We greatly hope that you will completely enjoy reading and learning from this article about 6 Captivating European Caves as much as we enjoyed creating it for you. It’s also our hope that it will increase your awareness and appreciation of such wonders.
Every region of the globe holds natural marvels to be certain. And these few obviously aren’t the only wonders of Nature to be found here. We do feel, however, that they represent excellent examples of the types of caves the adventurer can find here.
Padirac Cave Facts
- Leading off this article about 6 Captivating European Caves is the breathtaking marvel little-known outside of its region known as Padirac Cave.
- This title serves as only the english name for this breathtaking work of Nature. In the language of its region, however, it’s called gouffre de Padirac. In any human language, though, it remains a marvel of geology little-known outside of its immediate region.
- It’s presently unkown if prehistoric man knew of the marvel of natural proceses. The first known mentioning of the incredible site, however, occurred in the 3rd century. The first known habitation of the cave by humans took place during the 15th century.
- Likewise, the first recorded visitation of the location for the purpose of tourism took place on November 1, 1898. Following the success of that visit, the government of the country it lies in officially opened it for ongoing tourist visits on April 10, 1899.
- These actions began with the first known exploration of Padirac Cave in 1889, by Édouard-Alfred Martel, considered the father of modern speleology. Credit for opening it to the public, however, usually goes to Guy de Lavaur, who arrived there in 1938.
- The current method of access, visible here, came into existence in the 1930’s. Once in the marvelous cave, visitors can tour the site either on foot or by boat. For the moment, though, only about 5% of the many amazing galleries present are open to the public.
- Presently, this marvelous site represents the most frequently visited underground site in the country in which it formed. An average of 350,000 people visit it each year. The highest recorded yearly count, however, reached 460,000 in the year 1991.
Padirac Cave Physical Description
Though the wondrous Padirac Cave hasn’t garnered worldwide fame, that’s no reflection on the natural wonders to be found within its confines. That’s because, fame or no, it holds some of the most spectacular sights to be found in any such location on earth.
Those sights also take several different forms, as one quickly learns when visiting the site. Those discoveries begin with the opening one uses to access the cave. A highly circular opening in the surface of the earth exposes a truly visually impressive chasm.
This feature of the site further measures a respectable 338 ft (103m ) deep. Its diameter, meanwhile, measures an equally impressive 108 ft (33 m). The large circular opening further amazes visitors due to what greets them on its mainly limestone walls.
That’s because a verdant green mixture of plants and moss also line the sides of that chasm. At the bottom of that opening, visitors access several chambers, each with wonders of is own. These further lead to other chambers, many of which still remain unexplored.
A small underwater river still remains in Padirac Cave, allowing the boat access. A stunning collection of stalagmites and stalactites also staggers the mind, especially with their brilliant hues. Other forms of speleothems further appear throughout the beautiful cave.
Padirac Cave Location, Formation, and Geology
The visually stunning Padirac Cave formed in region of the globe already renowned for possessing many locations of great natural splendor. That’s due to the fact that this marvelous example of the works of geological processes formed on the continent of Europe.
More precisely, the site sits in what now constitutes the country of France, in the roughly southwestern portion of the continent. In France itself, the cave lies in the Lot department, in the Occitanie region. That puts it in the deep southern part of the country.
The formation of this marvel began with the depositing of the mineral limestone in the region. This action occurred during the Jurassic Period, around 170 million years ago. Tropical lagoons covered the area at that time, thereby depositing marine sediments.
That eventually turned into the limestone of the region. As water subsequently began flowing through this area, it began the carving out of the gorgeous chambers. Evidence further indicates that this process began somewhere between 1 – 2 million years ago.
The timeline for the breathtaking opening into Padirac Cave, however, remains a matter of debate. The leading theory, however, indicates that natural processes slowly dissolved the limestone of the roof. As the cave expanded, the roof eventually collapsed.
Among the many awe-inspiring features of the cave is a massive stalactite, named the Great Pendant. Its tip very nearly touches the flowing water. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the system, however, is a relatively massive cavern, named the Grand Dome.
