Impressively Unique Caves: Popular Tourist Destinations

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This spring and summer, let’s travel around the world once again and let’s explore together different type (popular) of caves from around the world.

Nine different type of caves are presented on this particular article; aragonite cave, gypsum cave, sea cave, underwater cave, karst cave, limestone cave, cultural cave, lava tube cave and ice cave.

1. Aillwee Cave: Karst Cave

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Have you seen a waterfall in a cave? Aillwee Cave is one of the many thousands of ancient caves beneath the karst-landscape of the Burren in northwest Country Clare, Ireland. The name Aillwee is derived from the Irish Aill Bhuí which means yellow cliff. The complex consists of over a kilometer of passages leading into the heart of the mountain. Its features include an underground river and a waterfall as well as some large stalactites and stalagmites.

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2. Jeita Grotto: Karstic Limestone Cave

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This sculpture called “The Guardian of Time “is located outside the Jeita Grotto.

This spectacular cave called Jeita Grotto is a compound of interconnected karstic limestone caves in Lebanon located 20 kilometers (12 mi) north of Beirut in the Valley of Nahr al-Kalb (Dog River). This grotto complex is made up of two caves, upper galleries and a lower cave through which an underground river runs.

Lower Cave

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The lower gallery which has an overall length of 6,200 meters (20,000 ft) is located 60 meters (200 ft) below the upper gallery. It is traversed by a smooth underwater river and a lake {the “Dark Lake”).

Upper cave

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The Jeita upper cave has an overall length of 2,130 meters (7,000 ft) of which only 750 meters (2,500 ft) are accessible to visitors via a specially conceived walkway; access to the remainder of the cave was restricted to prevent ecological damage which may occur due to the flocking tourists. The upper cave contains a great concentration of a variety of crystallized formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, mushrooms, ponds, curtains and draperies. The longest stalactite in the world is located in Jeita’s White Chamber; it measures 8.2 meters (27 ft) long. The upper cave houses the world’s largest stalactite and is made of a series of chambers the largest of which has a maximum height of 120 meters (390 ft).

3. Grotta Gigante: Karst Cave

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Grotta Gigante or Giant Cave in English is a giant cave on the Italian side of the Trieste Karst. Its central cavern is 107m high, 65m wide and 260m long putting it in the 1995 Guinness World Records as the “world’s largest tourist cave”. The cave contains many large stalactites and stalagmites many of exceptional beauty. A feature of the stalagmites is their “dish-pile” appearance, formed by water dropping from up to 80 meters above and depositing calcium carbonate over a wide area.

4. Ox Bel Ha: Underwater Cave

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One of the most popular caves recently discovered is the Ox Bel Ha, a cave system in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is the longest known Underground River and underwater cave in the world. It is currently 172 km long as of 2008. The cave is perfect both for scuba divers and spelunkers.

5. Ochtinska Aragonite: Aragonite Cave

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Ochtinska Aragonite is a unique aragonite cave situated in southern Slovakia. Although only 300 m long, it is famous for its rare aragonite filling. There are only three aragonite caves discovered in the world so far. In the so-called Milky Way Hall, the main attraction of the cave, white branches and clusters of aragonite shine like stars in the Milky Way. The cave was discovered in 1954 by chance and opened to the public in 1972. Along with other caves of the Slovak Karst, it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as a component of Caves of Agletek Karst and Slovak Karst site.

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6. Postojna Cave: Karst Cave

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Postojna Cave is a 20,570 m long Karst cave system near Postojna, Slovenia. It is the longest cave system in the country as well as one of its top tourism sites. The caves were created by the Pivka River.

The caves are also home to the endemic olm, the largest trogloditic amphibian in the world. Part of the tour through the caves used to include a pool with some olms in it, though these have been removed recently due to the effect of flashes from visitngs tourists cameras had on the sensitive skin of the olms.

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The Concert Hall, known for its exceptional acoustics, has sufficient space for 10,000 people. Leading symphony orchestras, octets, and a variety of soloists perform here.

