Meet at the Hauptplatz, at the Rathaus. Tickets sold at the Informationsbüro (Tourist Info).
JAN to FEB Sat, Sun, Hol 14.
MAR to APR daily 14.
MAY to OCT daily 10:30, 14, 16.
NOV to DEC daily 14.
Adults EUR 10, School Pupils EUR 3.50, Children (0-6) free.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 8.50.
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|L=21,000 m, VR=30 m, T=10-12 °C.
|Retzer Erlebniskeller, Informationslokal Tourismusverein Retz, Hauptplatz 30, 2070 Retz, 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.
|Retz founded at the crossroad between two medieval trade routes.
|burned down by the Hussites (Taborites).
|caves surveyed by the Germany, plans to create underground factories were never carried out.
The city of Retz is the center of the area, a rural hill-country, which is famous for its wines. The ground below Retz is a thick layer of Miocene (Tertiary) marine sand, a slightly solidified layer of quartz sand, 25 Million years old. The sand is rather easy to dig, a shovel is enough, but still the cellars are very stable. The porous sand allows water to go through, so the humidity is up to 87% and the temperature constant around 10 to 12 °C. The main reason to dig cellars was the experience, that the constant temperature allowed wine to mature to a very high quality. This made it an attractive for the export to surrounding countries.
The cellars are very old, although their age is not exactly known. Obviously they were built and enlarged during centuries. The city was founded during the 13th century, so they are not older. There is a document which tells that in 1425, when the city was burned down by the Hussites, they conquered the town by digging underneath the southern town walls. It is obvious that this only worked, if they hit the cellars, which already had a certain size.
The arched vaults are stable, and many still exist exactly in the way they were dug. During the 19th and 20th centuries many of the cellars were lined with brick. This was done to enhance the prestige, not because of any technical reason. Vent shafts leading up to streets, alleys, yards and gardens, had two important technical uses. They were vapour outlets and thus used to regulate humidity, on the other hand they reduced the carbon dioxide which was created by the fermenting wine.
The second important use of the vents was to give some orientation about the location of the cellar. Each house used to have its own cellar entrance, the cellar was built immediately behind the house. The cellar was dug in both, horizontal and vertical directions, and they were lengthened as and when necessary. Obviously they do not correspond to the boundaries of the land of their owner. Sometimes the cellars were two or three levels below ground.
The cellars were always very big. The cellar of the Liebl house was measured to be 860 m long, a cellar in the Lehengasse was 460 m long. And there are virtually hundreds of cellars. Some of them were surveyed during World War II, as the Germans planned to build a factory in the cellars. Fortunately this was never carried out, probably because of the humidity.
During the reign of Kaiser Friedrich III, in 1458, the city became a prerogative right. Empress Maria Theresa issued a patent, which rescinded all the former privileges, in the tradition of Austrian reform absolutism which was based on a liberal market economy. This was the start of the socalled Kellergassen (cellar alleys) in Retz and the villages around.
Today only the wine farmers and wine merchants still use their cellars. Some of them are used to store wine, other for exhibition and presentation purposes. There are regular tours into the cellars, which show the history of the cellars and the wine. The tours include free wine for the adults. There are different kinds of events held in the cellars, like workshops and concerts.