Friday, 17 December 2010
Fluweelengrot, Valkenberg, Netherlands
I've borrowed this photo as I do not have any external shots of the cave entrance. It was snowing quite hard, I had no umbrella or head gear and couldn't wait to get inside for some shelter. It certainly wasn't sunny like this, it's a shot over the top of the entrance to the caves.
On entering the caves, this scene greets you. I think each year has a different theme. This year's is around Charles Dickens.
There are two caves to visit in Valkenberg - this one is the Velvet Caves, a labyrinth of mysterious passages situated under the Castle Ruins, created around the year 1050 and are closely connected to the history of the Castle of Valkenburg. The blocks of marlstone extracted from the cave were used to construct the Castle of Valkenburg which resulted in an extensive labyrinth of ancient passages used as secret escape passages. It was discovered in 1937, would have originally enabled the knights and their warriors to secretly vanish from the castle in times of war, and attack the enemy from behind.
The Velvet Cave contains numerous mysteries and a treasure of impressive mural carvings, inscriptions, and exceptional sculptures in the soft marlstone walls, as well as a romantic refuge chapel dating back to the French occupation period. In World War II, during the occupation of the Germans, the cave served as a shelter for Jewish people, locals, and American troops.
Would you believe it - they even have a cafeteria inside and restaurant facilites!
Needless to say, we stopped here to recharge our batteries - read MORE gluhwein! Will upload pics of market stalls from the Velvet Caves in another post.