Neptune’s Grotto Facts
- Appearing next in this listing of 6 Captivating European Caves comes the site that held a special cultural importance in the past, Neptune’s Grotto.
- While not the only sea cave in the area, most individuals who visit it consider the site to be by far the most beautiful. Somewhat incredibly, the discovery of this magnificent marvel of natural processes occurred accidentally in the 18th century.
- This discovery was, perhaps even more asstonishingly, effected by local fishermen working in the area. Further evidence, however, indicates that primitive man knew of the existence of this geological marvel, as well as several other similar sites locally.
- The cave opening itself formed at the base of extremely steep and rugged cliffs. Yet that opening to the grotto sits only slightly more than 3 ft (1 m) above sea level. The cave can therefore only be safely accessed during periods of calm wave activity.
- This true marvel of long-term natural processes can, at certain times, be accessed either by boat or a stairway carved into the cliff face itself. This beautiful site, now known as Neptune’s Grotto, was also once used as a habitat for the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
- Sadly, however, that species now faces extinction and no longer inhabits the region. It nevertheless remains oft-visited. That’s because, as a result of its natural beauty, the site now serves as an extremely popular destination for tourists visiting the area.
Neptune’s Grotto Physical Description
Not surprisingly, the mesmerizing Neptune’s Grotto serves as a classic example of what makes sea caves beautiful and fascinating. The grotto itself extends more than 2.5 mi (4 km ) in length. Inside, an array of stalactites and stalagmites greet visitors with their beauty.
Several passages of varying lengths and height also exist within the cave system. To the astonishment of those who visit the site, more awesome sights await them. That’s due to the fact that, among other features, a comparatively large saltwater lake resides within the grotto.
This truly surprising lake itself, furthermore, actually measures an impressive 394 ft (120 m) in length. It also sits at sea level. The depth varies, but averages about 29.5 ft (9 m). The breathtaking Neptune’s Grotto has still more remarkable facets to its appeal.
This includes the fact that it has a maximum width of 82 ft (25 m). A regular influx of seawater via wave activity maintains the lovely, shallow lake. Adding to the distinctive beauty of the magical location, a large stalagmite protrudes from the approximate center of the lake.
Neptune’s Grotto Location, Formation, and History
Neptune’s Grotto formed in a region itself considered quite picturesque. That’s because the natural wonder formed on the beautiful island of Sardinia, in Italy, in Europe. For a variety of reasons, the stunning location derives its name from the Roman god of the sea, Neptune.
The surrounding limestone cliffs also tower an impressive 360 ft (110 m) in height. These local formations also contain several other sea caves as well as this marvel. Since these cliffs formed during the Cretaceous Period, the sea has had time to carve out the cave system.
Evidence further indicates that the caves and grottoes have existed as we now know them for roughly two million years. Since its rediscovery in the 18th century, however, the magnificent Neptune’s Grotto has stood out from other natural wonders of the region.
The breathtaking cave system has also, and quite rightly, gained great fame for its natural beauty. Today, an impressive tens of thousands of tourists visit the stunning location annually. Sadly, this poses problems for those dedicated to preserving the natural marvel.
Fortunately, protective measures have been put in place for just that reason. Firstly, access to the full extent of the grotto and cave system remains limited. Therefore, only certified speleologists may explore the full extent of its dimensions, for its ongoing preservation.
Fingal’s Cave Facts
- Lisiting in the third position in this compendium of 6 Captivating European Caves, though only due to random selection, comes the site known as Fingal’s Cave.
- Perhaps most notably, the incredibly stunning location represents one of the true natural wonders of the entire world. The magnificent site perfectly exemplifies the aura of mystery and magic so frequently associated with the country of Scotland.
- The seemingly magical site additionally holds other appeals to many individuals fortunate enough to behold it, as well. That’s due to the fact that this particular formation remains a staggering marvel of geology unlike any existing anywhere else.
- First of all, the awesome wonder of Nature formed over a great period of time as a mind-boggling example of what science calls a sea-cave. Secondly, this truly impressive formation occurred on the uninhabited island known as Staffs (Staffordshire).
