Historic Show Caves

Show Cave History


Image: A visit to Mammoth Cave, USA.

Caves are known to man for ten thousands of years. The history of the first cave visits is written on the walls of prehistoric painted caves. But later in history people became angry and fearful about caves. They were thought to be the entrance to hades, the hell, the home of trolls or other fabulous fairy tale creatures. In this times many caves were dubbed Devils Hole, Unicorn Cave or something similar. And mostly people were too afraid to visit them.

But there are some extraordinary exceptions, which we tried to collect. This is a list of early developments in cave tourism, what later became show caves or commercial caves. It is far from being complete, but we hope we added the most important milestones.


Date Cave Location Explanation
1213 ShowcavePostojnska Jame Slovenia The world's oldest show cave with the first known of visit.
1452 ShowcaveJasovská Jaskyna Slovak Republic The oldest inscription in a cave. Visits maybe even earlier.
20-MAY-1516 ShowcaveSontheimer Höhle Germany Germany's oldest show cave, with the first official guided tour during a visit of Herzog Ulrich von Württemberg.
APR-1668 ShowcaveBaumannshöhle Germany Hans Jürgen Becker becomes the first authorized cave guide of the world.
1806 ShowcaveGrand Caverns U.S.A. The first show cave in the U.S.A., was known under the name Weyer's Cave when it was opened to the public.
1812 ShowcaveGreat Rutland Cavern Great Britain England's oldest show cave opened to the public.
1816 ShowcaveMammoth Cave NP U.S.A. The second show cave in the U.S.A., this was the year formal guided tours started.
1832 ShowcaveGrotta Parolini Italy Italy's oldest show cave opened to the public.