Jul 31

The Magura Cave (Pestera Magura)

The Magura Cave is located in close proximity of Rabisha village, a reason for which this natural monumets is also known as Rabisha Cave. If you are not familiar with the geographic position of this specific village, then it should be mentioned that the cave is situated at a 35 km distance from the well-known city Vidin.

The Magura Cave is one of the largest caves located on the bulgarian territory, comprising a multitude of galleries that stretch over 2600 m. There is a main passageway which divides into three galleries, each of enormous dimensions: 200 m in length, 50 m of width and more than 20 m in height.

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But the cave does not impress solely through its size. There are numerous calcarous formations such as stalagmites, stalactites, concretions of calcium salts, all being types of speleotherms specific for limestone caves. Some of these concretions are not only quite large in size but are also of immense beauty. The “Fallen Pine” is the largest stalagmite formation not solely from this specific cave, but from all of the caves located on the Bulgarian territory, at least from the ones that have been explored up to this point. In length, this stalagmite formation measures 11 m and in diameter, 6 m, at the base.

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Another characteristic of this limestone cave is the “pearl of the cave,” a special type of painting done in bat guano. These stone paintings have been created by means of multiple layers. Different details have been added throughout time, each characteristic for the specific period of time in which they have been added. Among the paintings encountered here one can find hunting men, dancing women, representations of labor instruments, of natural scenes, various symbols, and religious events etc.

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But the representations on the walls are by no means primitive. The ideas transposed into paintings clearly emphasize that the artists behind them were intelligent and spiritual individuals. Thus we can draw the conclusion that the cave is more of a temple, carrying all the markers of the ancient civilizations which had been in contact with this natural monument.

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It is quite interesting what contrasting points of view we have. On the one hand we look with admiration on the drawings and/or paintings which decorate the walls of caves because we see these as remnants of the past, as historical evidence of the former residents of the region. But on the other hand, we look down on any contemporary intervention on the natural monument because we consider it to be detrimental to the cave. And this position is justifiable taking into account that we usually deal with negative alterations. Information is passed on much easier nowadays, it is irelevent to inscribe it on walls.

In close proximity of the cave, visitors can find the Rabisha Lake, a tectonic lake which reaches 35-40 m in depth. The clear water of the lake allures tourists who come from all over the world to set up their tent on the banks of the lake and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere surrounding them.

Jul 30

The Polovragi Cave (Pestera Polovragi)

The Polovragi Cave is the “work of art” of Oltet River, a stream that had managed throughout the centuries to corrode the calcareous rocks of the Parang and Capatanii Mountains in its path. Situated in Polovragi Commune, in Gorj District, the cave is an important touristic attraction of Romania.

Only a mountainous relief with a diversified hydrological network can offer such beautiful monuments of nature. It is only natural to assume that the surroundings are mesmerizing.

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The path to Polovragi Cave takes the visitor close to nature as it goes up the straits, through the Polovragi Forest – an area protected under the law due to the Mediterranean vegetation and the edible chestnut tree encountered in this region. Leaving the forest behind and charging forward, the tourist will discover the Oltet Straits, which separate the Capatanii Mountain from and Parang Mountain.

The sensation you get while driving through this area is noteworthy. It is as if you are insignificant before the grandness of nature. The mountainous slopes on the sides seem to be closing in around you, making you admit the splendor of the environment.

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The remaining portion of road which gets you to your destination, namely to Polovragi Cave,  measures 200-300 m. The cave is not left unattended. There are iron gates installed at the entrance banning access unattended. There is a schedule which needs to be respected, namely that groups of people can enter the cave at one hour intervals. There is a toll that needs to be covered but the amount is quite small and you should let this become an inconvenience, especially since you will have something to feast your eyes on.

There is a guide who will briefly introduce the visitors to the dweller of the cave, namely the  Rhynophus bat, also known as the horseshoe bat, due to its shape. There are approximately 300 bats living here, so will have no problems in spotting at least one representative of the specie when visiting the Polovragi Cave.

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The temperature within the cave is lower, naturally, so it is advisable to bring along an extra shirt, especially if you don’t get along with the cold so well.

The humidity inside is of about 90% and the water still infiltrates through the walls, causing the so-called “weeping” of the cave.

Speleologists have mapped 10 km, this being the length of the area which has been transformed under the “carving work” performed by Oltet River (although according to other sources the length of the cave exceeds this number by much). However, the visible gallery of the cave measures  800 m – of which only 400 m are available for tourists. This portion has been home to many throughout time: Dacians, monks, and healers, the presence of each of them having been immortalized within the cave by means of distinctive symbols.

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Just to give an example, there have been numerous monks which have come here to live as ascetics in order to reach spiritual fulfillment, a practice they engaged in from the beginning of the 16th century up until  the 20th century (1968). In order to mark this moment in the life of the cave, there is a painting performed by one of the monks which represents a black silhouette – the symbol of death.

There are various geomorphological formations encountered in Polovragi Cave, such as stalactite formations, intermediate columns, domes, stalagmites, or basins. Some of them are quite impressive so you should take your time and admire each of them at a time. The floor is slippery and because of this there are many who give too much attention to the possibility of falling, that they sometimes forget to turns their heads to their left or to their right in order to see what the cave has to offer. Just keep in mind that no one is rushing you to finish the tour so you can take your time, walk slowly and analyze this wonder of nature.