A cave is a natural cavity in the upper strata of the earth's crust, communicating with the surface of the earth by one or more outlets, passable for humans. The largest caves are complex systems of passages and halls, often with a total length of up to several tens of kilometers. The caves are an object of speleological study, and speleotourists make a significant contribution to the study of caves.
Caves are found in almost all adventure novels; this is an irreplaceable attribute of such works. Popular beliefs endowed these places with all kinds of evil spirits - from ancient nymphs to Scandinavian trolls.
In reality, such an exciting life rarely boils in caves - it is usually quiet and calm here, and stalactites are the main treasures. Their bizarre shapes give a special flavor to the underground voids. Let's talk about those caves that stand out among all others for their volumes and beauty, which arouses serious interest among tourists.
Melissine Cave, Greece. The secluded island of Kefallonia is the largest in the Ionian Sea. The atmosphere is appropriate here - luxurious landscapes with clean beaches, delicious wine and ancient monasteries. The island is famous for its caves, Melissina is the most beautiful of them. Only now inexorable time and nature made the cave full of holes - after the earthquake, the dome partially collapsed and now sunlight penetrates inside. However, this only embellished the underground decoration. Now the lake in the cave is shining through with the sun's rays, visitors can admire the clear water of an amazingly blue hue. But you can't drink it - it is salty, as it comes from the sea through hidden channels. This place long before tourists was chosen by the ancient Greek priests, who built here a sanctuary of the god Pan. There are a lot of legends around the cave, but how can you do without them in Greece? They say that the nymph Melissa drowned in an underground lake. The reason for her death is called either Pan's coldness towards her, or his betrayal, or maybe vice versa, persistent harassment. Once in this place, it will be best to ride a boat on the lake. The nearest town to the cave is Sami, and you can get here by bus from the capital of Kefallonia, the city of Argostoli.
Postojna Yama, Slovenia. The name "postojna" in translation from Slovenian means "inn", and "pit" does not need to be translated. "Postojna Jama" is the largest cave in all of Slovenia and one of the largest in Europe in general. Here, underground galleries are spread over 20 kilometers. Nature created such beauty in the depths of the Krasse limestone plateau with the help of the Pivka River. However, despite its name, the cave has never served as an inn. But already in the 19th century it was arranged specially for visiting tourists. Here electricity and the world's first cave railway appeared. The train travels 7 kilometers past unusual stalactites and stalagmites, the further journey has to be done on foot. The largest hall in the cave is called the Concert Hall, it is not surprising that it was here that even a whole conference of speleologists took place. Local water bodies are also interesting, because even living creatures - proteas - are found here. They have no eyes, they look like a mixture of an albino lizard and a worm. Proteus are distant relatives of salamanders. Having been here, stay on the Russian bridge, built after the First World War by the hands of Russian prisoners of war especially for the Austrians. Not far from here is the town of Postojna, but it will be from Ljubljana - the bus will get here in an hour.
Marble Cave, Ukraine. The plateau of the Crimean mountain Chatyr-Dag is literally strewn with wells, mines and caves. The most famous place here is the Marble Cave. Its popularity was brought about by its large size (length - more than two kilometers) and an attractive entourage. Visitors first enter a hall called the "Gallery of Fairy Tales". Here stalagmites rise, which resemble fantastic creatures in their appearance. You can see Santa Claus, the Mammoth and the Frog Princess. In the next hall - Palace, there is a miraculous royal couple created by nature together with their retinue. There is also a Reconstruction Hall in the cave. It is not entirely clear why it got such a name, because its main attraction is a huge stalagmite "The Tower that Fell". Tourists can take a look at the Tiger Pass gallery, where the bones of a cave bear were once found. All the local beauty can be bypassed in an hour; there are special paths for people among the dripstone formations. You can even find pearls in the cave, which are formed from small stalactites that fell into puddles of water. Although there is no value from pearls, it looks interesting. The closest to the cave is the village of Mramornoye, and you can get here by minibus from Yalta.
