Otto M. Schmitz (2004):
Veränderungen bei der Graselhöhle (6846/2) von Maria Dreieichen,
HKM, Höhlenkundliche Mitteilungen des Landesvereins für Höhlenkunde in Wien und Niederösterreich, 60. Jg. (2004), Heft 7/8, S. 88.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in
brackets), but may have changed since then.
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This rather small cave, called Graselhöhle after the Räuberhauptmann (robber) Johann Georg Grasel, was lately renovated. A staircase with a wooden rail leads to the entrance, the place in front was flattened and equipped with seats. The cave was closed with an iron bar door and locked. But through the gate the small cave is still fully visible and now equipped with electric light and a description and a picture of the outlaw Grasel. The electric light can be started by the visitor on demand and turns off automatically after some time. The cliff front was covered by wood after a rockfall, which is actually not very professional and generally considered an eyesore.
Johann Georg Grasel (*1790-✝1818) was the Robin Hood of the area of south Moravia and northern Lower Austria. The cave was named after him because legend tells he used it as a hideout. In the Waldviertel, a part of Lower Austria, he is today used as a tourist draw. There are novels, poems, and plays telling his legend, and even caves and inns named after him.
However, at the same time he was known as a brutal rascal. Because of this, his name is until today the Czech language word for villain: grázl. He was a member of a huge family of knackers who also were notorious for begging and stealing, whatever was fortunate. As a result he was forced to steal as a child and served his first sentence of two weeks in prison at the age of nine. Later he was the head of various groups of brutal robbers. He was caught in 1815 with 66 of his men and sentenced to death for 205 crimes, including several murders. In 1818, he was hanged, and when he reached the huge crowd of 60,000 people who came for his execution he said „Jessas, so vül Leit!“ (Jesus, what a crowd).
This place is a part of the local Wallfahrt (pilgrimage) trail. Maria Dreieichen became a famous pilgrimage destination during the Baroque. While the pilgrims mostly go to the baroque church, there is also a trail leading to the Heiliges Bründl (holy spring), also named Augenbründl (eye spring). This short trail is a way of the cross with a series of stations reminding the history of Jesus walking to his crucifiction. At the end of the trail is the spring with supposed healing properties, a vending machine for plastic bottles to fill in the holy water and a "Kein trinkwasser!" (non potable) sign. Pretty funny!
And here at the end of the trail is the staircase which goes up to the small artificial cave. Once it was probably an Erdstall, a mysterious type of artificial caves which are found in Bavaria and Austria, their origin and use still unknown. The name and the legend about being a hideout for Grasel are obviously just imagination. The cave is tiny, uncomfortable and Grasl never used caves as a hideout, he had relatives and friends everywhere who hid him. It seems the legend was invented for the pilgrims, to make the place more interesting for them.