7. Cango Caves: Limestone Cave

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The Cango Caves are located in Precambrian limestone at the foothills of the Swartberg range in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The principal cave is one of the country’s finest, best known and most popular tourist caves and attracts many visitors from overseas.

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Although the extensive system of tunnels and chambers go on for over four kilometers, only about a quarter of this is open to visitors, who may proceed into the cave only in groups supervised by a guide. Tours are conducted at regular intervals on most days – there is a “Standard Tour” which takes an hour and an “Adventure Tour” which takes an hour and a half. The “Adventure Tour” consists of crawling through narrow passages and climbing up steep rock formations guided by small lights. The caves contain spectacular halls and grand limestone formations (on both tours) as well as some rather small passages on the Adventure Tour. The smallest passage that tourists will have to pass through on the Adventure Tour is just under 30 cm high at the exit.

8. Voronya Cave: World’s Deepest Cave

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The Voronya Cave aka Krubera-Voronia Cave, Cave of Kruber is the deepest known cave on Earth. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range, Georgia. It is part of the Arabika Cave System. The height difference in the cave is 2,191 (±9) meters. The same cave set the previous record for depth at 1,710 meters in 2001 by a Russian-Ukranian team. In 2004 the penetrated depth was increased on each of three expeditions. At that point the Ukrainian team crossed the -2000 m mark for the first time in the history of Speleology. In September 2007, a new, unexplored part was found by Alexandre Klimchouk, and the cave became even deeper. This expedition confirmed the depth of the cave which is now 2,191 (±9) meters deep.

9. Cathedral Caverns State Park: Alabama, USA

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Cathedral Caverns State Park is located within Woodville, Alabama city limits. The cave was first developed as an attraction by Jay Gurley in the late 1950s.The Cathedral Caverns entrance opening measures 128 feet (39.0 m) wide and 25 feet (7.6 m) high. The Caverns is approximately 11,000+ feet (3,350 m+) surveyed and explored cave with 8 feet (2.44 m) wide concrete walkways that are wheelchair accessible.

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Goliath is believed to be the world’s largest stalagmite column inside a commercial cave, standing 45 feet tall and 243 feet around. It is located in this cave.

10. Balver Höhle: Cultural Cave

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Balver Hohle is the biggest cultural cave in Europe. It is located in Balve, Germany.

The Balver Höhle was mentioned in the Thidrekssaga. Since 160 years the annual Schutzenfest is a part of the culture. In 1991 a fairy tale festival was installed by Festspiele Balver Höhle. In 1998 the Festspiele Balver Höhle performed their first oriental musical.

11. St Michael’s Cave: Limestone Cave

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St Michael’s Cave is the name given to a network of limestone caves located in the Upper Rock nature Reserve of Gibraltar, at a height of over 300 meters above sea level. Its name is derived from a similar grotto in Monte Gargano near the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’ Angelo in Apulia, Italy, where the archangel Michael is said to have appeared. It is the most visited of the more than 150 caves found inside the Rock of Gibraltar, receiving almost 1,000,000 visitors a year

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The largest of the chambers, named the “Cathedral Cave”, currently serves as an auditorium. It was converted due to the chamber’s natural acoustic properties, which according to experts, enhances and blends tones into a uniform and faithful rendition of sound. It is equipped with a concrete stage and has a seating capacity of over 100. St. Michael’s Cave can be reached by car, taxi, cable car or by foot.

12. Cave Bath: Natural Cave

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The Cave Bath is a thermal bath in a natural cave in Hungary and is unique in Europe. The thermal water (temperature: 30°C, 86°F) is reputed to cure pain in the joints, and since it has lower salt content than most thermal waters (around 1000 mg/liter), people can bathe in it for much longer, practically for an unlimited amount of time. The Cave Bath can be visited all year long except for January.

