14 July 2011 – 14 August 2011 – Scarisoara Cave is closed!
Situated in the Apuseni Mountains almost 40 km away from the town of Campeni, in the North-Western part of the district of Alba, in the commune of Garda de Sus, Scarisoara Cave is one of the largest ice caves in Romania (it holds the world’s second largest glacier; the largest in the world is in Slovakia).
One cannot say precisely the date when the cave was discovered, but it is mentioned in 1863 by Adolt Schmididi, an Austrian geographer who made the first observations regarding the cave and also its first map. Declared a natural monument and a speleological reservation, the cave (situated at 1150 m altitude) is famous for its glacier that is older than 3000 years. The area of the glacier is 5500 square m and the ice layer alternates between 26 and 37 m in thickness.
Scarisoara Cave is 750 m long, but only 250 m of it may be visited. It’s 110 m deep, the entrance shaft is 50 m in diameter and 48 in depth and the access for tourists is done through a metallic ladder.
The cave has many sectors that have different names. Thus, right after the entrance one may see the Big Hall and afterwards The Church where there are more than 100 ice stalagmites, The Church being in fact the main touristic attraction. To the left of this hall, walking through a 70 m long gallery, one can reach both The Great Reservation and The Small Reservation. Visiting these sections is allowed only for scientific goals and with the agreement of the Speological Institute “Emil Racovita” in Cluj. The Gallery Maxim Pop lies at 105 m underground, which is the maximum depth of the cave. The other two sections of the cave are The Cathedral and Sanziana’s Palace, but they don’t contain ice.
How come the ice never melts?
Scarisoara Cave was formed during The Ice Age when the mountains in which it is nowadays situated were covered with snow and ice. The cave has only one opening in the upper part and so the air currents are formed that keep the ice still solid.
In winter, the air temperature in the cave oscillates the same way it does at its entrance; in summer, the temperature reaches up to 1 Celsius degree and that’s why an ice layer in the floor of the Big Hall is melted, but only a few cm.
The old stories tell that in the cave a dragon used to live in ancient times, which the inhabitants used to call Solomat. The dragon used to steal a beautiful girl, either in the New Years’ Eve or in the night before Girls’ Fare at Gaina and he used to hide them in an ice palace that was never seen by the inhabitants.
Another legend says that, there used to be two water basins that were full of water all the time. They were situated behind the lime formation called nowadays “La Brazi”. It is said that the person that kneeled before the basins, uncovered his/her face, drank the water and made a wish, that wish would come true. The only condition for that to happen was that he/she had the obligation not to tell anyone the wish he/she made.
THE VISITATON is done with the help of a guide after paying an amount of money at the entrance. Groups of 20-50 persons can visit the cave according to this program: 9:00 am, 10:20 am, 11:40 am, 13:00pm, 14:20 pm, 15:40 pm, 17:00 pm.