St. Beatushöhlen

St. Beatus-Höhlen


Useful Information

Location: At the Thunersee (Thun Lake) near Interlaken. On the eastern bank of Lake Thun, next to the holiday resort of Interlaken.
Open: Weekend before Easter to 3rd Sun in Oct daily 10:30-17, guided tours every 30min.
2004: 04-APR to 24-OCT.
Cave Museum: Tue-Sun 11:30-17:30n.
Fee: Adult CHF 17, Students CHF 15, Children (6 - 16) CHF 9.
Groups (10-50): Adults CHF 15, Students CHF 13, school children (6-16) CHF 7.
Groups (50+): Adults CHF 14.
[2004]
Classification:  Karst cave, .
Light: electric
Dimension: L=11,938m, VR=353m, T=10°C.
Guided tours: Length=1,000m, D=50min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: (1994): St. Beatushöhlen, [Tourenberichte] In: Jber. Schweiz. Ges. Höhlenforschung, Sekt. Bern, Jg.43, 1994, S. 42-54. N1622
Wilhelm Bauberger (1928): Die Beatushöhle, Verlagsanstalt Manz, Regensburg, 198 Seiten.
Daniel Agricola (1511): Das Leben des heiligen Bychtigers und Einsidlers Sant Batten,
Address: Beatushöhlen-Genossenschaft, CH-3800 Sundlauenen, Tel: +41-33-8411643, Fax +41-33-8411064, 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.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:52:40 $

History

 
1511St. Beatus mentioned in a book by the Franciscan Daniel Agricola.
1231cave first mentioned in connection with the pilgrimages.
750-450 BCfirst visitors during the oldest Iron Age.
1439during the bubonic plague the town council of Bern organized a pilgrimage to the cave.
1528the visits to the cave were forbidden by the town council of Bern, the cave was closed and the chapel destroyed.
1776Caspar Wolf paints the picture "Eingang zur westlichen Beatushöhle mit dem Efeubaum" (now on exibition in the art museum at Aargau).
18th centuryvisited by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Wagner and Lord Byron.
1814first exploration of the cave by the painter Hans Stähli. He needed 3.5 hours to explore 665 Schuh (a Medieval measure) until he reached a siphon.
1848the captain of a steam boat, Johann Knechtenhofer, makes another try. He crosses the siphon and reaches the Kapitänsgrotte (Captain's grotto).
1903-1904intensive exploration organized by Hermann Hartmann, the director of the tourist association. The cave was developed as a show cave.
1945after WWII Franz Knuchel and friend explored the cave.
1970sagain intensive exploration with new techniques.

Description

The St. Beatus cave has beautiful dripstone formations, but its most interesting aspect is its history. The cave was used by man since Stone Age. Its name is derived from St. Beat or (in Latin) St. Beatus, one of Switzerlands holy men. Legend tells, that he was born about 20 AD in England or Ireland. He was christianized by Barnabas and then made a pilgrimage to Rome. From there he was sent as a missionary to Helvetia, to christianize this country. When he arrived at this cave, which was home to a dragon, he killed the dragon and then lived in the cave for some years, until he died.

Augustinian monks erected a chapel in the cave, and the cult around Beatus reached a high during the Middle Ages. It was fed by the legend of Beatus, written by the Franciscan Daniel Agricola and published in 1511. However, this book was written nearly 1500 years after the story had happened, and Agricola used the story of a Carolingian eremite to complete it. He also tells Beatus died in 112, so he was more than 90 years old when he died. But the most important fact with this book was, that it contained impressive illustrations of the story, made by the graphic artist Urs Graf from Solothurn. So it was an early bestseller, printed and sold thousands of times.

However, this "mainstream" story is not the only version of the legend told. There are virtually hundreds of them. One legend tells about two foreigners, Beatus and Justus, who came across the Schwarzer Berg (black mountain) into the land between the lake (inter-laken). When they visited the herdsmen at Sundlauenen, they heard about a gruesome dragon, who lived in a nearby cave and terrorized the whole area. The holy men were not afraid and they asked to be taken to this place by boat. They reached the cave, but only Beatus was brave enough to enter the cave. The monster came, with burning eyes throwing fire on the intruder. But Beatus was firm and raised his cross against the dragon and conjured him in the name of the holy trinity. In his anger the dragon run down the rock cliff into the Thun lake and the water started to boil.

The dragon is today the logo of the show cave, in a very colourfull way. Beneath the graphical dragon, there is also a sculpture of the dragon in the childrens playground in front of the cave. All those "improvements" of the natural cave and the rather high fees are a result of an extreme focus on tourism in this cave. It is located at the east bank of Lake Thun, near the holiday town Interlaken. During season it may be rather crowded. You should take account of this when visiting the cave.

The cave entrance is located at the foot of a steep limestone cliff. The entrance building is made of local rocks and fits well in this location. At the entrance the cave river springs, and flows down to Lake Thun in numerous cascades. The cave itself is a river cave, which has numerous ponds, lakes and waterfalls.

St. Beatus cave is the 9th longest cave of Switzerland at the moment. But much more important is the karstification of the whole area, with numerous big cave systems. The biggest one is the Sieben Hengste-Hohgant-Höhle, 149km long and 1,340m deep, which makes place two of the longest caves of Switzerland and place eight world wide. It is the deepest cave of Switzerland and the 18th deepest world wide. All those caves, located inside two mountain ranges which are divided by the Emmental valley, drain to the south into Lake Thun. But the St. Beatus cave is not part of this system, it is a younger and higher level of the kartification. The older drainage system ends under the lake in several underwater springs. Sometimes, when heavy rains in the north result in enormous amounts of water, the lake starts to boil by the enormous amounts of water upwelling inside the lake under high pressure. Probably an explanation of the dragon legend.

The cave museum contains information about the geological situation, cave surveying and cave diving. Also the history of the cave is explained, including dioramas of the prehistoric inhabitants as well as St. Beatus. Another topic of the museum are local lores and legends. Special exhibitions take place here, for example about dragons.


See also


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