Großes Schulerloch

Big Schuler Cave

Useful Information

the view from the entrance of the Schulerloch into the Altmühl valley.
the building above the entrance to the Schulerloch.
Location: Oberau 2, 93343 Essing.
A9 exit Denkendorf or A93 exit Hausen, at the Deutsche Ferienstraße Alpen-Ostsee (German Holiday route), in Oberau between Kehlheim and Essing in the Altmühl valley. 4 km from Kehlheim, 22 km SW Regensburg. From the parking lot 15-20 min walk, about 50 m uphill.
(48.928010, 11.820584)
Open: APR Tue-Sun 10-16.
MAY to mid-SEP Tue-Sun 10-16:30.
Mid-SEP to Fall School Holidays Tue-Sun 10-16.
Mondays are open during Bavarian School Holidays
Tours every 30 min, last tour at closing time.
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (4-15) EUR 4.50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 7, Children (4-15) EUR 4.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave horizontal cave, Malm (Korallenkalk)
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightSon et Lumière
Dimension: L=420 m, BR: AR=793 m², T=9 °C.
Guided tours: D=30 min.
Photography: Not allowed
Accessibility: Partly: the cave is horizontal and has no steps, but the only way to the cave is a walking trail and there is a staircase to the cave entrance.
Bibliography: Anonymous (oJ): Tropfsteinhöhle Schulerloch im Altmühltal.
H. Gruber, E. Gruber (1984): Das Große Schulerloch - Die Tropfsteinhöhle im Altmühltal. Verlag M. Gstöttner, Regensburg 1984
Address: Tropfsteinhöhle Schulerloch, Oberau 2, 93343 Essing, Tel: +49-9441-1796778, 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.


1782 discovered by the monk Edmund Schmid from Weltenburg Abbey.
1793 discovered by Adrian von Riedl and named Riedlshöhle.
1825 bought by Regierungsrat Anton von Schmauß.
1826-1928 developed and opened to the public by Anton von Schmauß, building above the cave entrance erected.
1828 torches used as light source.
1912 carbide lamps used.
1915 archaeological excavations by Prof. Birkner.
1953 electric light.


SpeleothemMoonmilk The moonmilk is whitish or greyish. In damp places, droplets of condensed water glisten in the lamp light. The yellowish discolouration in the picture is the result of the cave lighting and does not correspond to the original colour of the moonmilk.
a tour in the entrance of the cave. Walls covered with moonmilk
a nearby shelter, which is called abri in German, after the French word for shelter.

The Schulerloch is of palaeontological interest, it was a shelter for Neanderthal man during the Middle Paleolithic. The humans used only the front part of the cave, but in the rear part the remains of numerous animals of the Würm Ice Age. In early Bronze Age, the cave was inhabited by humans again. But then the entrance was walled up, the reason is unknown. The cave fell into oblivion and was only officially rediscovered in 1782 by the monk Edmund Schmid from the Weltenburg monastery. He wrote an account of the discovery, which is mentioned by other authors, but has unfortunately since been lost. However, some reports from the following years have been preserved. About a decade later, the cave was visited by Colonel Adrian von Riedl and christened Riedlshöhle. Obviously he was not overly modest. He described the access as narrow and difficult. But the pictures he depicted in 1806, a decade later, in his Strom-Atlas von Bayern are completely unrealistic, they show much larger rooms than actually exist. At least they show one detail that is probably realistic: the cave was entered via a ladder. Government councillor Anton von Schmauß bought the cave in 1825 and developed it into its present form as a show cave. Anton von Schmauß, was freemason, he placed the inscriptions above the entrance, and a statue of Goddess Isis, the Goddess of Nature. He also built a pavilion above the entrance, suitable for living, and a second one nearby, which hosts a museum today. This small museum shows some exhibits about the cave, the Altmühl valley and the Rhein-Main-Donau-Kanal (Rhine-Danube-Canal). The cave was subsequently operated as a show cave, and torches were used for lighting. It was not until 1912 that the lighting was switched to carbide lamps, which drastically reduced the amount of soot produced.

