The Bear Grotto (Bjørnegrotten)
A group of Russian bears once lived in the forest in Odder. Today, the bears are long gone, and all that is left is the old grotto. But if you go for a walk in Rathlousdal Forest and you are quiet as a mouse… you might still hear a roar or two. Children LOVE to play bear in the ruins of the old zoo.
Visit a real bear grotto
Rathlousdal Forest is located in the southwestern outskirts of Odder. The forest is only a short walking distance away from the city centre and is a great suggestion for a local excursion in nature. Not least because of its greatest attraction, the Bear Grotto, which is very popular among children. The characteristic old building is now somewhat decayed, but it is still easy to see how the bears used to live. There is a bathing pool and a cave where the big teddy bears could hide. There are bars at the front of the bear grotto. They were used to protect the passers-by in the forest from the big animals. Remember to take a picture of the kids shaking the bars.
Why is there a bear grotto in the forest?
Rathlousdal Forest is named after the manor Rathlousdal, located in the southern edge of the forest. The manor has had quite a few colourful estate owners over time who have all contributed to shaping the area. One of them was Emil von Holstein-Rathlou who had a great personal interest in exotic animals. In 1878 he chose to open a zoo in the manor forest with free access for Odder’s inhabitants – to much delight of the local population. Here, trey had the chance to see red deer and kangaroos when walking through the forest. But the biggest attraction was two little bear cubs that von Holstein-Rathlou bought when visiting Russia. The cubs grew big quite fast, had cubs of their own and lived in the forest for 10 years until the estate owner was tired of taking care of them and closed the zoo.
Today, the bear grotto is the only evidence Odder’s old zoo.
A peculiar story is that the bears were fed on pancakes. So bring pancakes on the trip, so the children can really play the role of bear for a day.
How do I get to the Bear Grotto?
If you go to the bear grotto by car, you can park by the side of the road on Kongshusvej, where a small path leads into the forest. This is close to the spot where Kongshusvej meets Lundhoffvej. On foot, you can look forward to a two-kilometre-hike from the city centre. The nearest entrance to the forest is at Rathlousdals Allé. On our digital map, you can see the parking lot and suggestions for routes in the forest. You can follow the routes around forest via gps. If you are in the mood for a longer hike, we suggest combining Rathlousdal Forest with the nearby Vejlskoven Forest.