Laichinger Tiefenhöhle Cave
The Laichinger Tiefenhöhle cave is the only pit cave in Germany that has been developed to allow access to the public.
At 80 m deep and 1,253 metres long, it is one of the most significant karst objects in the Swabian Alb. Descending via numerous metal stairways, visitors can admire huge shafts and large halls. The path extends 330 metres down to a depth of 55 metres and takes about 40 minutes.
Walking through the cave, visitors can see the geological make-up of the white Jura limestone which here takes the form of a compact and solid coral rag. Large numbers of reef sponges can be seen on the walls of the cave. Down to a depth of 28 m the coral rag subsequently changed into dolomite so the rocks have a holey, porous structure.
The orientation of the tunnels and shafts helps to link the age and the formation of the caves with the geological history of the surrounding landscape of the Alb: the Laichinger caves are referred to as a "geological X-ray of the Swabian Alb" because they illustrate the geological structure of the Central Alb mountains and allow the five-million-year process that created the karst to be traced. Discovered in autumn 1982 by Johann Georg Mack as he prospected for dolomite sand, the cave is in the care of members of the Laichingen Höhlen– und Heimatverein caving association. The association runs a cafe through which the cave is accessed and which is also the location of the Speleological Museum (Höhlenkundliches Museum). The cave and museum together form an information centre on karst landscapes and caves that is unique in the Swabian Alb and far beyond. They are an important contribution towards providing an insight into the caves characteristic of the Swabian Alb and since 2006 both facilities have represented the gateway to the Swabian Alb GeoPark.
Speleological Museum in the Tiefenhöhle Café
The cafe attached to the cave also contains a museum of speleology (the study of karst and caves) and associated disciplines. The display focuses on the "cave" as a phenomenon and the relationship between humans and caves. It also addresses the conditions which gave rise to the karst caves, describes the geological evolution of a cave system and explains the position of caves as a key element in the karst landscape. At the heart of the museum are the actual contents of the cave (sediments, sinter and minerals) and their function as geological time markers and as a paleoclimatic archive. The final third of the museum explains the fossilised and extant living organisms found in caves and considers the cave as an ecosystem, the protection of caves and the technology of cave research. This includes methods of moving around in caves and how to measure and map them. The museum will be of interest to hikers, holidaymakers and anyone who wants to know more about the karst landscape of the Swabian Alb. It is also helpful for teachers, schoolchildren and students studying biology or geography or who encounter the subject of caves and karst in the course of projects or field days.
The Karst Trail
An 11.5 km discovery trail starts at the Laichingen Tiefenhöhle cave. It was created so that visitors to the caves and the museum could walk on the Alb plateau and explore the karst formations for themselves. The trail leads through the hilly landscape typical of the central Swabian Alb with its dry valleys, landslides and ponds, it passes two notable features: Vogts Grub (Vogt's Hole) – 50 metres in diameter and 10 metres deep, this is one of the largest sinkholes in the Swabian Alb – and the Hohle Stein ("Hollow Rock"), a cave consisting of a single cavern with a floor area of 260 m2.
Opening hours for the Laichinger Tiefenhöhle Cave and the Speleological Museum
From Easter week to the beginning of November (end of the autumn holiday in Baden Württemberg) daily from 9 am to 6 pm. The Karst Trail can be walked at any time.
Höhlen- und Heimatverein Laichingen
Tel.: 07333 5586