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“Dark, eerie and interesting.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Castle Ruins & Velvet Cave

Castle Ruins & Velvet Cave
Daalhemerweg 27, Valkenburg, The Netherlands
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Ranked #1 of 13 Attractions in Valkenburg
Type: Ancient Ruins, Caverns/ Caves, Castles
Attraction Details
Leeds
Top Contributor
152 reviews 152 reviews
45 attraction reviews
Reviews in 70 cities Reviews in 70 cities
77 helpful votes 77 helpful votes
“Dark, eerie and interesting.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2013

The name above the entrance to the attraction is Gemeentegegrot. These were described as caves but are more like tunnels. They are unlit and the guide leads the visitors with a lantern. Luckily the ground underfoot is mostly flat but it can be a little unnerving if you lag too far behind the guide. The 'caves' have numerous paintings and carvings and each seems to have its own history. Because of the time constraints it wasn't possible to see every painting but to do so would have taken hours. Our guide was excellent and told the story of the caves not only with knowledge but with some humour. If you intend to take photographs make sure you set your camera up before entering the caves as it is too dark to make any adjustments once inside.

Visited September 2013
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124 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
London
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
43 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
“Excellent guides for the cave and interesting ruins”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2013

We chose to take the caves walking tour plus castle ruins, you can just opt for the castle if you have had enough of caves. There are quite a few round town! There is a lift access to the castle ruins if needed. The entrance to the caves tour is a short walk further along the road.
Beware, although the guides speak English, the tour is exclusively in Dutch. They do give you a piece of paper with an English translation of the points of interest, excellent English, well written. So take your torch with you, otherwise you won't have a clue as to what you are seeing!
Only the guide has a lamp and offers the opportunity to stand in the pitch black to experience what its like. You can opt to stay with the lamp if you have small kids, or big kids, who don't like the dark! And it certainly is black in there, easy to understand how people got lost and died.
Throughout the years the miners have been digging out the marlstone and the caves have then been decorated with the most amazing artwork and sculptures. Make sure you look back as well as forward, with the aid of your torch you'll see some excellent artistry.
Its quite cool in there too, take a jacket or warm clothing, by the end of the walk, even in the heatwave, you'll be chilled. The walk finally comes upwards to the castle ruins. The heat and sunshine hits you forcibly as you emerge from the bowels of the earth.
The castle ruins are interesting, good views over the town and surrounding countryside. Information boards all around the site give the history and are in English as well as Dutch.
There is a restaurant with friendly and helpful staff. The menu is in Dutch but the staff are happy to help with translations. The food was excellent and we ate here a couple of times during our stay in Valkenburg..

Visited August 2013
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Exeter, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
159 reviews 159 reviews
39 attraction reviews
Reviews in 93 cities Reviews in 93 cities
87 helpful votes 87 helpful votes
“Fascinating”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2013

An interesting tour combined with the castle ruins. 40 minutes or so underground with Dutch commentary. At one stage the guide disappears with the light after telling the tale of the two young men who in 1999 entered another cave, broke their torch and were sadly not found alive

Visited August 2013
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Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“ruines are ruins but the cave visit is worth the while”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2013

the caves are very nice and the guide's explanation are really fun to accompagny the visit, a sweather is advised as it is freezing cold in these caves

Visited August 2013
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St. Albans, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Dark and in Dutch”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2013

Despite the 9 Euro price, it is worthwhile going down the caves as this gives you access to the castle ruins from which the view is amazing. The caves are the result of years of mining sandstone for the building material for the castle. (Note that the temperature in the caves is a constant 10 deg C. I wore a short sleeved shirt and just survived as it had been very hot outside. I recommend a jacket or similar.)

There are 5Km of tunnels, all of them quite broad and accessible. The floor is mostly even and there is only one flight of steps - short, broad and not steep. The tour takes about an hour. We were the only English visitors and (not unreasonably) the guide spoke only Dutch. There is a information sheet printed in English available - make sure you get one. You can read it in about 3 minutes but the guide drags all the detail out. The interior of the caves is famous for the wall drawings done from the 18th to the 20th century and WW2 that depict the workings of the mine, local legends and actual history. There is also carvings of a "dinosaur" (or at least what people thought a dinosaur might look like) after some fossils were found in the 19th century.

The main failing of the caves is the lack of any illumination other than the guide's lamp. This means that once the guide has had you crowd around some picture or exhibit, he walks off and blackness descends - you have no choice but to follow him. If you have a torch, take it and make sure your camera has enough battery power for flash photos.

I also noted that nobody "counted us all in and counted us all out." This lack of basic safety is a little ironic as one recent true stories is of two boys who, in 1993, died on hypothermia and thirst having been lost in the utter blackness of the caves for 4 days.

Despite the high entry price, the tour ends with a blatant speel from the guide begging and pressurising for a tip - there are even notices on the wall encouraging you to place some money in his hand. A bonus is free stones from the mine for the children - yes, that's right... free stones...

The guided tour stops at the exit from the caves and you are left to continue a very short distance to the castle. The castle is mainly worth seeing for the view. The last owner of the castle blew it up to save it from the invaders (Napoleon B, IIRC) This magnificent strategy destroyed the only castle on a hill in The Netherlands (but then, how many hills has The Netherlands got?) You can learn all there is to learn about the castle from the free information sheet and the notices in Dutch and English at various points of the ruins and you can do this in about 20 minutes to half an hour at the most.

Moving from the castle, there is a café and toilets on the way out.

If you're in Valkenburg, you are duty bound to make this visit. The castle dominates the town and natural curiosity will take you there. If it's raining the caves are a safe bet.

Visited August 2013
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