Emperor Barbarossa died on a crusade to the holy land. He died on the way back in Turkey with a fever. But as the corpse was not brought back to Germany, there was no evidence, that he really was dead. It was rumoured, that he was still alive a would be back in the right moment!
This rumour was the base of a legend, telling that Emperor Barbarossa was sleeping inside the Kyffhäuser mountain in an subterranean chateau. He is sitting on a marble table and his red beard has alread grown through the table-top. Every 1000 years he is awakened by a raven, to see if its time to come back.
Originally this legend talked about Staufan Emperor Friedrich II., but in the 16th century it was modified to fit Friedrich I. Barbarossa. He became Herzog von Schwaben (Duke of Swabia) in 1125, German King in 1152 and Emperor in 1155. Being Emperor, he tried to strengthen the Reich against the numerous princes. But after he died on a crusade 1190, he left his work uncompleted.
The medieval people were not aware of their own power, so the only way for a better living was the appearance of a strong Emperor who changed the conditions. At this time there were numerous quarrels and wars between the aristocrats, but the costs were normally payed by the people. So the people hoped, a strong Emperor would make an end to all these wars.
Both Emperors above tried this, but both died before they brought it to an end.
The legend is rather specific about the place, so there is only one cave claiming to be the place. Barbarossa Cave has a big table, which was built in the last century as an reminiscence to the Barbarossa legend. As the rocks are anhydrite or gypsum, which looks a little bit like marble, there is a second parallelism beneath the place. However, we have never seen Barbarossa on our visits!