Grottenburg Balm

Useful Information

Location: Balm near Günsberg.
(47.255534, 7.555242)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Castle
Light: bring torch
Dimension: W=20 m, L=6 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Kurt Hasler (1997): Höhlenburgen - kühn gelegen wie Dohlennester: von der solothurnischen Grottenburg Balm zu den Höhlenburgen Graubündens, In: Lueg nit verby, Jg. 72, 1997, S. 50-57. Abb.
S. Pinösch (1943): Die Grottenburg Balm
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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11th century castle built by the Freiherren von Balm (Barons of Balm).
1939 start of renovation.
1941 renovation completed.


Grottenburg Balm is a cave castle, Grottenburg is the local term for this, Grotte means cave and burg means castle. It is located at the foot of the Balmfluh, a white limestone cliff with overhanging walls. The original castle consisted of three parts, a lower part at the foot of the cliff with barns and tents, a middle part connecting the lower part with the core of the castle, and the stronghold, located in a huge natural cave. The inhabitants lived in the stronghold in the cave. It was built by closing a 20 m wide and 6 m deep cave by 2 m thick wall. The interior had two levels, which is visible because of the holes intended for timbers.

The Freiherren von Balm (Barons of Balm) ruled the villages Balm, Günsberg, Niederwil, Flumenthal, the dominion Altishofen and several villages along the rivers Wigger and Rothbach. They are the most likely constructors of the castle, which was inhabited from around 1000 to 1400. But their main castle was Feste Altbüron in Oberaargau, and this castle was most likely inhabited by vassals. The head of the family Rudolf von Balm participates 1308 in the assassination attempt against King Albrecht. The assassination fails, the participants are punished by a ban of the Empire. Their property is destroyed or sold, and so this castle is sold too and had numerous owners during the next 100 years. During this time it becomes ruined and at the beginning of the 15th century it is abandoned.