Schreibersches Haus (Hintereingang), Nicolaiberg 3, 07545 Gera.
A4 exit Gera, to city centre. Metered parking is available around the Salvatorkirche.
All year Tue-Sun, Hol 11, 13, 15.
Adults EUR 5, Children (6-18) EUR 3, Students EUR 3, Families (2+4) EUR 10.
Combo Mineralienhöhler: Adults EUR 7, Children (6-18) EUR 4, Students EUR 4.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||L=9.000 m, T=12 °C.|
|Guided tours:||L=250 m.|
Stadtmuseums Gera, Museumsplatz 1, 07545 Gera, Tel: +49-365-8381470.
Verein zur Erhaltung der Geraer Höhler e.V., Kornmarkt 7, 07545 Gera, Tel: +49-365-8321300, Fax: +49-365-8321300.
|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.
|16th and 18th century||originated as a beer cellar.|
|Second World War||used as an air-raid shelter.|
|1976-1978||Surveying the caves.|
|1986-1989||in the area of the east side of the Steinweg, ten caves were opened up as guide objects.|
|1993||Foundation of the Vereins zur Erhaltung der Geraer Höhler e.V. (Association for the Preservation of the Gera Caves).|
Below the historic city center of Gera lies a labyrinth of underground passages known as the Geraer Höhler. Their origin is closely linked to the development of brewing, they were created in the 17th and 18th century as beer cellars. The special feature here is that an additional storey was added to the existing cellars with their typical barrel vaulting and limestone lining. This level had natural stone walls and was only lined with bricks or limestone in areas of geological weakness. Access to the cave was via a Höhlertreppe (Höhler staircase) either through a cellar floor in the ground or from the front of the cellar room. Officially, the cellars were only allowed to be built directly under the cellar, but this was often ignored. The origin of the peculiar name Höhler is unknown, but the relationship to the word Höhle (cave) is obvious.
Up until the 16th century, there was a lot of wine growing in the area, in addition to beer brewing. The climate change and perhaps also the poor quality of the wine may well have been the reasons why viticulture was finally discontinued altogether. The change in drinking habits and the growth of the town caused by the economic development after the Thirty Years' War resulted in an enormous upswing in beer production. For some time 1.4 Million liters were brewed per year, about 75 % of the caves were dug within 50 years. Since the brewing right also included the right to serve beer, there were considerable financial advantages to be gained from exercising it.
The right to brew was already tied to the citizens' house ownership in the oldest written town charter from 1487. It was therefore essentially limited to the properties within the city walls. As the normal cellars of the houses in the old town, which were often only 3-4 m wide, were no longer sufficient to meet the increased demands and were not cool enough in summer, deeper cellars - the caves - were built under the houses with brewing rights. You can still see today that the cellars were built professionally by miners. The construction of the Höhler took place at about the same time as the decline in mining activity in the Gera area, which provided the unemployed miners with a new field of activity. Originally they were only accessible from the owner's house. The economic importance of the caves can be seen from the fact that when the town was rebuilt after the fire of 1780, the old street alignments were essentially retained because the filling in and paving over of caves would have violated the interests of citizens with brewing rights.
Surveys revealed a total length of almost nine kilometres for the approximately 250 cellars that have been found so far. Some of them are located in two levels below each other, between three and eleven metres deep. Typical corridors are 1.80 m high and 1.30 m wide, a good 30 m long and had a temperature of 8 to 12 °C, depending on the depth.
The city of Gera lies in the Elster valley on Late Pleistocene and Holocene fluvial sediments. The caves in the area of the market are located in these Quaternary unconsolidated sediments. The caves in the area of Greizer Straße are located in the dolomite of the middle Zechstein. Due to the location in the limestone of the Zechstein, dripstones form, as in natural caves. In some caves there were wells that served as water supplies.
Of course, the depth of the cellars also had disadvantages; you had to transport the beer down and back up again. Beer barrels were transported into the cellars using ladder-like wooden frames. Very large barrels remained in the cellar and were filled with bucket-like lifting shovels. The caves were also used for storing field and garden crops.
The Historischen Geraer Höhler (Historic Gera Höhler) are a branch of the Stadtmuseums Gera (Gera City Museum) and guided tours take place regularly. Outside opening hours or without a guided tour, it is possible to visit the Mineralienhöhler in the Museum für Naturkunde Museum of Natural History.