- The natural wonders don’t stop there, however. That’s because, this isolated location, itself a beautiful site, also forms part of the Inner Hebrides. The amazing Fingal’s Cave actually naturally formed entirely from jointed hexagonal basalt columns.
- The remarkable feature also contains yet another marvel. It perpetually remains partially filled by the sea. Finally, the amazingly unique structure of the columns also formed long ago. This formation occurred as a result of rapidly cooling lava flows.
Fingal’s Cave Physical Description
The dazzling Fingal’s Cave holds the bragging rights to many impressive features. For one, it possesses a rather large arched entrance, relative to its other dimensions. This, however, is also followed immediately by a much narrower passage into the rest of the chamber.
This comparatively large entrance also measures a truly impressive 66 ft ( 20 m) in height. Yet, its astonishing entrance does not represent the only remarkable feature to be found in this location. That’s because the ethereal natural cave itself has a width of about 40 ft (12 m).
In addition to these already remarkable statistics, the floor of the cave continually remains covered in water to a depth of roughly 25 ft (7.6 m). Due to its dimensions, the marvel of Nature conceals within it yet another attraction. This one creates a hard to believe effect.
That holds true because of a naturally occuring sound pattern. That’s the echoes produced by the waves create a cathedral effect. This natural effect has further been described as hauntingly beautiful by numerous visitors who have experienced amazing Fingal’s Cave.
Fingal’s Cave Formation and History
As incomprehensible as it may sound, the incredible Fingal’s Cave formed in the very distant past. More precisely, it formed entirely from a lava flow during the ancient Paleocene Era. The majority of experts also now believe it’s formation links to another wonder.
That’s due to the existence of evidence that indicates that the same flow that formed the remarkable hexagonal basalt columns here also formed another remarkable feature, the Giant’s Causeway. The highly uniquely shaped columns formed due to cracking.
That action occurred naturally during the cooling process itself, which itself took place over a great span of time. As these cooled, the cracks gradually extended, and formed the hexagonal columns seen in the cross-section. Later, these became eroded by wave action.
Due to its great distinctiveness, many consider the breathtaking Fingal’s Cave to be among the most memorable sights in Europe. The cave also now forms part of a National Nature Reserve. In fact, it’s one that locals named after the hero of an 18th-century poem.
Presently, it remains unclear to historians when local residents first discovered the beautiful cave. Much debate rages over this particular point. The location first came to the attention of the English-speaking world after being seen by renowned naturalist Sir Joseph Banks in 1772.
Devetashka Cave Facts
- Next up among our choices for inclusion in this article about 6 Captivating European Caves is the marvel of Nature known as Devetashka Cave.
- The simple term for this cave serves as the name of an incredible site. To be more precise, in fact, the term names a visually remarkable cave. Significant evidence also that indicates yet another astounding fact about this amazing location exists.
- That’s the fact that this incredible site has seen lengthy human habitation. Evidence places this dating back for tens of thousands of years. The extremely impressive cave additionally remains famous for a very specific and highly unique reason.
- Its fame occurs due to the presence of the seven differently sized holes which line its high roof. These natural openings run along its length. As a result, these allow sunlight to penetrate to the central hall, as well as to parts of its two separate fields.
- The comparatively large entrance to the remarkable cave measures about 115 ft (35 m) wide by 98 ft (30 m) in total height. The unique and picturesque Devetashka Cave now also, and quite understandably, constitutes a beautiful National Landmark.
- Thanks to concerted efforts, this fully deserved status has held true since June 1996. In addition, the site now holds a certain degree of fame. This holds true due to the fact that it has served as the site of several films, due to its distinctive beauty.
Devetashka Caves Twin Halls
Roughly 131 ft (40 m) into Devetashka Cave, another wonder greets the eye. In fact, the fabulous location then widens into an enormous hall. The magnificent ceiling of this stunning natural hall further reaches heights of as much as 328 ft (100 m) high in places.
Its overall measurements remain impressive. The entire hall has a total area equaling 25,833 sq ft (2,400 sq meters). Roughly 650 ft (200 m) from the opening of the cave, it also branches into two distinct fields. These two fields themselves possess different features.
