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.