Osterhöhle

Easter Cave


Useful Information

Location: Flurnummer 56, 92259 Trondorf-Neukirchen.
A9 exit 49 Lauf/Hersbruck, B14 towards Hersbruck 28 km, left through Trondorf.
A6 exit 64 Sulzbach-Rosenberg B299 towards Sulzbach-Rosenberg 3,9 km, left 3,1 km, roundabout right 500 m, left 3,7 km, right on B14 800 m, left through Trondorf.
After Trondorf right and immediately left through the train underpass to the hikers' car park at Osterhöhle. 5 min/200 m walk.
(49.518766, 11.663624)
Open: Cave: Good Friday to OCT, Sat, Sun, Hol 12-17.
Waldschänke: Good Friday to OCT, Sat 11-21, Sun, Hol 11-19.
[2023]
Fee: Adults EUR 4,50, Children EUR 3,50.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave Malm (Dolomite)
Light: electric torches provided
Dimension: L=185 m, T=9 °C, A=660 m asl.
Guided tours: L=130 m, VR=30 m, D=30 min, Max=10, MinAge=5.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Renate Illmann (2021): Osterhöhlen-Kaleidoskop Bilder aus der "Schneider-Ära", Der Fränkische Höhlenspiegel 64-2021, S. 120f. Deutsch - German
Peter R. Hofmann (2019): Unterirdisches Bayern II, BOD-Verlag, Norderstedt, 2019, ISBN 978-3-7494-0796-5. Deutsch - German
Günter Schneider (1988): Allgemeine Beschreibung zur Lage, Geschichte und Geologie der Osterhöhle, Tagungsband, 33. Tagung des Verbandes der deutschen Höhlen- und Karstforscher, Neukirchen 1988. Deutsch - German
M. J. Schleiß von Löwenfeld (1789): Beyträge zur Urgeschichte Sulsbachs aus den entferntesten Zeiten bis auf die Erscheinung Ernsts des ersten Grafen und Herrn zu Sulsbach Sulzbach 1789. Deutsch - German
Bettina Stoll-Tucker (1997): Nacheiszeitliche Höhlennutzung am Beispiel des oberen Pegnitztales (Nördliche Frankenalb), Faustus, Büchenbach 1997, 260 S, 52–53, ISBN-13: 978-3-9803996-6-1, ISBN: 3-9803996-6-4.
Address: Waldschänke Osterhöhle, Flurnummer 56, 92259 Trondorf-Neukirchen.
Stephan Oeh-Sedlacek, Wiesenstraße 4, 92259 Neukirchen, Tel: +49-9663-2009747, Mobil: +49-177-3411419. E-mail:
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

800 B.C. people of the Hallstadt culture visited the cave, remains were found near the entrance.
1630 first written mention.
1783 named in the book Die Beherrscher von Sulzbach by Leinberger.
1789 named in the Beiträgen zur Urgeschichte Sulzbachs by the princely medicus and historiographer Schleiß von Löwenfeld.
1905 artificial entrance constructed, natural entrance (pothole) closed by an iron gate, Waldschänke (restaurant) built.
17-MAY-1931 cave survey by R. G. Spöcker.
1935 construction of the Waldschänke restaurant as it is today.

Description

Entrance portal with Biergarten.

When you approach through the forest to the rocks and cliff faces, the first thing you will mention is the romantic Waldschänke. A small blockhouse, built below the cliff with the cave entrance, surrounded by a huge beer garden. The cave entrance is a staircase going down an artificial tunnel, covered by a 9 m wide and 12 m high rock shelter. There is also a natural entrance, a narrow shaft above today's entrance. It was grilled after the artificial entrance tunnel was built and is now used only by bats.

Descending the stairs, you reach the Dom (Dome), the largest chamber in the cave. It has quite an impressive size, 24 m long, 18 m wide, and up to 12 m high. From here, turn left to visit the Wasserhalle (water hall), named after the water basins. There are several small ones and two larger ones, the largest of which is 7 m long and 3 m wide. To the right, you reach the Kirche (Church), which has more speleothems. The cave is, quite typical for the dolomite caves of the Franconian Jura, an alternation of larger rooms and very narrow connections.

This cave is pretty dark, which is mainly a result of the dark black walls. The fact that this cave is visited with handheld lamps, will not make this a well lit tour. But that's exactly what makes this cave so special: it is one of the last show caves in Germany without electric light. Until a few years ago it was still visited with carbide lamps. This beautiful tradition was actually something special, but is associated with effort for the operator. Moreover, the use of carbide lamps is now rightly frowned upon because it produces grime. The fact that you now get helmets for the tour, which is very unusual in German show caves, is probably intended to make the tour more exciting again.

The first assumption about the black cover of the walls and speleothems is grime. And really, caves were visited over centuries with light sources like torches, carbide lamps, oil lamps, or candles. But a chemical analysis revealed that it consists mostly of natural manganese. Manganese is very common in this limestone, although its amount is quite low, but it is dissolved and relocated by the groundwater and then forms thin covers on the rocks. Even layers of a fraction of a millimetre are already completely dark black. There are often single rocks found, which look black, but are completely white inside. But it is rather rare that complete caves are covered by manganese. However, this caves was almost black even before the first human visitor entered it. In addition, this cave was certainly very rarely visited because of the difficult entrance shaft, so soot could only have formed after the development as a show cave. In many places, however, very white flowstone has grown on the black coating. The result is extraordinary, a "black and white cave", as Peter Hoffmann termed it so aptly.

The name Osterhöhle (Easter Cave) seems to have been used for centuries. The word Easter comes from the Germanic spring goddess of rising light Ostara, a pagan name for a Christian festival. As early as 1783, M. J. Schleiß von Löwenfeld reports in Beyträge zur Urgeschichte Sulsbachs aus den entferntesten Zeiten bis auf die Erscheinung Ernsts des ersten Grafen und Herrn zu Sulsbach (Contributions to the Prehistory of Sulsbach from the Most Distant Times to the Appearance of Ernst the First Count and Lord of Sulsbach) that the youth of Sulzbach walked to the cave on Easter holidays to have a celebration there. However, it is believed that the cave was probably named after its location, it is located at the foot of the Osterberg, one of the many wooded hills on the Franconian Alb plateau. Above the cave entrance there is a stucco relief with the head of Ostara, obviously placed when the entrance was built in 1905. Who did it and why is not known, but a connection with the development is very likely. Presumably the owner at the time had a romantic impulse.

Vessel shards from the Hallstatt and Latène periods were found in the cave, also remains from the Middle Ages. Whether people descended the entrance shaft as early as the Bronze Age is unclear, but it is known from that time that pottery was thrown into sacrificial caves. There was no archaeological investigation of the cave, but the neighbouring Lupberg Cave was investigated. It was a so-called sacrificial cave, probably also a burial cave, after the collapse of its entrance, the Osterhöhle became probably its successor. But most of the finds were most likely destroyed when the cave was developed as a show cave, and the few shards are out of context.