The wonders of this cave never seem to end. The awesome sights do not end with these natural halls. There are other wondrous marvels of geology hiding within this site. Indeed, many stalagmites and stalactites also fill many parts of the stunning Devetashka Cave.
Devetashka Cave Location and Underground River
Devetashka Cave formed in a region of the world well known for its great natural beauty. That’s due to the fact that its formation occurred in what now forms the country of Bulgaria, in Europe. The stunning cave also lies situated close to the village of Devetaki.
Given its measurements, it forms one of the largest known caves in the country. Within the mind-blowing Devetashka Cave, both of the fields each have their own separate beauty. These sites also serve to draw the appreciative visitor to the location.
Firstly, the left field equals about 1.25 mi (2 km) in length. It also contains a small underground river flowing through it which empties into the Osam river. Secondly, the field to the right, unlike the one on the left, remains quite dry and generally very warm.
Finally, after the entrance, the field also widens out into an almost perfectly rectangular hall. How this occurred still remains something of a small mystery to scientists. This hall itself measures a remarkable size of about 49 feet (15 m) wide, and 164 feet (50 m) long.
Postojna Cave Facts
- This remarkable entry into this compilation of 6 Captivating European Caves, appearing in the 5th spot, bears the name of Postojna Cave.
- The term for this marvel serves as the name of a truly magnificent creation of time and geological processes. The name, however, also remains somewhat deceptive. That’s because the site actually comprises an entire cave system, not a single cavern.
- The first recorded mention of this natural marvel occurred in the latter part of the 17th century. The well known natural historian Johann Weikhard von Valvasor holds that footnote in history. He’s best known for his groundbreaking study of karst phenomena.
- Evidence indicates, though, that local populations knew of the existence of the site long before his discovery of it. This holds true since ancient writings, a form of graffiti, appear on some walls. Those writings, in fact, date back to at least the year 1213.
- Currently, this masterpiece of Nature forms one of the leading tourist sites of its region. It’s draws include its great natural beauty, modern history, and sheer physical size. That specific aspect holds true because it’s the second longest such system in the region.
- Due to these factors, Postojna Cave attracted almost 1 million visitors per year at its peak, in the 1990’s. Given its popularity, a permanent exhibition opened within its confines in 2014. This location includes the only known underground post office.
- It also represents a proposed addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For the moment, however, no action has yet been taken on that proposal. Given its beauty, as well as its role in the modern history of the region, it would make a fine addition.
Postojna Cave Physical Description
The majestic Postojna Cave distinguishes itself from many others in a marvelous manner. That’s because many can claim great size or remarkable visual appeal. This site, however, forms one of the minority that rightfully hold claim to both attributes.
In total, the mind-boggling system of caves and tunnels stretches for a known length or roughly 79,130 ft (24,120 m). Put in other terms, that equals approximately 14.99 mi (24.12 km) of underground beauty to explore. This could potentially be expanded.
The marvelous system itself comprises four currently known caverns. Each has its own distinctive beauty and splendor. This consists of such natural formations as stalactites and stalagmites, of course. It also includes others, known as draperies or curtains.
To top off this scenic marvel, a small river still flows through the depths of Postojna Cave. This flow of water, named the Pivka River, wends its way placidly through the many passageways of the system, even today. Its presence only augments the wonder of the site.
Postojna Cave Location, Formation, and Ecosystem
The geological splendor of Postojna Cave formed in a somewhat isolated portion of the globe. That region consists of the southern section of the continent of Europe. More precisely, it formed in the country that now bears the name of Slovenia.
Even more exactly, this places it surrounded by the countries of Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. Within that country itself, the site lies in the southwestern portion. Its name reflects its proximity to the town of Postojna, in the region of Inner Carniola.
This incredible system owes its existence to the same body of water that still flows through it today, the Pivka River. That flow enters what now forms the system through a subterranean tunnel, close to its entrance. The system has an average depth of 337 ft (115 m).
Over many millions of years, the actions of the river carved out the system as we currently know it. The age of the site, as it’s known today, measures roughly 2 million years. Many of the formations within its confines reflect this age with their relatively huge size.
