Mt. Apuseni caves, Romania’s most spectacular
Cave exploration enthusiasts may find in Alba County Europe’s most branched out cave, the largest and deepest underground lake in Romania, as well as the largest stalagmite dome in the country, all in the Mt. Apuseni, about which experts claim they top Europe’s karst relief, which explain their nickname of the Land of Stone.
Included in the Apuseni National Park are also Scarisoara, the largest glacier cave; Coiba Mare, the largest cave entrance; Hodobana, the most branched out cave, as well as the largest underground lake at Cave Zgurasti.
Also found in Alba County are Huda lui Papară, the longest cave in Trascau, the most uneven and the most difficult cave, with the largest hall, the highest ceiling, the longest underground river, hosting Europe’s largest population of bats (84,000 individuals of nine species).
The most important speleological tourist attraction in the area is the karst complex made up of the Scarisoara Glacier Cave, Avenul din Sesuri, Avenul Pojarul Politiei and Izbucul Cotetul Dobreştilor.
Five kilometres in length, the complex includes the first cave declared „a natural monument” in Romania, in 1938, the Scarisoara Glacier.
The most important natural landmark in Alba County, the Scarisoara Glacier is visited annually by thousands of foreign and Romanian tourists.
First electrified over a decade ago, the cave was equipped in 2012 with LED lighting.
The first mentions of the Scarisoara Glacier as a tourist landmark date from 1847 and 1857, when the wooden stairs in the access area were mentioned. This proves that the glacier was known and explored by locals who used ice and water in this dry area long before the first outside visitors.
The first scientific observations about this cave were published in 1861 by geologist Karl Peters. The first map of the cave was published by geographer Adolf Schmidl in 1863. The first monograph was published in 1927 by Emil Racovita, the Romanian researcher who in 1907 founded biospeleology as a science for the study of animals living in caves.
The floor of the cave’s Great Hall is taken up by a block of ice of a volume of 100,000 cubic metres, of a maximum thickness of 36 metres, which base layers are between 2,000 and 3,500 years old.
From the northwest end of the Great Hall, visitors can admire more than 100 perennial ice stalagmite formations.
The Scarisoara Glacier also hosts the largest repository of fossil ice in Romania formed more than three and a half millennia ago.(National News Agency AGERPRES)