Sontheimer Höhle

Cave of Sontheim

Useful Information

the entrance, a guided tour on its way into the cave.
Location: A8 exit Merklingen, 12 km south to Sontheim. 2 km south of Sontheim, in the Tiefental. Leave the road from the Autobahn and enter Sontheim, follw signs towards Seißen. Follow the road Sontheim-Seißen, after 2 km turn right, 5 min/300 m walk from parking lot. (74,Ke58)
Open: MAY to OCT Sat 14-17, Sun, Hol 10-17.
Tours every hour on the hour.
Restaurant: MAY to OCT Sat 14-22, Sun, Hol 9-19.
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Children (6-14) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 2.70, Children (6-14) EUR 1.70.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave horizontal cave, Malm
Light: LightLED
Dimension: L=530 m, VR=37 m, A=720 m asl Portal: W=7 m, H=12 m.
Guided tours: L=192 m, D=20 min., every hour.
Bibliography: Helmut Frank, Erich Ruopp, Herbert Keifer (1997): Führer durch die Sontheimer Höhle, 4th ed., 41 pp, 17 illus, 1 survey, 1 table.
n.A. (1971): 500 Jahre Sontheimer Höhle Pfingsten 1971,
Address: Höhlenverein Sontheim, 72535 Heroldstadt, Tel: +49-7389-906109. E-mail: contact
Cave entrance, Tel: +49-7389-906648 (only during open hours).
Weekdays appointments, Tel: +49-7389-906404. 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.


an impressive side passage.
3./4. century early alemannic grave inside the cave.
1488 first description of the cave by Fabri, the prior of the Dominicans in Ulm.
20-OCT-1516 visit by Herzog Ulrich von Württemberg, the sovereign of this area.
1753 description and first map by Prälat Weissensee.
1791 description by Rössler.
1823 description by Gustav Schwab, a famous German historian.
03-JUL-1825 first big cave celebration which revived the old tradition of cave celebrations with Illumination which started after the visit of the sovereign in 1516.
1825 description and map in the Oberamtsbeschreibung des OA Münsingen (official description of the administrative district of Münsingen).
20-JUN-1857 comprehensive publication released at the annual cave celebration.
16-MAR-1956 founding of the Höhlenverein Sontheim (Cave Club Sontheim).
1957 electric light.
29-31-MAY-1971 inauguration of the cave entrance building at the annual cave celebration.
1971 new survey by the HHVL and the HV Sontheim, map drawn by Helmut Frank.
1977 discovery of a double grave from the Merowingan time (3./4. century, early alemannic) during an excavation of the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege from Tübingen.
2010 LED light system installed.


the descend leads down to the sole of the chamber, where the main cave passage starts.

The Sontheimer Höhle is the oldest show cave of the Schwabian Jura and one of the oldest show caves of the world. The first official guided tour took place at the 20-MAY-1516, during a visit of Herzog Ulrich von Württemberg. At this time the yearly illumination of the cave and the tradition of cave celebrations started.

It is not known how long and how often those celebrations were made, but it ended and the tradition was revived in 1825. Since this year, every year a cave celebration was held at the cave entrance, always with special presentations. In former times this were the only days in the year, the cave was lit. The whole cave was illuminated by candles and petroleum lamps.

in the main branch the path continually descents to the final chamber.

Today the celebration is every year on Whitsunday. This is the only day in the year, when a small cave called Hintere Kohlhaldenhöhle is open. The single room is full of slim stalagmites, also called pillars. They are about 10 to 15 cm in diameter and one to two meters high.

This chamber was discovered several years ago, when a new generator house was built. It is not part of the regular cave tour to protect its beauty and the animals in the cave. Numerous bats live in this small cave.

the maost impressive stalagmite of the cave called the Hut.

The Sontheimer Höhle is entered through a huge portal, which was formed by the collapse of part of the ceiling of the first chamber of the cave. A steep stair leads down the slope, formed by debris from the collapse. After some time the original cave level is reached, and the path follows a passage in this niveau, but still leading slightly downwards. This passage is a dead end, the tour goes back the same path.

This part of the cave is not as big as the entrance hall, but still huge. It shows several formations, which unfortunately have a rather bad state, because of the centuries of human visits, which were made using torches and candles. The grime from this time still covers parts of the walls.

This cave has always been very famous for its bat colonies. In the fifties and sixties thousands of bats were counted in the cave. In the following years, agriculture was intensified and decrease of food combined with the use of insecticides reduced the bat population dramatically. In the seventies only a few animals remained.

Since the eighties intensive bat protection programmes and the reduction of herbicide use led to an slow but constant increase in bat population. The temporary number of bats is much better than in the seventies, although it does not reach the magnitude of the fifties.

Sontheimer Höhle Gallery