The “Christine” slate mine in Willingen, North Hessen, has been open to visitors for over 100 years. Here you can learn all sorts of interesting facts about how the mine was built and how slate is mined, as well as how the slate is processed and used above ground. Divers can also get their money’s worth here: Trained cave divers can explore the flooded beds along a 1.2-kilometre line. A spotlight reveals the secrets of the underworld and makes it possible to make out items of clothing, shoes, bottles, tools, pipes, rails and trolleys. Opening hours: November to March: Wednesday - Sunday, 10am and 11am; April to October: Wednesday - Saturday at 10am, 11am, 3pm and 4pm; Sunday 10am and 11am. Entry 3.50 EUR for adults, 2 EUR for children (4-12 years).
The tour of Herbststein begins at the Marktplatz square and takes you into the mysterious underground vaults from the 13th century. The vaults are not just interesting in terms of cultural history as the only remaining relic from the historical castle; they are also the perfect place to find out about the volcanic past of the Vogelsberg. Once you’ve entered the vaults, you’ll have a 360-degree view of cooled lava flows from the Vogelsberg. You can see volcanic ash in the vault walls– they look like biscuits with a filling inside. The ash covered the area after explosive volcanic eruptions. The upper lava flow turned the ash red as it flowed over the top at a temperature of around 1,300 degrees. It is comparable with earthenware burned in a furnace. This layer was the easiest to work with and remove to create a cellar that has remained strong to this day. Next date: 21st October 2017 at 2pm. Entry 3 EUR for adults, 2 EUR for children (over 6 years) and 8 EUR for families.
Wine has been grown at Kassel’s Weinberg since the 13th century. Deep in the limestone rock, you can find a tunnel system that once served as an ice cellar, then a wine cellar, and even as an air raid shelter. Its temperature remains at eleven degrees throughout the year. Ten entrances and nine tunnels form a labyrinth of corridors, some of which are narrow, dark and low. If this doesn’t bother you, you should definitely explore this network of tunnels as part of a tour. It’s too dangerous to wander around these tunnels on your own. Entry 5 EUR, booking required.
Visitors can discover other unknown, hidden and hard-to-access places in Kassel with the ViKoNauten. This association runs the “Kassel Total” project to provide historical tours of these places and bring them to life with special performances. The ViKoNauten offer extraordinary city tours for individuals, school groups and private groups. They also arrange regular special events. “Sundays in the bunker” and “Kassel’s underworld” are just two examples of the fascinating guided tours.
Bad Homburg vor der Höhe is home to fascinating tours, including some that go below the city and the famous landgraves’ castle. The landgraves’ crypt is located below the castle church. With a total of 77 tombs, it is one of the largest and most valuable historic crypts in Hessen. Family members of the ruling class in Hessen-Homburg lie in the crypt in elaborately adorned or simply decorated coffins. The crypt is only open on special occasions. It is next open on Reformation Day on Tuesday 31st October and can be visited between 5pm and 9pm. Last admission is at 8:30pm. Tours depart from the museum shop in the entrance area of the landgraves’ castle, where visitors can pay the entry fee of 5 EUR per person and book their visit to the crypt.
This underground tour of the Sprudelhof’s catacombs runs on the first Thursday of the Month from November to March. It is organised by Bad Nauheim Stadtmarketing und Tourismus GmbH in conjunction with the Sprudelhof Bad Nauheim Foundation. Visitors follow the underground passage from the spring chamber to spring XIV. It then continues up to the bathing water channel. The special tour gives you a unique insight into the technology behind the bathing facilities. The pipes and boilers used to transport mineral water from depths of 210 metres into the baths are over 100 years old and still fully functional. This tour is not suitable for everyone due to the narrow passages, the high air humidity levels and the low ceilings underneath the Sprudelhof. Participants must be over 16 years old and in good physical condition. Sturdy footwear and durable clothing are required. The tour lasts 1.5 hours and costs 15 EUR. Pre-booking with Bad Nauheim Stadmarketing und Tourismus GmbH required.
The entrance to the Hausertor tunnels lies on the edge of Wetzlar’s old town. The unlit tunnel system can only be accessed as part of a guided walking tour. These tours can be booked at the Tourist Information Centre in Wetzlar. A public tour is also offered on the second Saturday of every month. The tours of the tunnels reveal one of the darkest chapters in Wetzlar’s history. The tunnel system was blown up in the surrounding hills by prisoners of war and local miners during the Second World War. Key items needed for the war effort were produced in these hidden plants, and the local population also sought protection here during bombing attacks. The tunnel system has been partly knocked through, but there’s one part where you can still see the rock. As such, the walking tour also reveals interesting facts about the region’s geology. The tours take place on the second Saturday of every month at 3pm. Tickets cost 6 EUR (discounted tickets: 3 EUR).
