Underground Mysteries in Bavaria

People have been finding erdstalls, which are a type of tunnel located around Europe, in the hundreds and yet experts still can not agree upon their purpose or even their age. Der Spiegel recently ran an article on this mystery and the common theories that surround it.


Beate Greithanner, a dairy farmer, is barefoot as she walks up the lush meadows of the Doblberg, a mountain in Bavaria set against a backdrop of snow-capped Alpine peaks. She stops and points to a hole in the ground. “This is where the cow was grazing,” she says. “Suddenly she fell in, up to her hips.”

A crater had opened up beneath the unfortunate cow.

On the day after the bovine mishap, Greithanner’s husband Rudi examined the hole. He was curious, so he poked his head inside and craned his neck to peer into the darkness. Could it be a hiding place for some sort of treasure, he wondered? As he climbed into the hole to investigate, it turned out to be a narrow, damp tunnel that led diagonally into the earth, like the bowels of some giant dinosaur.

Suddenly the farmer could no longer hear anything from above. He panicked when he realized that it was getting difficult to breathe the stifling air — and quickly ended his brief exploration.

The Greithanners, from the town of Glonn near Munich, are the owners of a strange subterranean landmark. A labyrinth of vaults known as an “Erdstall” runs underneath their property. It is at least 25 meters (82 feet) long and likely stems from the Middle Ages. Some believe that it was built as a dwelling for helpful goblins…

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Dieter Ahlborn (left) and Andreas Mittermüller investigate an Erdstall in Doblberg.

[Image courtesy of Der Spiegel.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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