Aescher Wildkirchli

Useful Information

Location: A13 (43) exit Widnau or Oberriet, about 10 km to Altstätten, 15 km to Appenzell, 1 km before Appenzell turn left to Steinegg, Weissbad, Schwende. Follow signs to Ebenalp cable car. At the end of the road, behind the cable car parking. The caves are 15 mins walk from the upper (Ebenalp) station. Follow signs.
Open: no restrictions
Fee: none
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave cave ruin
Light: not necessary
Dimension: A=1,477 m to 1,500 m asl.
Guided tours: n/a
Address: No address for the cave itself.
Berggasthaus Aescher Wildkirchli, Beny & Claudia Knechtle-Wyss, CH-9057 Weissbad AI, Tel: +41-71799-1142, Fax: +41-71799-1856. E-mail: contact
Museum Appenzell, Hauptgasse 4, 9050 Appenzell, Tel. +41-71788-9631, Fax +41-71788-9649. E-mail: contact
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.


1524 first mentioned in a description of the Pilatus mountains by Joachim Vadian.
1621 cave first visited by P. Philipp Tanner, first altar in the cave built.
1646 Bau eines steinernen Altars, einer Sakristei und eines Eremitenhäuschens in der Höhle auf Veranlassung von P. Philipp.
1658-60 first hermit in the cave was Paulus Ulmann. From this time hermits, called Waldbrüder lived in the cave.
1716 first detailed description by the Capuchin P. Clemns from Appenzell in the book Naturhistorie des Schweizerlandes (Natural History of Switzerland) by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer.
1786 first copper engraving by the artist Georg Leonhard Hartmann from Sankt Gallen.
1853 the last hermit died after he took a purler when collecting leaves.
1864 first hydrogeologic dye tracing experiment, using brasilian wood, unfortunately without result.
1902 relief in the Aescher wall by Viktor von Schäffel inaugurated.
1903-1908 excavations by the St. Gallen archaeologist Emil Bächler.
1958-1960 excavations by Elisabeth Schmid.


The Wildkirchli, the name may be translated into "little church in the wilderness", is a huge cave ruin in the southeast flank of the Ebenalp mountain. It was used for several hundred years, by shepards staying there with their herds and sometimes as a church.

All in all there are various caves summarized under the term Wildkirchli or Aescher Wildkirchli. They are located at about 1,500 m asl. A small wooden church is built into one entrance of the cave.

The Wildkirchli caves were excavated at the beginning of the 20th century, between 1903 and 1908, by the St. Gallen archaeologist Emil Bächler (*1868-✝1950). He was first looking for bones of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) which he found, but then he discovered