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So as I was saying last week, it turned out to be a bargain. For around 49 Euros each we got to see Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Karmel Mayerling and Seegrotte Hinterbrühl, and didn’t have to shell out anything for transport or entrances.

If you missed last week’s blog, my sis and I were running out of time on our last day in Vienna, and didn’t want to waste time waiting for connecting buses from Wien Oper to Baden bei Wien, and then from Baden bei Wien to Karmel Mayerling.

Someone told us about this half day seat in coach trip that would take us there and be economical as well. So we joined this trip group to see Karmel Mayerling and got to see Heiligenkreuz Abbey and Seegrotte Hinterbrühl as well. So last week I covered my sister’s crazy voices after seeing Mayerling Chapel. This week I continue about Seegrotte.

Seegrotte - TheWingedFork
Seegrotte Entrance
Seegrotte-Hinterbruhl-Map - TheWingedFork
Seegrotte Hinterbruhl Map

Touring Seegrotte Hinterbrühl

The Seegrotte tour began with a walk of 450 feet through a narrow tunnel into the heart of the Hinterbrühl mountain.

Seegrotte-tunnel - TheWingedFork
Tunnel where we begin the 450 feet walk

We reach a large chamber that in the upper level where we have to go down steep slides to the lower level. The guide made us go through in groups of four. Well, except for him. He just whizzed down on his own. We almost expected not to stop at the bottom and fly over the end, but surprisingly all of us stopped just short of flying over the end. Some really good mechanics at work, though I haven’t gotten around to opening the text books yet.

At the lower level, we saw a number of artefacts and objects that were used in the gypsum mine when it was active from 1848 to 1912. We also learnt about how an underground blasting operation that went off beam caused the mine to flood with 20 million litres of water, creating Europe’s largest subterranean lake. The mine stayed closed till some cave explorers found it in 1930, post which it was opened as a museum to the public.

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Mining equipment used at Seegrotte from 1848 to 1912
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Another tunnel and more mining equipment

Gypsum Mine used as Airplane Factory

However, during the Second World War, the mine was taken over by Hitler’s army and used as an airplane factory. One of the world’s first fighter jets, the “Heinkel HE 162 Salamander” was built here. It was supposedly a secret weapon of the German Luftwaffe, but thankfully was never used.

Replica-Heinkel-Salamander-plane - TheWingedFork
Replica and parts of the Heinkel HE 162 Salamander

As we travel further into the mine, we see a crystal clear lake called the Blue Lake. It’s about 3 meters deep and has a surface area of 300 square meters, with a water temperature of about 8 degrees Celsius. By the way, one fascinating bit about the entire Seegrotte mine is that it is permanently 9 degrees Celsius down there, come rain or snow. Need to research about the how bit.

One more level down, and there is a Saint Barbaramuseum or a Barbara Kapelle that was constructed in 1864 in memory of all the miners who have lost their lives. Saint Barabara is the patron saint of miners. Masses were held in this chapel every year till it couldn’t hold enough people anymore. The two letters G and A on the altar read “Gluck Auf’ meaning ‘Good luck’! We also passed by a number of niche tombs in the walls for the miners.

Horse-stable - TheWingedFork
Replica horses in the mine stables

We also saw a horse stable and a museum with artefacts from mining and from the airplane factory. The horses here supposedly never saw daylight again after reaching the mine. They also lost their eyesight over time, since the mine did not have decent lighting in those days. Really crappy conditions. Where were the animal right activists in those days?

Ride on the Underground Big Lake

The last bit of the tour was a boat ride across another underwater lake called the Big Lake. The water in this lake would usually around 2 meters high, but is kept waist deep by pumping out over 50,000 to 60,000 litres of water every night. Hence, it has an average depth of 1.2 meters and a surface area of about 6,200 square meters. I wanted to ask why they needed to pump out the water to attract tourists? Couldn’t they just let the mine fill up and use it as a great inland scuba destination? Maybe the mine owners never thought of that, eh?

Boat-Seegrotte - TheWingedFork
View of ‘The Three Musketeers’ boat from our blue boat

Anyways, this lake was also used in the 1993 version of the movie ‘The Three Musketeers’. There’s a replica of the vintage looking boat that was used in the movie too. So we start the 10 or 15 minute boat ride (on another modern day boat), get a few good pictures, but my camera’s finding it difficult to adjust to the dark. So I rely on my sister for photographs.

Big-Lake-Seegrotte - TheWingedFork
On the Lake – Seegrotte
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Tunnels on the lake

Surprise on the Lake

But at one point in the ride, we are told that we’re exactly 20 meters (I think the guide said 20 meters) below the Blue Lake that we’d seen a while back. That was amazing! Just the chance to tell people that you rode a boat on a lake that was under another lake under an Austrian mountain. That was the best part. Absolutely worth it!