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13. Víðgelmir: Lava Tube Cave

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Víðgelmir is one of the longest (1.585 m) caves in Iceland and largest (148.000 m³) lava tube cave in the world. It’s situated in Western Iceland. The roof of the lava tube has collapsed, creating two large openings near its north end which are the only known entrances. The cave entrance is wide but narrows down in some places. An iron gate was installed at the first constriction in 1994 to preserve the delicate lava formations or speleothems which haven’t already been destroyed. Evidence of human habitation, probably dating to the Viking age, has been discovered in the cave and is preserved in the National Museum of Iceland. Long stretches of the cave floor are very rough and shouldn’t be navigated without a guide.

Lava tube caves are formed when a low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous and hard crust which thickens and forms a roof above the molten lava stream. When the eruption subsides, the still molten lava moving beneath the crust will continue to drain downhill, leaving an open lava tube cave.

14. Marble Arch Caves: Limestone Cave

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The Marble Arch Caves are a series of natural, limestone caves located in Northern Ireland. The Marble Arch Caves are a popular tourist attraction due to their accessibility and grandeur. The caves were opened to the public in 1985 following work to make them more accessible the previous year. Tourists can partake in a seventy-five minute long tour of the show caves during which they travel through the first part of the caves in a specially designed boat floating on the subterranean Cladagh River, before walking through the rest of the chambers.

15. Blue Grotto: Sea Cave

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The Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) is a noted sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri, Italy. Sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern.

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The Blue Grotto has become the emblem of the island of Capri. The grotto was known by the Romans, as proved by the antique statues which were found in the Grotto. This discovery, the remains of an ancient landing place and the work on an underground tunnel, create an image of a natural cavern adorned by statues. The grotto was known to the locals under the name of Gradola, after the nearby landing place of Gradola, but it was avoided because it was said to be inhabited by witches and monsters. The Blue Grotto was used by the emperor Tiberius as his private swimming pool.

16. Holloch Cave

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Holloch Cave is a 194km long cave situated between the river Muota and the area of the Pragelpass in the Valley of Muotha in Switzerland. It is also notable for having a depth of 939m. The initial exploration started in 1875 and was led by Alois Ulrich. A large part of the exploration of this cave was led by Alfred Bogli. The explored length of the cave increased from 25km in 1952 to 100km in 1968 (it was the first cave in the world where the explored length reached 100km.) Until 1970, it was thought to be the largest cave complex in the world, this title now thought to be held by Mammoth Cave National Park.

17. Optimisticeskaja: Gypsum Cave

Optimisticeskaja, meaning “optimistic” in Ukrainian, is a gypsum cave in Ukraine. As of 2005, it has 230 km of mapped passageways. By some other sources it is referred as having about 133 miles (214 kilometers) of surveyed passageways, that makes it the third-longest cave in the world, after Mammoth Cave and Jewel Cave) and the longest gypsum cave in the world. The entire cave lies under a 2-kilometer square area in a layer of Upper Tertiary gypsum that is less than 20 meters thick. The passages tend to be low and often choked with mud. They comprise a dense network on several levels, making Optimisticeskaja what is known as a “maze cave.”

18. Dobsinska Ice Cave: Ice Cave

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Dobsinska Ice Cave is an ice cave in Slovakia. It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as a part of Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst site. It lies 130 m above the Hnilec River, and the entrance is at an altitude of 970 m. The cave was discovered in was open to the public just one year after its discovery. And in 1887, it was the first electrically lit cave in Europe. The cave slowly descends from the entrance and with the northern orientation it cools off cave’s interior in winter, as the cold air falls down. In the summer, the warm air cannot fall down to the cave. Thus the annual temperature average stays around 0°C. The cave iced up, as this cycle repeated for many centuries.

Learn, explore and enjoy!!!!

For more interesting and unique caves see

Spectacular Caves From Around the World

The Most Popular caves in the Philippines

Five Holy Caves in the World

Spectacular Caves in the Philippines

For caves with historic importance see

Historically Significant Caves From Around the World

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