Barbarossa Cave

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Even before the legend of Barbarossa came into vogue at the turn of the last century, the vast cave in the Kyffhäuser mountains became a popular destination. And rightly: the total area of 13,000 m² is exceptional and as an anhydrite cave it is geologically unique. The multilayer play of colors of the white and grey stone inspired the first chance visitors as early as 1865 – the cave was rediscovered when copper-slate mining was restarted. Initially its full stretch was not known but in the following years people realized that they had found a real treasure. The tourist development took several decades and was accompanied by scientific research performed by numerous experts.

When, at the end of the 19th century, the Kyffhäuser Monument was constructed, the legend of emperor Friedrich I, crusade hero, forefather of the German Empire and icon of the new imperial self-conception came to life again. According to the legend the monarch, who was famous for his red beard, did not die but still waits with his army in a subterranean castle for his day to return and to guide the Empire to new splendor. But as long as ravens fly around the mountain he remains seated at his marble  table and his red beard grows longer as the centuries pass.

As Barbarossa’s stopover in the Kyffhäuser mountains is historically referenced, the renovators of the Barbarossa cult chose the cave near the monument as the symbolic residence of the “Kaiser Red Beard”. According to the legend a sculpture of the emperor made of grand bedrocks from Barbarossa Cave has been erected at his table in the ballroom – today the once so lonely red beard welcomes his visitors from April through October.