I probably won’t go to Seegrotte again. Well, unless they turn it into a scuba tunnel for me. It may be a bit over rated, but for a one time visit, it was something to remember and talk about. And blog about too! 😉

Seegrotte---TheWingedFork
Seegrotte Hinterbruhl : Europe’s Largest Underground Lake

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40 thoughts on “Seegrotte’s underground Blue Lake, and the tale to go with it. Gluck Auf!

  1. Wow this looks so cool & so interesting. I’ve never heard of it but I’d say it’s definitely worth a visit to see what it’s all about & that blue lake looks awesome!

  2. Thanks Katie! We struggled a bit with the photos because of the shortage of light down there. But yes, it was definitely worth it to be able to tell someone that I went on a boat ride on a lake that was under another lake under a mountain. 🙂

  3. I adore underground tours, aving taken similar tours in Naples and Prague in the last year. Seegrotte looks super interesting, it’s great to explore underground and understand how life used to be!

    1. Yes, Underground tours are always awesome. I haven’t had the chance to do visit Naples and Prague yet. But they’re on my list.
      And this lake in Austria too was a must to, at least once!

  4. Awesome post on a place I never heard of! Although I have visited Vienna, I never went to Seegrotte. It’s looks really atmospheric and the fact that “The Three Musketeers” was filmed there ups its cool factor!

    1. Thanks Suzanne! Yes, the fact that The Three Musketeers was filmed there definitely made it more interesting. But the fact that it was part of the World War was amazing too!

    1. Ah, all these underground mines do tend to be similar, don’t they? I found the salt mines in Berchtesgaden, Germany similar too, except for the structure! Maybe it’s the aura of the underground 😉

  5. Wow what a great experience. It’s great to see that they’ve turned this into a museum/tourist attraction. I could never imagine having to work in a mine. Scares to begebus out of me.

    1. Yes, it must have been dreadfully hard work for the miners. It’s really good that mines around the world have modernized, except for some countries.

  6. Awesome. Floating on a underground lake, inside a mountain, thats underneath another lake – and in the beautiful Austrian countryside. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience and introducing it. We will have to do this when we visit Austria.

  7. I love underground tours and like someone already said in the comments, it reminds me a bit of the salt mine tour in Poland. It’s a little creepy to enter what’s basically a dark hole but I feel a bit more relaxed once I’m there.

  8. Oh, so this is the one you’re talking about! Yes, it does look like the cave grotto in Neuschwanstein! I guess it’s a European thing? Ha! And wow, riding a boat down a lake under another in the Austian mountains?? Did I get that right? I can’t quite imagine it, but it sounds awesome!

  9. What an interesting attraction and that’s nice that you were able to squeeze in time to go to Seegrotte before you leave. I am a bit claustrophobic so I am not sure if that’ll be something I’d try myself. But if you’re in Vienna, might as well take advantage of the sights!! I need to check out that other post you were talking about!

    1. Ah, that’s bad. But it’s quite airy once you get down there. And I hope you get the chance to read the Mayerling post. Writing about my sis and the coffin was fun! (Except when it was scary .)

    2. Ah, that’s bad. But it’s quite airy once you get down there. And I hope you get the chance to read the Mayerling post. Writing about my sis and the coffin was fun! (Except when it was scary.)

    1. Ah, no. They’d have to actually stop pumping the water out for that, and change the type of museum. The visitor count and type would change too if they did that.

    1. Thanks Alice. The boat ride was good. The only other underground boat ride I’ve been on was at the Cuevas Drach in Majorca, Spain, but that was hardly a 1 minute ride. This on the other hand was longer and filled with more stories.

  10. This is really interesting! I love hearing about new places to visit, and I certainly have not heard of this one! Having a musuem inside a mountain / underground is something I haven’t come across before. I did once find christmas scenes inside a cave in the UK but that’s about as close as I can get! 😉

  11. This sounds so cool – interesting combo of caves plus WWII history! I’m also really curious how it always stays the same temp down there, if you ever find out, please let me know.

  12. I like how this was actually a bargain trip and yet it ended up so much more interesting than just taking the public trains.

    Thank you for sharing & happy continued travels!
    C

  13. Awesome post – so informative too, I had no idea Europe had such a gigantic underground lake. Also that mine looks freaky, I’m usually pretty fearless but I have a weird thing about tunnels :\

    1. Thanks Serena! Yeah, it was a pretty big lake, but only upto 25 feet deep I think. The mine isn’t that scary when you compare it to catacombs, is it?

  14. Oh lord I envy you the ability to do this tour it looks so interesting. My claustrophia would kick in big time and the slide nope can’t go there..lol…but I can live vicariously through your photos and what a great way to get around cheaply.

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