Saalfeld Fairy Caves: meet the most colorful cave grottoes in the world in an abandoned mine

The Saalfeld Fairy Caves, or Die Feengrotten in German, are located in Saalfeld, in the German state of Thuringia, and show that the world is full with magnificent locations that are not in a faraway place.

These caves, which were formerly home to an alum slate mine, have long been known for their multitude of colorful mineral formations, which were created over time by water trickling through relatively soft rock.

Nature is the world’s best painter (OK, maybe Monet is on par), and the magnificent burst of colors in these deep caves is one of nature’s best works.

Because of the iron and mineral-rich environment, a wide range of colors, including more than 100 shades of brown, may be identified.

The Guinness Book of World Records declared Feengrotten “the most colorful cave grottoes in the world” in 1993.

Mining began around 1530, but instead of high-quality metal, miners discovered only alum.

Historically, alum slate has been used in a number of medicinal uses, as a food preservative, and to clean water.

However, in the nineteenth century, stronger chemical compounds were produced, and alum ceased to be a profitable mining commodity.

By the twentieth century, the Feengrotten had mainly been forgotten. The old mine, on the other hand, was discovered in 1910, and explorers observed the tremendous mineral concentrations that had accumulated during the geologically small period of three centuries.

The caverns are divided into three chambers that are connected by tunnels. The first chamber has information on the mine’s history, which spans the 16th to 19th centuries, and was an alum shale mine that closed in 1850 but reopened to the public in 1914.

The Feengrotten Emanatorium, which opened on September 10, 1937, as one of Germany’s first healing caves, is also located on this floor.

At its lowest point, the mine’s second floor is 26 meters below ground, and it was the discovery location of the fairy grottoes as well as the source of the mineral water that generated the lovely stalagmites and stalactites.

Scientists looked into the source of the mineral-rich water, which was shown to have medicinal effects. As a result, this chamber has earned the moniker “source caverns” among locals.

As a result, people began to drink the mineral-rich water, and by the mid-1960s, the springs had dried up, and the supply of mineral water had run dry.

On December 22nd, 1913, the third chamber was uncovered, and it was the most magnificent of them all.

The area, which included a wide variety of deposits illuminated by dramatic lighting and mirrored in a flawlessly tranquil pool of water, was called “The Fairy Kingdom” (Märchendom) because of its uncanny similarity to miniature castles.

The fact, grandeur of the Fairy Kingdom chamber was the impetus for reopening the fairy tunnels.


The Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes were therefore launched on May 31, 1914. With the creation of a coffee shop, the “grotto tavern” was established.

At the time, a pavilion with a café was erected, and it was used for decades, even during the post-World War II German Democratic Republic, which classified the Feengrotten as an official Sehenswürdigkeit (place of interest) of the GDR and opened it to foreign tourists.

Following German unification, the pavilion was renovated and new amenities were added beginning in 1998.


Between 1914 and 2007, almost 20 million people visited the grottoes, which now draw an average of 160,000 tourists every year.

In 1998, the building was entirely refurbished in line with historical patterns in the 1920s style. Since then, the cave has been used as a restaurant and “Ausflugsgaststätte” for special events.

The spring house was built three years after the seat as a research center for examining the mineral springs of the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes.

Laboratories were generally located on the spring house grounds. In the basement, there was a filling facility for medicinal and mineral fluids extracted from the fairy grottoes.

There was also a ballroom, which later evolved into the “Gasthaus Feengrotten” of today.

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