During that time, furthermore, an entire ecosystem formed within its boundaries. A nearly constant temperature of 46.4 – 50 F (8 – 10 C) is naturally maintained inside. This, in turn, provides a home to some amazing endemic species of fauna.
Among those creatures in Postojna Cave is the Olm. That aquatic salamander lives only within the system. That makes it the only such restricted creature of its kind in Europe. In fact, this site’s considered by many to be the most biologically diverse cave on earth.
Melissani Cave Facts
- Again, only due to random selection, the stunning location known as Melissani Cave appears in the last spot in this article about 6 Captivating European Caves.
- Perhaps most significantly, the stunning site ranks as one of the most magnificent sites in its region of the globe. However, virtually no one outside of its area knows of. This breathtaking site formed on the island of Kefalonia, Greece, in Europe.
- The small Ionian Sea also lies to the east of this marvel, along with the Strait of Ithaca. This breathtaking location also holds a strong place in the hearts of the populace. That’s because it played an important role in the culture of the region in ancient times.
- That’s due to the fact that the location apparently served as a sacred place of worship to the ancient Greeks. In fact, one can still view the remains of a small temple, located within the confines of the cave. At some point people forgot about its existence.
- This lamentable loss for those who appreciate history held for countless centuries. Fortunately, however, a speleologist rediscovered the marvelous work of Nature in 1951. Now people can once again appreciate the splendor of Melissani Cave.
- Even more natural beauty surrounds the cave itself. That holds true due to the fact that the opening to the cave lies on the western slope of a mountain. As a result of this positioning, Mediterranean forests surround the feature, creating a beautiful sight.
Melissani Cave Hydrogeology
Without question, the stunningly magnificent formation we call Melissani Cave forms a truly beautiful marvel of geology. This statement may seem bold, but the accurate statement holds true in the minds of many. It further does so for several different reasons.
Firstly, the distinctive site has two separate chambers that contain a small lake. Even more impressively, that lake includes a little island in the middle. Secondly, this extremely fascinating construction of Nature also has some rather impressive measurements.
That’s partly due to the fact that the total length of the cave itself measures roughly 2.2 mi (3.5 km). Further, though, the cave’s measurements also include a 131 ft (40 m) width and a 118 ft (36 m) height. But, breathtaking Melissani Cave also contains other natural wonders.
In yet another addition to these highly prevalent marvels, the water in which the small island sits has its own beauty. The beautiful water within the cave remains a crystal clear blue-green in color and represents a uniquely special mix of freshwater and seawater.
In addition to all of this, numerous other fabulous geological features fill the interior of the beautiful cave. This remains the case because countless stalagmites and stalactites of varying sizes fill the interior. These only serve to add an air of other-world uniqueness to the site.
Melissani Cave Formation and History
To the great surprise of scientists, the formation of the staggering beauty known as Melissani Cave took place due to a process of naturally occurring rock dissolution. This highly effective shaping action occurred due to the long-term effects of flowing water.
Another impressive surprise awaits those who learn of the site, though. That’s because this dissolution action has not ceased, but continues at a slow but inexorable rate even today. However, this nature makes this wondrous site uncommon for yet another reason.
That’s due to the amazing fact that the nature of its origins and formation serves to set it apart from other caves around the world. In fact, this gorgeous location represents one of the very few large caves known to have formed via this particular process.
That distinction, though, remains the source of a moderate surprise for scientists, as well as a source for debate. When the ancient Greeks decided to use Melissani Cave as the home of a place of worship, they chose to dedicate it to two separate mythological figures.
Quite unfortunately for us, the precise reason for this dual dedication presently remains unknown to historians. For whatever reasons, the figures of worship at that time were the god Pan, and the nymph Melissani, for whom the cave was eventually named.
6 Captivating European Caves
We sincerely hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed reading this article abaout 6 Captivating European Caves. Clearly, awesome natural forces worked over enormous spans of time to create these visual masterpieces. And these are only a few of the sites to behold here.
Lamentably, though, these formations, and many others, both here around the globe, can be quite delicate. It’s up to each and every one of us to ensure that the actions of mankind do not damage or destroy these geological wonders. Our posterity deserves to enjoy them too!