Laichinger Tiefenhöhle

Laichingen Vertical Cave


Useful Information


photography
The dolomite up to a depth of 25 metres has a pitted surface. Kanzel, Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
photography
Descent from the Sandhalle (Sand Hall) into the Große Halle (Large Hall), Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
photography
The Große Halle (Big Hall), the biggest chamber of the cave in a depth of 45 m, Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
Location: Höhleweg 220, 89150 Laichingen.
A8 exit Merklingen, pass Merklingen and Machtolsheim, 7 km to Laichingen. Use second exit to Laichingen, turn right at the city limits.
A8 exit Behelfsausfahrt, to Hohenstadt then to Laichingen, 7 km. From city center follow signs to the cave or toward Suppingen, turn left at the city limits.
1 km SE Laichingen.
(48.478540, 9.693488)
Open: Palm Sunday until the end of the autumn school holidays daily 10-18.
[2024]
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-16) EUR 3.50, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 4.50, Children EUR 3.
[2024]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave vertical cave, Malm (Jura)
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=1,384 m, VR=90 m, 780 m asl.
Guided tours: L=330 m, D=60 min, VR=55 m, V=30,000/a [2005],
Photography: Allowed
Accessibility: No, many steps. Not suitable for people with heart conditions, bronchial illness or babes in arms.
Bibliography: (1989): Führer durch die Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Hrsg: Höhlen- und Heimatverein Laichingen e.V., 1989, EUR 2.50.
Address: Höhlen- und Heimatverein Laichingen e.V., Höhleweg 220, 89146 Laichingen, Tel: +49-7333-5586. 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.

History

1892 discovered by Johann Georg Mack, while he was digging for dolomitic sand.
1894 first survey by architect Kienzle, Ulm.
1903 first artificial entrance built.
1906 discovery of the deepest place of the cave, 80 m below surface.
1930 concrete paths and iron ladders.
1933 2nd artificial entrance.
1936 electric light.
1947 foundation of the caving club called Höhle- and Heimatvereins Laichingen e.V..
1961 cave museum opened.
1970-1975 construction of a shaft, 15 m deep, as exit. Allows one way tours.
1980-1982 installation of an emergency power plant.
1999-2000 new entrance building with restaurant.
09-JUN-2002 inauguration of the new cave museum.

Description

The Große Halle (Big Hall), the biggest chamber of the cave in a depth of 45 m, Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
The Kleine Halle (Small Chamber) 55 m below surface, is the deepest room visited on a tour, Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
The Gletschermühlenschacht (Dolly Tub Shaft) has round forms resembling a dolly tub, Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
Perlsinter (Bulbuous Calcite), Blumenkohlgang, Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
The Nasser Schacht (Wet Shaft), Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.
Höhlenkundliches Museum (Speleological Museum), Laichinger Tiefenhöhle, Germany.

The Laichinger Tiefenhöhle (Laichingen Vertical Cave) is the deepest show cave of Germany and the only vertical cave that can be visited by the public. This cave has very few formations, but offers an interesting insight into the structure of the Swabian Jura. For this reason, it used to be advertised as the "geological X-ray image of the Swabian Alb".

The entrance of the cave, located on the plateau of the Schwäbische Alb (Swabian Jura), lies in a rather small area of dolomite CaMg(CO3)2. This rock is - in a certain way - responsible for the discovery of the cave. The residual of weathered dolomite, dolomite sand or dolomite "ash" was mined here as sweeping and scouring sand. The sand was used together with soap to clean the wooden floors and also for mortar. Sand deposits are rare on the Alb because there are no river sediments due to underground drainage and the residual of limestone is typically clay. However, dolomite is relatively rare on the Swabian Alb and therefore the sand had a certain value. The day labourer Johann Georg Mack from Laichingen mined the sand on days when he could find no other work. One morning, the sand digger's pile of sand had disappeared. Believing it to be stolen, he spent the following night guarding his sand. He realized that the sand was slowly but steadily disappearing underground. He dug at this spot and found the entrance to the cave.

