The wealth of earth history on the Swabian Alb is amazing. If you tune in to the fascinating world at your feet, you come to understand: rock, landscape and the culture of mankind form an interdependent entity.
World of caves
The magic silence of a cave grounds you. Its stalactites grow at a pace measured in millennia. Only the steady trickle of water or the buzz of a bat undertones the silence. Life deep below the earth is embedded in the serene flow of time. A contrast to the bustling world on the surface.
You should experience a cave with all your senses. The show caves in the UNESCO Global Geopark Swabian Alb invite you to do so.
The Swabian Alb is incredibly rich in caves. Each cave tells its own story and teaches us humility and respect for the wonders of the earth. Mankind is in the process of exploring the secrets of this fabulous world below. Where do the cave labyrinths lead? Do undiscovered water resources still lie dormant here? What do the subterranean climate archives tell us?
Fascination of fossils
It leaves you awestruck when you touch a 200-million-year-old animal for the first time. You can't escape the magic of this messenger of prehistoric times. This is surely the fascination of the fossils that are so typical of the Swabian Alb. The best known is the ammonite, also featured in the Geopark logo.
Parts of Europe were flooded for a long time. Tropical temperatures prevailed. Not only did countless ammonites, the extinct relatives of the octopus, swarm in this Jurassic sea. It was also populated by predatory ichthyosaurs, marine crocodiles, filigree corals and swaying sea lilies.
At some time they turned to stone and tell us today about the life of that age. Just as looking through a keyhole, we catch a precious glimpse of this planet's past. We anticipate the magnificent flora and fauna, we are able to study them, and learn for the future. That is why the fossils of the Swabian Alb are invaluable for global geoscience and absolutely worth protecting.
You can admire fossils in the museums and information centres in the UNESCO Global Geopark Swabian Alb. There are still many exciting stories to tell about fossils. Got curious?
Ice age heritage
The Ice age art of the Swabian Alb is truly sensational. The very term sounds surreal and stands for a mystery: the earliest figurative artworks and musical instruments of mankind were found in the caves of the Alb.
Why did man first carve art objects from mammoth ivory and bone here? In the midst of the last, hostile ice age on our planet?
Archaeologists try to unravel these mysteries of human history and find new, exciting traces during excavations. In the information centres, show caves and museums in the UNESCO Global Geopark Swabian Alb, you can trace the fascinating life of the Ice Age people and marvel at world-famous original finds.
Rock shapes the landscape and outlasts the ages. It has an infinite amount to tell us. Limestone is the typical rock of the Swabian Alb and formed the marvellous karst landscape. The eternal cycle of rain and the dissolution of limestone created the caves at our feet, but also the typical sinkholes in the landscape. The turquoise spring ponds and bizarre waterfalls are also the results of this perpetual process.
Since prehistoric times, rock has also been a raw material that people have made use of. In the Ice Age, flints were collected, in the Middle Ages bean ore was mined and today we use lime from the Swabian Alb in cement.
Understanding the correlations between rocks, landscape and the history and culture of mankind means studying details. Many stone stories are waiting to be discovered. So keep your eyes open when hiking in the stunning UNESCO Global Geopark Swabian Alb.
Volcanoes and meteorites
Where herds of sheep currently graze peacefully, millions of years ago mighty explosions of water vapour shook the earth. Today the volcanic vents are lovely to look at as cone-shaped mountains or as maars. They are a silent reminder of volcanism on the Alb.
In the same age, two meteorites found their way onto the territory of today's Alb and struck with a force that one can hardly imagine. Rock vaporised and melted in seconds.
Life was wiped out for kilometres. After some time, the animal and plant world reclaimed its terrain. We can imagine their unique diversity in the snail sands of the Steinheim Basin, for example.
Whether greetings from outer space or messages from the earth's interior - natural disasters are part of the earth's life cycle and thus of human history. Our information centres and our journey into the Earth's history along geopoints tell this story.