Großes Schulerloch

Big Schuler Cave

Useful Information

the view from the entrance of the Schulerloch into the Altmühl valley.
the building above the entrance to the Schulerloch.
Location: A9 exit Denkendorf or A93 exit Hausen, at the Deutsche Ferienstraße Alpen-Ostsee (German Holiday route), in Oberau between Kehlheim and Essing in the Altmühl valley. 4 km from Kehlheim, 22 km SW Regensburg.
Address of parking lot for navigation: Schulerloch 1a, 93343 Essing
From the parking lot 15-20 min walk, about 50 m uphill.
(48.928010, 11.820584)
Open: APR daily 10-16, last tour 16.
MAY to mid-SEP daily 10-16:30, last tour 16:30.
Mid-SEP to Fall Holidays daily 10-16, last tour 16.
For Bavarian School Holidays, see Schulferien Bayern
Tours every 30 min.
Fee: Adults EUR 6.50, Children (4-15) EUR 4.50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6, Children (4-15) EUR 4.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave horizontal cave, Malm (Korallenkalk)
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightSon et Lumière
Dimension: L=420 m, BR: AR=793 m², T=9 °C.
Guided tours: D=30 min.
Photography: Not allowed
Accessibility: Partly: the cave is horizontal and has no steps, but the only way to the cave is a walking trail and there is a staircase to the cave entrance.
Bibliography: Anonymous (oJ): Tropfsteinhöhle Schulerloch im Altmühltal.
H. Gruber, E. Gruber (1984): Das Große Schulerloch - Die Tropfsteinhöhle im Altmühltal. Verlag M. Gstöttner, Regensburg 1984
Address: Tropfsteinhöhle Schulerloch, Oberau 2, 93343 Essing, Tel: +49-9441-1796778, 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.


1782 first description of the cave in the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Bavarian Academy of Science).
1793 discovered by Adrian von Riedl and named Riedlshöhle.
1825 bought by Regierungsrat Anton Schmauss.
1826-1928 developed and opened to the public by Schmauss, building above the cave entrance errected.
1828 torches used as light source.
1912 carbide lamps used.
1915 archaeological excavations by Prof. Birkner.
1953 electric light.


a tour in the entrance of the cave. Walls covered with moonmilk
a nearby shelter, which is called abri in German, after the French word for shelter.

The Schulerloch is of palaeontological interest. It was the shelter for Neanderthal man during the middle paleolithic. The humans used only the front part of the cave, but in the rear part the remains of numerous animals of the Würm Ice Age.

In early bronze age, the cave was inhabited by humans again. But then the entrance was walled up, the reason is unknown. The cave was forgotten until the middle ages, when it was rediscovered.

The man who developed the cave, Anton von Schmauß, was freemason. He placed the inscriptions above the entrance, and a statue of Goddess Isis, the Goddess of Nature. He also built a pavilion above the entrance, suitable for living, and a second one nearby, which hosts a museum today. This small museum shows some exhibits about the cave, the Altmühl valley and the Rhein-Main-Donau-Kanal (Rhine-Danube-Canal).

The Schulerloch is called dripstone cave in German. But this name is not very exact, as the speleothems in this cave are composed of moonmilk. Moonmilk is a white, opaque speleothem consisting mainly of calcite, but may also contain hydrocalcite, hydromagnesite or huntite. It covers big areas on walls and ceiling. But regular dripstone, stalagmites and stalagtite composed of calcite crystals, are very rare in this cave. An exception are two beautiful rimstone pools at the end of the cave. But this lack of common speleothems gives the cave a special character.

The cave is formed in corall reef limestones of the Jurassic. This limestone has no layers and so the chambers are of irregular shape. The complex structure of the arched ceiling give the cave a special acoustics. An extraordinary Didgeridoo during my cave tour was a real impressive experience.

The cave is said to be 1.5 Million years old. At this time the Altmühl-Donau was 55 m higher than today and was the drainage of the cave. The Altmühl-Danube was a combination of todays rivers, as the danube used this part of the Altmühl valley at this time. The cave was formed during a period of stagnancy in the cutting in of the river. The the river restarted to cut in, the Danube changed its bed and the Altmühl continued to cut until 200,000 years BP. The Danube formed the famous canyon of Weltenburg, which is nearby. The connection between Danube and Altmühl is today called Dry Valley of Wellheim.

The Schulerloch is often called Großes Schulerloch (Big Schulerloch), because there is also a small Schulerloch, the Kleines Schulerloch. This small cave is not open to the public, and contains an engraving showing a hind or an ibex. It was discovered in 1937 by the two local historians A. Oberneder and O. Rieger.

The engraving has a certain similarity to paleolithic engravings in French and Spanish caves. Prof. Birkner, Dr. Wagner and Prof. Obermaier called it the first ice age engraving in Germany. But Prof. Zotz from Erlangen was much more sceptic, and because of the minimal weathering he thought it was a fake.

The actual state of scientific research dates the engraving to the late Magdalenian, 10,000 BC. But this is not proofed by geophysical methods, its just based on an analysis of stile and technique. A proof of its age is at the moment not possible.

Below the engraving several runes from the 6th to 8th century can be found. Their closeness to the stone age engraving made their interpretation even more difficult. The runes form three words: BIRG LEUB SELBRADE. Birg is a female first name, the ancestor of Birgit or Brigitte. Selbrade is a male first name. Leub means love, vow, dedicate. The interpretation is rather easy... A replica of the engraving is on display in the small museum near the cave entrance, mentioned above.