Another special feature of dolomite is the holey surface that forms during weathering. This is clearly visible on the descent to the Sandhalle. After crossing the dolomite on the way down, you reach mass limestone. The transition is very easy to recognize because the Massenkalk (reef limestone) has a smooth surface. Reef limestone has no stratification as it was not deposited as sediment but formed as a coral reef. This reef can be seen from several angles during the visit.

After a period of reef growth, the conditions in the Jurassic Sea changed considerably for some time. As a result, clayey, marly material was deposited, the Glaukonitbank (glauconite bank), named after the mineral glauconite in the clay. This layer can be recognized very clearly in the Great Hall. It runs around the entire room as a joint a few centimetres thick and filled with grey clay. The room below, the Small Hall, is almost completely free of dripping water thanks to this waterproof layer. This also prevented stalactites from forming. It was deposited on the seabed and covered it like a blanket. By tracing this bank, the relief of the seabed can be recognized very impressively. This bench can be traced throughout the Swabian Alb, but is only exposed at the edges, in valleys, caves and quarries.

A special feature of the Laichingen Deep Cave is the Blumenkohlgang (cauliflower passage) with an abundance of Perlsinter (Bulbous Calcite). The origin of this name is easy to understand when you see this speleothem for the first time. However, the way how it was formed is still unknown. The only thing that is certain is that it is a calcareous flowstone. But it has not yet been possible to find out how this unusual shape came about. Various approaches, such as capillaries, have since been discarded. According to one theory, it mainly forms at narrow points through which the wind often blows. However, it is not clear how this works, nor has it been scientifically proven.

There is the Höhlenkundliches Museum (speleological museum) in the entrance building. A 2.5 metre high, true-to-scale cross-section of the Swabian Alb made of original rock is on display here. One display case shows archaeological and palaeontological finds from Swabian caves, another the diverse cave fauna and flora. A cave bear skeleton, information on the book Rulaman and cave minerals are also on display. There is a film and explanations on all aspects of cave exploration. Another special feature are the three-dimensional cave plans created with a computer. Given the complex structure of the cave, such plans are very helpful, and they were created back in the 1980s using the VISIPLOT system at the TU Braunschweig computer centre. Nowadays, all software for surveying caves can also produce 3D visualisations, but back then this was completely new territory. A visit to the museum is free of charge and a good way for people who are not taking part in the guided tour to pass the time until the rest of the group is back.

As already mentioned, this is a shaft cave and the tour route leads down a number of steep iron stairs to a depth of 55 metres below the surface and back to the surface via another route and an artificial shaft. As the iron stairs are very steep and covered with clayey dripping water, trousers quickly get dirty. In addition to sure-footedness and a minimum level of physical fitness, suitable shoes and clothing are strongly recommended. Anyone with cardiovascular, lung or heart disease or a walking disability should refrain from visiting, as should anyone with a fear of heights. There is a little trick for the steep stairs: if you climb down backwards, like on a ladder, you will have much less difficulty. With smaller children, experience has shown that it depends on the child: some children get scared, others are thrilled. The Laichinger Tiefenhöhle is run by the Höhlen- und Heimatverein Laichingen e.V. (HHVL), the largest caving club on the Swabian Jura. Due to the loss of members in the last years, guided tours are now only offered in exceptional cases. Five pillars have been installed in the cave, which play the tour text at the touch of a button, a kind of stationary audio guide. There are four versions to choose from: German, English, French and a special children's tour. In other words, there are no waiting times, and you can go straight into the cave after paying. Visitors can take as much time as they like, with most taking around 45 to 60 minutes.

Due to the particular physical demands of this show cave, it is quite common for members of a family or group not to want to or be able to take part in the tour. There are various ways to bridge the time. First there is a visit to the cave museum, which is free. You can have a beer or a coffee in the restaurant and beer garden. Food is also on offer, but only sausages and Landjäger, although you are allowed to bring your own food into the beer garden as well as the restaurant as long as you buy the drinks. This arrangement, familiar from Bavarian beer gardens, is very popular with hikers. There is a well-maintained playground for children, and a barbecue hut and a fire pit allow you to barbecue meat or sausages you have brought with you.