Barbarossa Cave

Useful Information

historic discovery adit.
Location: A7 exit Seesen (Harz), B243 66 km to Nordhausen, F80 16 km to Berga, F85 to Bad Frankenhausen, after 12 km turn right to Rottleben. Between Steinthalleben and Rottleben, at the Kyffhäuser. 1.5 km NW Rottleben, 5 km NW Bad Frankenhausen. (30,Lf40)
Open: NOV-MAR daily 10-16, APR-OCT daily 10-17. [2003]
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (-14) EUR 4, Familiy (2+5) EUR 16.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5, Children (-14) EUR 3.
Classification: Speleologygypsum cave, cave system, Zechstein, anhydrite.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=1,100 m, 154 m asl, T=9 °C, biggest lake: L=50 m, D=3m
Guided tours: L=800 m, D=40 min, St=31.
tour in cave: L=600 m.
entrance tunnel: L=168 m, 1898.
exit tunnel: L=30 m, 1926.
V=100,000/a [1999]
V=200,000/a [2000]
Deutsch - German English
Bibliography: Anon (no year): Die Barbarossahöhle im Kyffhäuser, Hrsg: Einrichtung Erholungswesen, 06567 Rottleben/Kyffhäuser, Tel: +49-3467-4586-2033 (Deutsch - German)
Address: Barbarossahöhle Rottleben, Mühlen 6, 06567 Rottleben, Tel: +49-34671-5450, +49-34671-54513 (Besucherservice), Fax: +49-34671-54514. 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.


gypsum rags in the Tannery.
1860 first adits for copper slate mining built by the entrepreneur von Born from Dortmund.
20-DEC-1865 after 178 m the cave was reached by the adit of the miners Christian Nachtweide, August Schumann and Heinrich Vollrodt.
1866 development and inauguration under the name Falkenburger Höhle.
19-AUG-1869 Heinrich Vollrodt had a lethal accident in the cave.
1891 new owner and renaming into Barbarossahöhle, the desk and chair of Barbarossa erected and Ballroom prepared.
1895 electric light.
1898-1899 new adit into the cave built.
1913 detailed exploration and survey by Dr A. Berg.
1926 another adit into the cave built, used as new exit.
1935 discovery of a continuation by Stolberg.


cave visitors in the Tannery.

The Barbarossahöhle is entered through a long adit. The tour shows most of the cave, only a small part is too low for the average visitors. The whole cave is rather voluminous.

The cave has numerous big lakes with gypsum rich water, which shows a unique green colour. This colour is produced by the filtering of white light by the dissolved Gypsum. The green colour is deeper where the water is deeper. The water is extremely clear and contains almost no dust.

The cave is formed inside anhydrite (CaSO 4 ). The layers are 1-2 cm thick, and separated by a thin grey layer of clay minerals. The humidity in the cave transforms the anhydrite into gypsum, a process where the anhydrite absorbs water and increases its volume by about 30%. This causes the layers to bend down and form huges sheet like structures. The ceiling often resembles puff pastry.

the lake, which mirrors the sheets of the tannery was made artificially to protect this sheets.

In the Tannery this sheets grew until they are hanging down about 1 m. It is said, that they were hanging down more than 2 m when the cave was discovered, but they were destroyed by careless cave visitors. This huge sheets of 2 cm thick gypsum, with grey clay on both sides, hanging down folded like leather gave the room its name.

In the chamber called Wolkenhimmel (Clouded Sky) some steps were built, and a sign with the inscription Barbarossahöhle. This place s udes to make a group picture of the tour. The pictures are sold after the tour at the cave entrance.

A rather strange sight are the desk and chair of Emperor Barbarossa. They were built at the end of the 19th century, when the legend of emperor Barbarossa was very popular.

Only a few steps to the discovery adit. Between anhydrite and older crystalline rocks is typically a thin layer of copper rich slate. It is rather easy to reach through the soft anhydrite, so copper mining in anhydrite was very common for several centuries. The cave is one of numerous caves which were discovered during this mining activities. They were locally known as Schlotten and often used to deposit dug out anhydrite.

At the end of the tour the cave is left through a third adit. This one is very short, as the cave is rather close to the surface at this end.

one of the numerous lakes in Barbarossahöhle.

After its discovery the cave was named Falkenburger Höhle after a nearby ruined castle. But because of its location inside the Kyffhäuser it was always thought to have a connection to the tale of Emperor Barbarossa. Increasing interest in the German history and identity at the end of the 19th century lead to the construction of the Barbarossa Monument on top of the Kyffhäuser and the renaming of the cave. This was very lucrative for the cave owners.

During the times of the DDR (German Democratic Republic, GDR) this cave was a very popular sight, owned by the state (Volkseigentum or peoples property). The guides were on the payroll of the state, as virtually everybody. Entrance fees were defined by the state and were pretty funny, as they charged strange amounts like 1.45 Marks. They also charged small fees for parking and photography in the cave.

After the Währungsunion, when the GDR used the West German Mark, the fees increased slowly to western standards. But still the need to be economic was very problematic for the eastern show caves. West German caves were typically maintained by so called Vereine, caving clubs were the members worked on a honorary basis. The fees were not enough to pay professional cave guides, at least not during winter when visitor numbers dropped.

The so called Fotografiererlaubnis (photography permit) was abandoned, now photography is strictly forbidden. And the explanation of this fact is pretty weird: The guide tells the visitors, that they are not responsible for the proscription. The cave was found during mining activities and so the mining authority was now responsible for the security of the cave visitors. One of their rules is the safety of the paths, which is disrupted by flashlight. Flashlight blinds the other visitors and the eye needs up to 15 minutes to recover completely.

On this explanation, employees at the mining authority, doctors and photographers are confused alike. There is some truth is all this statements, but they are twisted to a weird and wrong construct. And they are pushed to the point of absurdity by the guide, when he askes the visitors to pose for a group picture. Asked about this inconsistence he tells something about special flashlights.

By the way: the pictures on this page were made some years ago with a valid Fotoerlaubnis. Smile

Barbarossahöhle Gallery