The development obviously destroyed archaeologically relevant layers in the entrance area, although no details have survived. Cave sediments in the front part of the cave were removed and thus destroyed in order to level out depressions in the cave floor. Two lay archaeology enthusiasts, the dentist Dr Schupp from Munich and the Kelheim judicial inspector Alexander Oberneder, discovered artefacts on the cave floor and informed the Prähistorische Staatssammlung München (Prehistoric State Collection Munich). Schupp was declared persona non grata, banned from excavating and officially hushed up. The layers of artefacts that remained intact were investigated by Oberneder in 1908-1912 in several small excavations. He discovered Bronze Age artefacts and Palaeolithic flint tools. He published his findings in the Altmühl-Bote and the Nordbayerischer Wanderer in a more popular scientific style. In 1915, Ferdinand Birkner from the Anthropologisch-Prähistorischen Staatssammlung (Anthropological-Prehistorical State Collection) finally excavated the site. Birkner published his finds in various articles in scientific journals and a monograph. The finds are mainly kept in the Archäologischen Staatssammlung München (Archaeological State Collection Munich) and have probably been partially forgotten over the years. 700 pieces which were considered particularly significant were recorded in the depot's inventory. In 1982, a box containing over 900 additional flint artefacts from the Großer Schulerloch was discovered. In the following years, the collection was therefore re-evaluated by several people. In 2006, they were analysed in detail by Marcus Beck in his dissertation. The dissertation can be downloaded free of charge from the FAU website.

The Schulerloch is called Tropfsteinhöhle (dripstone cave) in German. But this name is not very exact, as the speleothems in this cave are composed of moonmilk. Moonmilk is a white, opaque speleothem consisting mainly of calcite, but it may also contain hydrocalcite, hydromagnesite or huntite. It covers big areas on walls and ceiling. But regular dripstone, stalagmites and stalagtites composed of calcite crystals, are very rare in this cave. Exceptions are two beautiful rimstone pools at the end of the cave. But this lack of common speleothems gives the cave a special character. The cave is formed in coral reef limestones of the Jurassic. This limestone has no layers and so the chambers are of irregular shape. The complex structure of the arched ceiling gives the cave a special acoustics. An extraordinary Didgeridoo concert during my last cave tour was a really impressive experience.

The cave is said to be 1.5 Million years old. At this time, the Altmühl-Donau was 55 m higher than today and was the drainage of the cave. The Altmühl-Danube was a combination of today's rivers, as the danube used this part of the Altmühl valley at this time. The cave was formed during a period of stagnancy in the cutting in of the river. The river restarted to cut in, then the Danube changed its bed, and the Altmühl continued to cut until 200,000 BP. The Danube formed the famous canyon of Weltenburg, which is nearby. The connection between Danube and Altmühl is today called Dry Valley of Wellheim.

The Schulerloch is often called Großes Schulerloch (Big Schulerloch), because there is also a small Schulerloch, the Kleines Schulerloch. This small cave is not open to the public, and contains an engraving showing a hind or an ibex. It was discovered in 1937 by the two local historians A. Oberneder and O. Rieger. The engraving has a certain similarity to paleolithic engravings in French and Spanish caves. Prof. Birkner, Dr. Wagner and Prof. Obermaier called it the first ice age engraving in Germany. But Prof. Zotz from Erlangen was much more sceptic, and because of the minimal weathering he thought it was a fake. The actual state of scientific research dates the engraving to the late Magdalenian, 10,000 BC. But this is not proofed by geophysical methods, it's just based on an analysis of stile and technique. A proof of its age is at the moment not possible.

Below the engraving several runes from the 6th to 8th century can be found. Their closeness to the stone age engraving made their interpretation even more difficult. The runes form three words: BIRG LEUB SELBRADE. Birg is a female first name, the ancestor of Birgit or Brigitte. Selbrade is a male first name. Leub means love, vow, dedicate. The interpretation is rather easy... A replica of the engraving is on display in the small museum near the cave entrance, mentioned above.