Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

 

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

What do you do on a rainy afternoon in Vienna, when you are stuck indoors as touring the city is just not as much fun in the rain. Well, we would say, drive down to Hinterbrühl, Lower Austria to explore Seegrotte, which is said to be one of the largest underground lakes in Europe. 

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

History of Seegrotte

Seegrotte is a cave system located 27 kilometers away from Vienna city, which operated as a gypsum mine between the years 1848 to 1912. The ambitious expansion plan of the mine went haywire when the blasting operation resulted in the mine being filled with 20 million liters of waters! It was then opened to the public in the year 1930 as a mining museum and has been a major tourist spot ever since. During the World War II, the German army converted Seegrotte into an airplane factory to build world’s first fighter jet “Heinkel HE 162 Salamander” using about 2000 prisoners from the war. The underground lake was pumped dry to undergo the secret operation. After the war ended, Seegrotte was once again open for public, and currently has guided tour all throughout the year.

Guided tour of the Seegrotte

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’
Walking through the narrow Tunneling Adit which is about 400m.

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

As we did not have many options of exploring Vienna city, we drove to the Lower Austria after an unsatisfactory tour of the Schönbrunn Palace (we had to entirely skip the gorgeous garden due to the rains).  As a rule, we generally pre-book our tickets to such sights, but since this was an impromptu plan we bought our guided tour tickets on the spot and waited for our slot. Before entering the cave, you will be warned of the temperature inside (9° C, all throughout the year) and will be offered warm jackets but additional charges are applicable.

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’
The tunnel adits are stabilized using timbers which are called as ‘German Frame’.

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

Our guide was a cheerful Austrian who spoke in English and German, made sure our visit was an interesting one. The tour began with the walk across 400metre tunnel which was the adit (passage) for the miners to carry wagons into the Hinterbrühl mountain for Gypsum mining. As we walked into the mine, the artifacts that are kept in display gave us a sneak peek into the fascinating history of the miners in the olden days, their mining techniques and tools used. During the old times, miners used horses to pull the wagons to the exit. Sadly, the horses lived in these dark tunnels for as long as 20 years that went permanently blind.

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’
Display of some of the few mining tools

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’
The festival room of the mine, Barbara adit

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

 

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

There was also a model of the “Heinkel HE 162”, and also, we were given a comprehensive info by our guide on how the old mine was converted to an aircraft factory. The mine has several tunnels that once lead deep into the old excavation site, but today they are not accessible to the public. There is a small chapel built in the memory of the miners who lost their lives in the mining accidents. There is also a spacious celebration room, where the owner of the old mine arranged for festivities for the miners every year on the 4th of December.

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’
The Festival room of the mine where the owners celebrated their anniversary along with the miners every year.

After completing the tour of the upper floor, our tour group was then taken to the lower floor through the incline ramp, which earlier used to carry ores from the bottom to the top floor. As we reached the base, we saw the underground lake, ‘Big Lake’ glistening in the soft glow of the cave lamps. Now, comes the most interesting part of the tour, the boat ride around the grotto. The lake is pristine and very pure, the soft lights give it a very mystical and romantic touch to the ride. We were so engrossed with the gorgeous lake that we completely forgot to change ISO settings of the camera, and ended up clicking real blurry pics of the lake.

This inclined ramp was used to transfer the ore from the lower level to the upper using the hutches which were moved by the horses in the winch room.

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

One more interesting fact about Seegrotte is that it was the shoot location for the 1993 Disney Movie, “The Three Musketeers”. There is a replica of the boat used in the movie that is secured in the lake, a great photo op we must say!

Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’

The cave tour and the boat ride was a fun outing, and we are glad we decided to drive down to Hinterbrühl to explore it. The entrance fee to Seegrotte is €11 for adults and €8 for children. There is a family ticket (2 adult and 2 children), which costs €30. Please keep in mind that the cave temperature is 9° C come rain or shine, so be sure to carry warm clothes along. 

Hope you guys enjoyed reading about our impromptu trip to Hinterbrühl, Lower Austria. Do share your experience of such unplanned visits while traveling. Also, do leave comments on your take on this gorgeous underground lake! Do share and subscribe to get future updates from Tales of Travelling Sisters!



26 thoughts on “Tour of Seegrotte ‘the Lake Cave’”

  • I’m not a huge fan of anything underground, but Seegrotte looks like a fascinating and very interesting place to visit. Nice to hear how cold it is in there too. Sad to know about those poor horses who spent their entire lives there too.

  • What a unique place to spend a rainy day! That festival room is so grand! I’ve never seen something so grand underground. I feel bad for the horses, though. 🙁

    If you’re ever in the US, we visited a former underground mine in Louisville, Kentucky that now has a zipline course, ropes course, and BMX bike trails in it! It was so cool!

  • Segrotte seems a truly fascinating place. I am sure that would be a lovely trip for a family with kids and I appreciated that you put the information regarding the family package ticket.

  • The EXACT same thing happened when we visited Vienna – it just rained the whole time. If I go back, it’s good to know there’s cool underground stuff there 🙂

  • What a beautiful alternative to exploring the city on a rainy day! I have never heard of this underground lake else I would have also loved to visit it when I was in Austria last winter. Thanks for the tip on the really low temperatures inside the cave, one better be prepared for it!

  • I hadn’t heard of this tourist attraction before and what a brilliant idea to explore this when the weather was so bad on that day. This lake does look quite fascinating and learning the history associated with the whole site is quite interesting. Who would have thought you could convert a mine into a place of aircraft manufacture? I just feel so sorry for those poor horses you mentioned being forced to be down there for 20 years. Really cool find, thank you for sharing your adventure here.

  • I’ve only visited Vienna once, many decades ago, for a day, so it was already on my list to revisit, even more so now I know about the Seegrotte lake cave, which I hadn’t heard of before! Thanks so much for showing us this natural attraction!

  • The Lake Cave of Seegrotte was the perfect solution for dealing with rainy weather. I can’t believe that people and animals stayed down there so long and built so much. So they rent winter coats for those of us who are unprepared for the cold? What a good idea! Also looks like you were able to take terrific photos.

  • Wow what a great post about a less promoted place just a stone throw away from the capital. I was there few weeks ago and if only I read this okay would have surely visited. It looks great and a lot of stories from the past imbedded in those queries I must say. Some sad and some must be happy ones. Posts like these help find new places that are much more interesting than the routine.

  • What a fascinating place to visit. Although I think I would start to feel a bit claustrophobic in those tunnels! An amazing insight into that history though, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like working and living in those conditions. The poor horses going blind! They must have been worked hard, for sure, in challenging conditions in the dark. A beautiful lake at the end as well – a brief reprieve.

  • I never thought there’s a gypsum mine in Austria and there’s one of the largest underground lakes there. Awesome! The history that followed the mine is also interesting! It gives something new to everyone who likes to learn about the history of a city. It’s sad to read about the horses though.

  • Thanks for sharing this historical museum. Though it is saddening to know its background story, it is admirable that they keep this as a reminder.
    Was it really cold inside the tunnel?

  • I’m still contemplating between Vienna and Salzburg in Austria. Now, this Europe’s largest underground lake is a +1 for Vienna. Thanks for introducing this place to me.
    Indeed a sad state of the horses. Learnt that in the old coal mines of Belgium.

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