For some people getting inside a cave sounds like a dreadful experience, be it for bats, darkness, the fear of the known or just the idea of getting dirty in a closed and unfamiliar space. Fortunately, that’s not the case with caves accustomed to tourists. Many of them are fully accommodated with bridges, safety rails, signs, proper lighting and additional attractions, such as colorful light shows, concerts and exhibitions. In other words, they are not only safe, but quite tourist-friendly even for families with young children.
If you’re among those people who are into exploring caves and natural wonders, here are the top 5 caves on Slavic territory that should be placed on your to-visit list.
Vjetrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina
This is the largest cave you’ll find on Bosnian grounds. Located deep within the Dinaric Alp mountains, the cave is mostly famous for its diverse fauna, which is actually endemic to the region and can’t be found outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Numerous legends surround the Vjetrenica cave, one of which claims that it’s the home of mythological nymph spirits from the Slavic folklore called villas. Shipwreck remains, a wildcat skeleton and many other interesting findings have been discovered here through the years. And here’s another interesting fact – Vjetrenica has been included in UNESCO’s tentative list with World Heritage sites since 2004.
Prohodna in Bulgaria
Apart from being the longest cave on Bulgarian soil, the Prohodna cave is also known for the two natural holes carved in its tunnel by nothing more than pure erosion. The holes’ symmetrical shape has led people to dub the natural phenomenon “The Eyes Of God” and thanks to these formations Prohodna is without a doubt among the top most Instagrammable caves on the Balkans. On top of that, the taller one of the cave’s two opposite entrances is a popular bungee-jumping spot for daredevils of all ages.
Optymistychna in Ukraine
The “optimistic” cave is a great example of the natural wonders found in Ukraine and for good reasons. Being the longest gymsum (you know, the stuff in chalk for blackboards, alabaster sculptures and so on) cave on the globe, it spans over 230 kilometers in length! That also makes it the longest cave in all of Eurasia and the 5th longest one in the whole world. The gympsum in it along with the limestone have formed beautifully shaped crystal rosettes in a plethora of colors, known as “desert roses”. The cave’s maze-like corridors, its impressive length and these crystalized clumps are most definitely worth the trip.
Skocjan Cave System in Slovenia
What makes the entire system of caves known as Skocjan so appealing to tourists is the fascinating depth and height (spanning up to 150 meters in height!), underground waters and unique karst formations. What Tolkien or LOTR fans in general will appreciate most is the fact that they can cosplay Gandalf on the Skocjan bridges in his famous Balrog scene from The Fellowship Of The Ring. UNESCO included the cave systems in their list of official World Heritage sites back in 1986 for its cultural and natural significance.
Kapova in Russia
Being the largest country in the world and all that, it should come to no surprise that Russia is packed with wondrous caves to delve into, literally. Kapova is well-known for the ensemble of cave paintings found in it, portraying various animals like bison, mammoth, horse, rhino and so forth. The drawings reportedly date back to the distant Upper Paleolithic Age, which means they are at least 16,000 years old! The cave itself was naturally carved into the Ural mountain range by the river Shul’gan. Its underground lakes can still be seen inside Kapova’s halls and galleries.