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Caves and Caverns of Istria
About half of the territory of the Republic of Croatia consists of karst terrain. This type of relief is characterized by soluble rocks, which lead to numerous pits and depressions in the landscape. That’s why the whole of Croatia is abundant with various sinkholes, caves, and caverns, underground “holes” that preserve its richness: namely, 70% of the water reserves of the Republic of Croatia are found in the karst underground, along with approximately 40% of all Croatian endemic species.
In this text, we will present some of the most famous caves and caverns that you can visit in Istria and get to know at least a part of this underground magic.
One of the most famous and visited caves in Istria is the Baredine Cave, located near the village of Nova Vas. The cave is 300 meters long, goes down to 132 meters in depth, and is fully developed and equipped for sightseeing. It has five enchanting halls filled with numerous cave decorations, many of which resemble people. One of them is the “statue” of the shepherdess Milka, a character from a well-known legend associated with the cave. According to the legend, a nobleman from Poreč fell in love with the poor Milka, but his mother did not approve of their love and ordered her subjects to kill Milka. They threw her into the cave, and the nobleman, in despair, rode away and disappeared. The legend says that Milka roams the cave searching for her nobleman.
In addition to its underground structures, the Baredine Cave is known as the home of the olm, a cave-dwelling salamander, also known as the human fish.
Located near Brtonigla, the Mramornica Cave boasts the title of one of the largest caves in Istria. It has been known since ancient times, with the first records dating back to the 18th century. It is adorned with colorful stalactites and stalagmites of astonishing dimensions – some of them are over 10 meters long. In fact, it is a large underground chamber with a developed pathway that provides a view of the inaccessible parts of this Istrian beauty.
The karst terrain is full of disappearing rivers, and one of them is the Pazinčica River. In its disappearing and resurfacing, the river has created a sinkhole, within which lies the Pazin Cave. This cave also contains water and is the home of two underground lakes. It should be emphasized that the entire sinkhole is a protected landscape, and the cave is a natural speleological object not intended for mass or independent visits but exclusively for visits with the guidance of speleologists. Nevertheless, if you dare to visit, you will encounter an underground pathway, which, in one daring section, is crossed by zip line.
FEŠTINI KINGDOM CAVE
This underground kingdom in the vicinity of Žminj is, in fact, a cave. The word “kingdom” in the name originates from – children. Children from the surrounding villages, fascinated by the beauty of the cave, often came to play in it and called it their kingdom. This royal hall is adorned with numerous stalactites and stalagmites named after objects they resemble, such as a wizard’s hat or bat wings, which you can explore while walking along the now well-maintained pathway.
The cave has preserved its childlike spirit – today, at its entrance, there are numerous activities for children.
These are just some of the many underground karst forms found in Istria. If you decide to explore the underground world, keep in mind that it is cold down there – when it’s hot outside during the summer, these underground passages and chambers require thicker clothing as temperatures range from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. And for your underground adventures, it’s best to secure safe above-ground accommodation, which you can find on the Molo Longo agency’s website.
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