Unicorn Cave

Useful Information

The entrance to the Unicorn Cave.
Location: 2 km northeast Scharzfeld, 15 km southeast Osterode.
A7 exit Seesen(Harz), B243 34 km to exit Scharzfeld. Through Scharzfeld, turn left after the city center, paved single lane road 2 km to parking lot, signposted. 300 m walk to the cave.
(51.635147, 10.404390)
Open: APR to OCT Tue-Sun 10-17, tours hourly on the full hour.
JAN to MAR Sat, Sun 11-16.
During Christmas School Holidays of Niedersachsen daily 11-16.
Last tour one hour before closing.
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (6-12) EUR 4.50, Children (0-5) EUR 1.50.
Groups (20+): special rates with advanced reservation and payment in one amount.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave horizontal cave, Zechstein-Dolomit TopicDragon Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=610 m, H=25 m. GR: L=30 m, H=12 m.
Guided tours: L=492 m, D=50 min., St=60, V=15,000/a [2005].
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Fritz Reinboth (2001): Über das "vermeynte bey Quedlinburg gefundene Einhorn", Mitt. Verb. dt. Höhlen- u. Karstforsch. 47, H. 4, S. 106 - 107, München (Deutsch - German)
Ralf Nielbock (1990): Die Einhornhöhle-ein quartärwissenschaftliches Kleinod im Südharz , Mitt.Verb. dt. Höhlen- & Karstforscher, H.36 (2): S. 24-27, 2 Abb.; München 1990. (Deutsch - German)
Erich Thenius (1997): Neues vom Einhorn - Fabelwesen oder reale Existenz? Sage oder Wirklichkeit?, Natur und Museum, 127 (1), Frankfurt a.M., 1.1.1997, S. 1-10, 9 Abb. (Deutsch - German)
Klaus Duphorn (1969): Geologische Ergebnisse einer Grabung in der Einhornhöhle bei Scharzfeld am Harz, in: Der Südharz - seine Geologie, seine Höhlen und Karsterscheinungen, Jh. Karst- u. Höhlenkunde, Heft 9, München 1969. Worldonline (Deutsch - German)
Address: Gesellschaft Unicornu fossile e.V., Geschäftsstelle Einhornhöhle, Dr. Ralf-D. Nielbock, Im Strange 12, 37520 Osterode am Harz, Tel: +49-5522-31593-85, Fax: +49-5522-31593-86, Handy +49-160-96753324. 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.


the interesting ceiling of a chamber.
1541 first mentioned in a land register, called Zwergenlöcher.
1583 elaborate description by the chronist Letzner.
1686 scientific excavation, description and trip report by Leibniz.
1729 construction of a staircase for the expected visit of König Georg II., which was cancelled.
1748 first mention with the name Einhorns-Loch.
1784 visit by Goethes .
1872 excavation by Virchow.
1902 bis 1910 visits and reports by Hermann Löns.
1905 construction of the entrance adit.
1908 start of development, supervised by the Harzclub-Zweigverein Scharzfeld.
1956 three year excavation campaign by Meischner.
1968 excavations by Schütt.
1985-1988 excavations by the Niedersächische Landesmuseum Hannover, Urgeschichtsabteilung, proved that Neanderthal man lived in the cave for long periods of time mor than 100,000 years ago.
01-JAN-2002 cave closed for the public.
01-APR-2003 cave reopened by the new administration.


the first chamber after the artificial entrance.

The Einhornhöhle (Unicorn Cave) is entered through an artificial tunnel at its end. The tour follows the main passage, which becomes bigger and bigger, until it reaches the Blaue Grotte (Blue Grotto), a huge chamber with collapsed roof. This is the natural entrance to the cave, it was used for thousands of years. From here the tour returns on the same trail. The guide explains the development of the cave, its history and the new archaeological and palaeontologic discoveries made a few years ago. The replicas of a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) and a cave lion (Pantera leo spelaea) explain the kind of animals which roamed the cave. The remains of Neanderthal man found in the cave are the reason for a Neanderthal diorama.

During the 20th century the Blue Grotto was the exit of the cave, the visitors left the cave here using a long iron staircase. The Schillerhalle to its left side was also part of the tour. The cupola has a very good acoustics, the guides demonstrated this with an Harzer Jodler. Yodeling has some tradition in the Harz, introduced by miners which moved to this area in the Middle Ages. But the stone stairs of this chamber are not straight enough for the law, due to the danger or stumbling visitors, the management was neither able to get a permission nor an insurance. Instead of replacing the historic stairs, they decided to change the tour.

In the Unicorn Cave numerous prehistoric remains were discovered. The natural entrance, a steep shaft, was a trap for numerous animals, which could not leave the cave after they once fell in. Stone Age man used the cave too, probably entering it the same way used until the 18th century. The visitors cut a tree at the rim and threw it into the cave. Then they climbed into the cave using the tree as a ladder.

the Blue Grotto, todays cave exit.

The name of the cave remembers a bone find in the cave. The famous mayor of Magdeburg, Otto von Guericke, tried to reconstruct the bones as a unicorn. Even Leibniz cited this discovery in his 1749 published Protagaea. The common people thought unicorn bones had magic healing powers, and so cave bear bones from the cave were processed into medicine for a very long time. Even stalactites were used for medicine, as their form resembled the horn of the unicorn. Today the cave has no speleothems left.

Otto von Guericke is famous for his experiment with the Magdeburger Halbkugeln (Magdeburg two hemispheres experiment). After inventing the air pump, he pumped the air out of two airtight hemispheres. The vacuum was so forceful, even hitched horses were not able to pull the hemispheres apart. During subsequent pressure experiments he invented the barometer.

The cave was closed in 2002, because the former tenant (Harzklub-Zweigverein e.V.) discontinued his work. On the 01-JUN-2002 the Förder- und Betreiberverein "Gesellschaft Unicornu fossile", a non-profit society for the protection of the cave was formed. The society created a workplace for a cave warden which is partly financed by the unemployment insurance. The cave was reopened in spring 2003.

Einhornhöhle Gallery