New Athos cave, Russia. This education in Abkhazia is one of the largest in the world. The cave is located inside the Apsarskaya mountain near the New Athos monastery, which it owes its name to. There are nine huge halls in the dungeon, the ceiling height reaches 100 meters. Inside the cave, in addition to lakes, there is also a mass of stalactites in the form of jellyfish, deer and fantastic creatures. This unusual place was discovered in the middle of the 20th century. A hole, called the Bottomless Pit, leads into the cave. Although it was known to the locals for a long time, it was only in 1961 that caver Givi Smyr decided to explore this place. It is much easier to get into the cave today than it was then. In summer, an underground railway runs here; tourists even jokingly call it the Abkhaz metro. The train runs between three stations, but then you will have to walk on foot, along specially laid out paths. Recently the halls were renamed for political reasons - the Hall of Georgian Cavers became the Hall of Cavers, and the Sukhumi Hall became the Hall named after Givi Smyr. Many tourists like to shout loudly in the center of the Apkhyarts hall - there is a great and loud echo here. The city of Novy Afon is the closest to the cave, and it would be better to get here from Sochi or Adler by minibus. On the way, the border with Abkhazia will be crossed in the area of the Psou River.
Kungurskaya cave, Russia. This place is the pride of the Urals, the cave itself is hidden in the depths of the Ice Mountain. It is quite cool here, in some remote grottoes the temperature does not rise above 0 at all, in winter it is all -30 ° C. Such a unique climate has led to the appearance of rather rare decorations - crystals from perennial ice. In order to make them even more mesmerizing, there is laser illumination, in particular under the arches of the Polar and Diamond grottoes. For tourists in the cave there are also ice sculptures created by man. But this place is not famous for icing, there are also quite traditional beauties - stalagmites, stalactites, and there are about 70 lakes here. The largest of them, the Big Lake, occupies almost one and a half square kilometers. However, the cold does not interfere with the presence of living beings in the cave, once a man lived here. They say that in the Krestovy grotto there was once a hermit's hut. A well dug here also testifies in favor of this theory, and someone's bast shoe was recently found here. In the Coral Grotto, there is a bar where you can celebrate the descent. The city closest to the cave is Kungur, and you can get here by bus from Yekaterinburg, the journey will take 5 hours.
Reed Flute Cave, China The ancient city of Guilin is located in the center of the Guangxi district. The area here is very picturesque, with bizarre limestone cliffs crowding around. Their companions are traditionally karst caves, of which there are many around Guilin. The most beautiful of them is the Reed Flute Cave. It got its name thanks to the reed growing near its entrance. It is believed that the most melodic flutes in China are obtained from the stems of this plant. Even if the dungeon is not huge - its length is only 500 meters, but nature here has worked hard on the interior design. And the Chinese themselves decided to complement the impressions with colorful lighting. As a result, the grottoes resemble palace gardens and halls, only the places of trees and columns here were occupied by stalagmites and stalactites. In one of the halls, tourists are attracted by an underground lake, and in the other, the giant stalactite Staff of the Dragon King is striking. It props up the vault of the Crystal Palace hall; it can simultaneously accommodate almost 1000 people. Guides assure that lost tourists can get lost in time. They say that one onlooker spent three years here, although it seemed to him that several hours had passed. The closest city to the cave is Guilin, while the journey from Beijing will take a day and a half.
Mammoth Cave, USA. It's funny, but mammoths have never been found in the cave. Just the English word mammoth also means "huge". Back in the 19th century, this cave was discovered in the state of Kentucky under the Flint Ridge. At first, saltpeter was mined in it, but one day the deposits were depleted and a certain businessman bought that place. He, with the help of his servants, tried to explore the depth of the dungeon, but failed. By the beginning of the 20th century, as many as 5 tiers and more than 200 grottoes, galleries and passages were discovered in the cave. Their total length was as much as 500 kilometers! The end of this underground country has not yet been found. But the Mammoth Cave cannot boast of special beauties or wonders. Its vaults are made of red limestone, which practically does not form incrustations, so there are fewer figured stalactites than in other caves, much more modest in size. The visual range is poor, but the places are called long sonorous - one of the corridors is called Broadway, and the underground river is called Styx. However, there is something that the guides are happy to demonstrate to guests - a stone statue that resembles the profile of the mother of President George Washington. So that tourists do not leave their autographs on the walls, a special Hall of Records is allocated to them. Respectable guests can leave not a wall inscription, but a venerable business card. From the largest city of Kentucky, Louisville, you can get here by car in 4-5 hours, and the city of Brownsville is the closest to the cave.