Unicorn Cave

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The cave already earned its fame for its geological discovery – but its status as a legend is owed to the prehistoric bones that have been found inside and which gave their name to it: unicorn cave. The 600 meters deep cave system of old upper Permian dolomite is located in the Schwarzfeld district of the small town “Herzberg am Harz” and was discovered no later but in the medieval times. First inscriptions of visitors date back to the 12th century, starting in 16th century guided tours of the cave have been conducted. The natural cave in more than 270 million years old rock belongs to the biggest commercial caves in Harz and is accessible by an artificially mounted entry. A particular beauty is the “Blaue Grotte” (Blue Grotto), which is in the inside of the cave immerged in a fascinating play of colors by incident daylight.

For the first cave explorers the mysterious fossil bone discoveries quickly became the subject of geological and zoological research, but they also were the source of the unicorn legend. The pretension that the bones would belong to unicorns offered great advantages: it made the bones become a coveted piece of trading goods and brought many famous visitors to the cave, such as the researcher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe amongst others. Historic credentials supported the legend: even Cesar is said to have searched for unicorns about 2,000 years ago, whose bones were alleged to have beneficial powers.

Today we know that the bones belong to bears, lions and many other animals from the ice age. Also traces of Neanderthals have been found in the cave. But the name of the cave survived.