South of Altdorf, near Lenzenberg.
From Altdorf on Mühlweg to Prethalmühle, from the hairpin bend 100m on foot.
|Classification:||Rock Mines Cellars|
|Dimension:||L=20, W=20m, Ar=400m²|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Bibliography:||Hundertjähriges Gedächtniß des Lustorts bey Altdorf, die Löwengrube genannt, In: Journal von und für Deutschland. 1786, Sechstes Stück, S. 529–530 google books|
|Address:||Kultur und Tourismus, Kultur-Rathaus, Oberer Markt 2, 90518 Altdorf b. Nürnberg, Tel: +49-9187-807-1244. 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.
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The Löwengrube (Lion Pit) is a former quarry where Rhaetolias sandstone was quarried as building stone. The fine-grained yellowish sandstone was easy to work and also sought after as scouring sand. Since the 14th century, stones were quarried for the city walls of Altdorf. From 1571 to 1575, the sandstone for Altdorf's university building, today's Wichernhaus, was quarried here. Underground quarrying created large cellar-like vaults, also known as Felsenkeller (rock cellars). The quarry was abandoned soon afterwards and became overgrown.
About 100 years later, on 11-MAR-1686, the quarry was rediscovered by the court master Johann Christian Christ. Christ, the patrician sons Haller and Löffelholz, Baron Friedrich Gottlieb von Löwenstern and the table company of Professor Daniel Moller, the rector of the University of Altdorf, prepared the cellar for merry festivities. Löwengrube is actually a variation of the original name Löwengruft, which the cellar received in honour of Baron Friedrich Gottlieb von Löwenstern. They not only cleared the wilderness, they also laid paths, and carved seating groups into the rock and "seat and position for trumpeters and timpanists" in an elevated position. They made a portal out of the entrance to the cellar, and carved the saying "Whoever is not consecrated to our life shall never enter the cave" into the rock above it. Already at Easter of the same year, the area was inaugurated by the students of Altdorf. In the following decades, the "Lustort" was used for many wet and merry parties, but these mainly took place outdoors on the forecourt and not in the cellar. It is also said that forbidden student duels took place here. However, this all ended in 1809 with the closure of the university.
After the university closed, citizens of Altdorf took over the quarry and built a beer cellar and a bowling alley. The bowling alley is an elongated underground hall that has several openings on one side and is therefore called a gallery. The beer cellar was used by a group of brewing citizens to store beer. For this purpose, a kind of entrance building, the Auer'sche Bierkeller, was built in front of the cellar. Presumably there was also a beergarden, common for Franconia, which is called a Keller (cellar) here because the beer is sold directly from the cellar entrance. The building is therefore also called Schankhaus (beer bar) or Hexenhäusle (Witches' Cottage). Around 1880, water caused extensive damage to the site, presumably due to flooding of the nearby tributary to the Schwarzach. The restoration of the Löwengrube under the seminary teacher Johann Böhm was completed in time for the celebration of its 200th anniversary in 1886.
The quarry is no longer used for parties or as a cellar today. However, it is freely accessible, of course at your own risk. A special feature is the very beautifully exposed sandstone of the Rhaetian-Lias transitional strata with incarbonated woods, which is why the site has also been designated as a geotope by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment. It is located on the Wallenstein hiking trail that starts in Altdorf and can be reached via the white 3 on green trail from Altdorf or Prethalmühle. We recommend sturdy shoes, a helmet and sufficient light, preferably a helmet lamp. The boxwork building of the Auer'sche Bierkeller is now sometimes used for art exhibitions.