The Kubach crystal cave is the only calcite crystal cave in Germany. Surrounded by limestone dating back 350 million years and decorated with innumerable crystals and sparkling stalactites, visitors can gain a great insight into the world of geology. The crystal cave is 30 metres tall, making it the tallest in Germany. The Kubach system of caves was created during the Ice Age, and only some of them have been opened to date. Knowledgeable guides are on hand to explain the key points to visitors during the 45-minute tour. The cave season ended on 5th November in 2017. Opening hours: Weekdays from 3pm to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm, public Holidays and days in between public holidays 10am to 5pm. Entry 6 EUR for adults, 1.50 EUR for children (3-5 years), 4 EUR discounted entry.
The historical and idyllic open mine, “Marie in der Kohlbach”, is small and full of surprises. It has also been crowned “Geotope of the Year” by the UNESCO Geo-Naturpark Bergstraße-Odenwald. The mine is situated in the forest near Hohensachsen, a district of Weinheim. The former silver mine goes deep: Starting in the valley, which forms the entrance to the mine, a 50-metre tunnel stretches deep into the mountain. (The tunnel may be even longer – 50 metres have been discovered to date). Two shafts also lead into the depths of the mine. Last year, the remains of the medieval pump shaft were excavated. It had been largely destroyed by mining work in the quartz corridor and was covered by large pieces of debris. Guides available by appointment. Donation upon entry.
You have until the end of October to visit the fascinating underground world in the “Christiane Pit” in the Diemelsee nature reserve in North Hessen, the home of the Brothers Grimm. It is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Former pitmen are on hand to tell fascinating stories about the iron ore mining that took place over the centuries. You can enjoy a genuine mining atmosphere with vivid portrayals of everyday life in the mines and the shimmering red iron ore in the solid rock. The fascinating, interactive exhibition will teach you all about the mine, the miners’ work, how the iron ore was made. Opening hours: Wednesday and Saturday 1pm to 5pm, Sunday and public holidays 10am to 5pm. Entry 6 EUR for adults, 4 EUR for children (up to 15 years).
If you want to know where gold has been mined since the Middle Ages, you should visit Goldhausen, a gold mine and pithead building in the North Hessen town of Korbach. It is home to Germany’s largest gold deposit. The temperature is always eight degrees here. Fascinating two-hour tours in the “lower depth valley tunnels” are available until 29th October 2017. Visitors are provided with hard hats, safety jackets, rubber boots and a pit lamp. Opening hours vary. Please enquire at the tourist information office in the Bürgerbüro (citizens’ support office) in Korbach. Entry 7 EUR for adults, 3.50 EUR for children (6-14 years).
The Hoher Meißner in the Fulda-Werra mountains is the famous home of Mother Hulda, the fairytale figure. But the area is also interesting as a site where “black gold” has been mined for some 400 years. During a guided tour through the old tunnels, visitors can find out all about the historical background of lignite mining, life as a miner and how “white gold” was made from “black gold”. The tour can be booked in addition to the “miners’ trail” (“Knappenpfad”), which takes visitors to a coal fire that has been glowing for 400 years on the stone wall. Prices: Knappenpfad trail (2 hours) 3.50 EUR per person, extended Knappenpfad trail (3 hours) 4 EUR per person. More information from the Meißner-Kaufunger-Wald nature reserve.
Bergfreiheit is the “treasure chest in the Kellerwald” and a popular holiday resort in the heart of one of the largest beech-hardwood forests in Europe. The former miners’ village in the Urff Valley was once the mining centre of North Hessen’s Kellerwald. The Bergfreiheit climatic health resort was founded at the time of copper and ore mining. The open mine, historical mining office and the miners’ church are all relics of the past in this miners’ settlement. Opening hours: until 31st October, Wednesday to Sunday from 2pm until 3:30pm. Entry 4 EUR for adults, 2 EUR for children (up to 14 years).
Manganese ore was mined from the tunnels of the Ludwig Pit in the Michelbach Forest during the flourishing mining period from 1870 to the turn of the century. The old tunnels were opened to visitors at the end of the 1990s. The structures were rebuilt, mud and debris cleared away, drainage channels created and the path stabilised. The result is an important industrial monument for future generations. Today, visitors can visit the 85-metre-long tunnel and the carefully landscaped grounds. Old equipment is on display along the path to give visitors an idea of the miners’ harsh life. Tours are available for groups of five or more. Please book in advance.
Situated in the centre of Germany, Hessen’s regions and cities offer attractive holiday destinations and leisure activities for walkers, cyclists, culture vultures, nature lovers, families and those looking to relax and unwind. Idyllic timber-framed towns and big city flair, over 3,300 kilometres of long-distance cycle routes, numerous cultural events, 31 spas and health resorts, over 3,000 kilometres of certified hiking trails, a large selection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an abundance of castles, palaces and museums − Hessen is a land full of contrasts.
For more information, please visit: www.hessen-tourismus.de
HA Hessen Agentur GmbH is responsible for marketing tourism and conventions on behalf of the Hessen State Government.