and especially the young Obir show cave.
This is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful caves we have ever visited.
It is owned by Herman and Regina Hofer to whom must go all the credit for the discovery and its subsequent opening as a show cave. Before we went underground we heard a tape recording in English telling us what we could, and could not do, in the cave and how all the beauty was really the work of God. We were told that this recording had been made in seven different languages for the benefit of foreign tourists. Children under 1.5m are not allowed down the cave, neither are people with heart diseases and asthma etc. One cannot carry handbags, radios etc and protective clothing is also provided for those who want it. Part of the proceeds of this cave go towards further exploration.
The entrance chamber is really huge, about 60m across and at the bottom is a short section of passage leading to the newly discovered section.
It was then that we realised why there are such stringent regulations governing entry into the cave for we had to descend a 20m iron ladder, and this was not the only one in the cave. Still, most of the visitors seem to manage it quite well, even the ladies dressed in their Sunday best!
Then we began to have some sort of impression of just what sort of cave Katerloch was. We soon came into the Hall of Phantasy, 109m deep, 76m wide and 13m high, which is just crammed with the most wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, most of which have united to form columns.
At the top of this chamber we noted the hole through which Herman and Regina Hofer had come in to discover this section of the cave.
We passed on down this wonderful chamber, fully impressed, but more was yet to come. We went down a narrow ladder into a section known as Sea Paradise which consists of a lake about 10m in diameter with a huge pillar standing in it, and this is lit in varying manners to give the most wonderful effects. It really was a breathtaking sight, especially with the stern figure of Mr Hofer narrating the tale of its discovery in the background.
It is not until one starts to go out again that one fully appreciates the number of steps one has come down and the vast amount of loving work and patience which has gone into making this wonderful show place into something which can be appreciated by the public.
Text by Tony and Anne Oldham (July 1964). With kind permission.