Balver Höhle

Cave of Balve

Useful Information

Location: A45 exit Lüdenscheid, B229 26km to Balve Werdohl, located at the road to Helle, 1km NE Balve. (51°20'21.82"N,7°52'19.26"E)
Open: Only after appointment, for groups of 10 or more. [2004]
Fee: Adults EUR 1. [2004]
Classification: ExplainKarst cave, horizontal cave, Oberes Devon (Massenkalk)
Light: electric
Dimension: L=150m, B=18m, H=12m, 240m asl GR: L=60m, B=18m, H=11m. Portal: H=12m, B=18m.
Guided tours: L=500m, V=15,000/a [2005].
Bibliography: -
Address: Verkehrsverein Balve e.V., Widukindplatz 1, 58802 Balve, Tel: +49-2375-926-190, Fax: +49-2375-926-191. 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.


1690 first appearance in a map.
1791 first noticed.
1840 construction of a shooting-ground near the entrance.
1843 examination of the cave by the Bergamt Bonn.
1844 archaeological excavation by Wagner and Castendyck.
1870 archaeological excavation by Virchow.
1871 archaeological excavation by Dechen.
1872 archaeological excavation by Schaafhausen.
1925 archaeological excavation by Andree.
1938 archaeological excavation by Wehrli.
1939 archaeological excavation by Bahnschulte.
1944 installation of an armament plant in the cave.
1947 a plan to blow the cave up because of the armmament plant was stopped by a citizens' action.


The Balver Höhle (cave of Balve) is named after the small village Balve nearby. It is a cave ruin consisting of a single huge chamber, shaped like a Y.

This cave was a popular shelter during the Paleozoic Era, so it was dubbed Kulturhöhle (culture cave). Before the cave was excavated it was filled with probably 9m high sediments. This were mostly rocks from the cave ceiling, detached by the freeze/thaw cycle, which covered the human remains of 100,000 years and protected them. In the 1930s people from Balve started to mine the sediments as a fertilizer, as they containd phosphates from bat guano and the animal remains. Hundreds of stone tools were thrown away, mostly on piles in front of the caves. The remaining undisturbed layers were excavated later, and 700 stone tools uncountable amounts of debris of a Stone Age tool factory were discovered. The layers also contained the remains of cave bear, mammoth, horse, giant deer and others.

The most interesting discovery is probably a 4,60m long mammoth Das schönste Fundstück ist wohl ein langer mammoth tusk, a replica may be visited in the Heimatmuseum Arnsberg (heritage museum of Arnsberg). All together more than 50,000 artefacts were found in the cave which makes it one of the most important paleolithic sites in Europe.

Acording to legend the cave of Balve is the place where the workshop of blacksmith Wieland, dem Schmied aus der Nibelungensage once was. An English document tells about Wieland, that he worked and lived in the area which is now southern Westfalia. But only in a reprint from Soest the cave of Balve is mentioned, probably because the copier knew an according legend.

The cave is used until today. The Festspielverein Balver Hohle e.V. (play group of the Balve cave) stages concerts and fairy tale plays. The Schützenverein (gun club) uses the cave for its yearly Schützenfest fair. In former years there were regular guided tours into the cave, at least while it was not used for an event. But today the cave is managed by the Verkehrsverein Balve and visits are only possible for groups after prior arrangement. However, you may visit one of the concerts or performances.