The Merseburg Kunstverein e.V. has taken it upon itself to make an underground treasure in Merseburg accessible to visitors. We discovered the labyrinthine passages known as the “Tiefer Keller” and enthusiastically returned to the earth’s surface.
Deep cellar – deep under Merseburg
The door opens and we enter the historic cellar vault “Tiefer Keller”. About 7.5 meters below Merseburg in the Middle Ages, the people of Merseburg created a system of vaults. These were used as a kind of giant refrigerator at that time. The origin of the cellar system is dated to the 13th century. Thus, the “Tiefer Keller” belongs to the oldest buildings in the city.
The vaults are lined with sandstone. This draws the water from the fresh air that enters the vaults through created air shafts. The temperature down here is 9-11 degrees all year round with a humidity of 85%. In other words, ideal conditions for cool storage.
It was not only Merseburg beer that was stored in the cellars. Other natural goods that reached Merseburg via the Via Regia trade route also found their place in the underground refrigerator. Soon the capacity of the rooms was no longer sufficient. More cellars were built and placed under the already existing cellars. So it happens that today the oldest vaults are located above the younger ones. In total, the people of Merseburg built 4 underground floors under their city.
For several years, the cellar system has been systematically explored on one’s own initiative. So far, more than 400 rooms have been discovered. Many of them have been built over or filled in, some served as air raid shelters for the population during the Second World War.
Today you can take part in a guided tour “Tiefer Keller”. During the tour you learn not only interesting things about the cellar system, but also about the history of Merseburg. For us completely surprising, one goes thereby not only by corridors and cellars, but visits an exhibition lying underground. Artists have placed their works of art here. For example, at the old underground well stands the Saalealf, which according to legend lives at the bottom of the Saale. Every year he demanded a human sacrifice. He was held responsible for floods and drowning of people.
After about an hour, we climb the steps and come back to daylight. I am a bit amazed, because we are standing about 30 meters from the entrance. Under the earth we have climbed up and down countless steps, passed long corridors and seen numerous cellars. I was of the opinion that we have walked almost to the other end of the city and now we are standing almost at the starting point. If I had explored the labyrinth “Deep Cellar” alone, I would have been hopelessly lost.
Visit to the Domgallery,
Above the cellar corridors is the Domgallery, an art store and an art café.
In the domgallery, changing exhibitions of works by various artists are shown and you can also buy the various art objects.
We were able to visit the modern and bright exhibition rooms and discover some beautiful paintings.
From the rooms you can look at the metal figures that figuratively illustrate the Merseburg spells.
Afterwards, we had a cool Merseburg Kellerbräu in the café. The beer was created following the tradition of the brewers in Merseburg. The bottom-fermented, somewhat malty-tasting and very drinkable beer is brewed in small quantities. On the label there is the following saying: “Already appreciated by Goethe, forgotten, reborn in the deep cellar and tested by Merseburgers”. Tested by Merseburgers is really true in this case. When it was decided to brew a beer in the Merseburg style, the people of Merseburg were asked to choose their favorite from 3 suggestions. The beer, as it is offered today, received the most approval.
Those who prefer to drink wine can also enjoy a Merseburg wine here. On the slope below the cathedral gallery, Merseburg’s winegrowing was revived in 2012. The harvested grapes are processed into a muscat wine, which is sold in small quantities.
We enjoyed the visit very much, thank you for the interesting insights into the cellars of Merseburg.
Merseburger Kunstverein e. V.
Tiefer Keller 3
Cellar tours every first Saturday of the month at 2:30 pm.
Groups possible at any time by appointment.
Phone: 03461 28 90 40 or 03461 28 99 23 2
Price per person: 5,- Euro
Disclosure: The visit and the guided tour “Tiefer Keller” were part of a press trip to the Saale-Unstrut region. Many thanks for the great impressions. The report corresponds to our own impressions and was written independently of our stay.