The 13.000 m² Barbarossa Cave is one of just two anhydrite rock show caves in the whole world and therewith an absolute geological rarity. The curious charm of the underground magical world lies in the individual, beautiful, multi-layered, more or less immense play of colours contained within the white – grey rock of a thousand fold shapes and forms that continually inspire wide-eyed wonder.

Here you can learn about the characteristics of the cave that fascinate our visitors time and again in more detail:   

Extensive, Hall-like, Flat Hollow Spaces


Entrance Hall: span width: 38 m, height: 10 m

Dance Hall: span width 42 m, height 7 m

High, Dome-like Vaulting


Olympus: 25 m high

Cathedral: 18 m high


Spectacular, Bizarre Ceiling Formations

In the tannery some bizarre, up to 1-metre long „gypsum lobes“ can be found hanging from the ceiling and they’re reminiscent of hides and furs that have been hung to dry out.


Such unusual formations as these cannot be viewed in show caves anywhere else in the world!

They are created when anhydrite turns into gypsum via a hydration process. The anhydrite rock actually doesn’t contain any water, but can absorb water on its surface. The water contained in the 98 % high air humidity is sufficient and gypsum is created as a result. The volume of the stone increases by almost 60% and pressure rises so much that the rock surface is dissolved and grows downwards from the ceiling in the form of these strange lobes. These grow at a rate of 3 – 5 cm every hundred years. The speed of growth is dependent on the rock, the air circulation and the humidity. The flaking process means the lobes loosen more and more until they become so heavy that they break off. Afterwards the process begins all over again.

Crystal Clear Lakes

The numerous crystal-clear shimmering blue-green lakes with their impressive ceiling reflections are striking.
Due to uncanny optical illusions such as the reflection on one hand and a high level of light refraction on the other, the lakes deceptively appear to be much deeper than they actually are.

"Swiss Landscape": 3,50 m deep

„Grotto Lake": 3 m deep

Manifold/ Diverse Layers

Fascinating rock structures: clayey and dolomitic layers of rock separate the 50-metre thick anhydrite layer and the alternation between pale and dark layers is visible throughout the cave.

Alabaster Eyes

White alabaster eyes can be seen in many places in the cave. Alabaster is the purest from of gypsum. In these cases the pure calcium sulfate collected in certain places before it solidified and then hardened to form alabaster spheres.


Snake Gypsum

Particularly observant visitors will notice some interesting „snake gypsum,“ formations in a few places.

The way snake gypsum is created hasn’t been fully explained from a geological point of view, but it certainly took place at the time the precipitated anhydrite was still lying on the seabed as mud. Movement caused individual layers of it to slide and fold, which created movement folds with the smallest of puckering right through to muddled slides and folds of mush.    



Barbarossahöhle im GeoPark Kyffhäuser
Mühlen 6, OT Rottleben
99707 Kyffhäuserland

Telefon: +49 (0)34671 5450
Fax: +49 (0)34671 54514

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