The “Seegrotte” near Hinterbrühl in Lower Austria, about 30 kilometers away from Vienna, is an underground cave system. In fact it is the largest subterranean lake in Europe. Today visitors may tour the former mine and take a boat ride across the lake.
History of the Seegrotte Hinterbrühl
In 1912 a blasting operation in the gypsum mine Hinterbrühl went wrong. Over 20 million litres of water flooded the lower levels of the mine. This incident formed the largest underground lake in Europe.
As a consequence the mine closed for years until Friedrich Fischer, a Viennese businessman, bought the flooded mine in 1918. He first tried to start an amusement establishment in the mine and later a mushroom culture. Both plans failed because of the low temperatures down there. In the early 1930s electricity became available in the tunnels. 1932 the grotto reopened as a show mine to the public.
In World War II German military forces confiscated the “Seegrotte Hinterbrühl” due the fact that the underground location assured best protection against enemy bombardement. They pumped out the water and installed a concrete floor. Than they used the drained grotto as a secure storage facility for grease and cultural artifacts. In 1944 the German company Heinkel built an aircraft factory inside the mine tunnels. About 2.000 people worked here on the secret Heinkel HE 162 Salamander jet aircraft, one of the first jet-propelled fighters of the world.
Today’s impact of the mine
After WWII the grotto reopened as a tourist attraction like it was before, and you can see a model of the Heinkel plane and some original parts of it in the mine.
In 1993 the Seegrotte Hinterbrühl was used as a film set for Walt Disney’s film “The Three Musketeers” with Charlie Sheen & Kiefer Sutherland.
If you are in Vienna someday and want to give a bit variety to shopping and city sightseeing, this location may be interesting for you. In hot summer days it’s refreshingly cold down there. I may promise you an extraordinary experience for your family and kids.
Taking pictures is allowed, but please choose a good camera with a large sensor, since you will have to ramp up ISO to get short exposure times. That’s especially important when taking shots on the moving boat!
All the following shots were done with the Fuji X100T. Read my short insights about this camera here.
Please don’t steal my images – just kindly ask, if you want to use one of them. All rights reserved.