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The top caves to visit in Hungary
Hungary is famous for its natural wonders from national parks, valleys and rivers to mountains, lakes and caves. We tend to forget about the beautiful natural treasures beneath the ground, so let’s look at some of the most beautiful caves and cave systems nobody should miss!
The Aggtelek Karst
The Aggtelek Karst cavern system is located in the north-eastern corner of the country, geographically connected to the Slovakian karst. It consists of 1,200 known caves out of which 280 open on the Hungarian side. It is one of the most famous classical karstic regions and it became part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1996. The caves were formed roughly 2 million years ago. Most of the cave formations were created by flowing water as the heavy streams acted as solvents and abrasives on the limestone. Many researchers believe that these caves were first discovered by archaic humans.
One of the greatest caves in the system is the Baradla Cave, which is the longest cave in Hungary. It used to be the longest known cave system in the world for a long time, until the early 20th century. Other marvellous caves of the Aggtelek Karst are the Vass Imre Cave, the Szabadság Cave and the Béke Cave – which is the largest fully explored perennial stream cave in Hungary. The Alsó-Mountain Plateau is also a special part of the region with 90 vertical caves – also known as potholes. The largest and most spectacular cave on the Plateau is the Meteor Cave.
The Aggtelek National Park is undoubtedly one of the most famous stalactite caves in Europe with its unique cave system and natural assets. The National Park was established to protect these treasured natural gifts – including the karst formations and caves. The conservation of the area began in the late 1970s and was later recognized as a national park.
Szemlő-Mountain and Pál-Valley Cave
The cave system of Szemlő-Mountain is a popular tourist attraction, as well as a popular choice for families and schools. The cave system is situated in Budapest, so it is really easy to approach from and from around the capital city. Besides discovering all the miracles, the cave holds, visitors can also learn about the cave’s history and visit an interactive exhibition. The cave itself is 2,200 metres long and is placed under protection as one of the most valuable natural treasures in Budapest. It offers various spectacular forms, several spacious passages and is richly decorated with mineral precipitations. The hiking route in the cave is a comfortable 250 metres long concrete sidewalk with stairs. Visitors can learn about the pisolite precipitations and gypsum crystal – which are unique findings in Europe. The walls are abundantly covered by precipitations and the illumination of the walls enhances the beauty of the cave passages.
The air in the cave is clear and dust-free, so even people suffering from asthma and respiratory diseases can find treatment there. The tour begins with some of the most important caves of the Buda Hills, with an all through the year 12 degrees Celsius temperature all the way. The 40-minute tour is easily doable with small children, but in the chilly temperature, warmer clothing and hiking boots are recommended.
Another incredible cave system in the capital city is in the suburbs of Budapest in the Duna-Ipoly National Park – the Pál-Valley Cave. It was discovered in 1904 and has been open for visitors since 1919. This cave is most famous for its spectacular dripstones and narrow corridors. The route is 500 metres long and it takes visitors through the most amazing stone formations, shiny calcium crystals and prints of primaeval shells. The cave’s temperature is 11 degrees Celsius all year long. Visitors can purchase a combined ticket, valid to visit both the Szemlő-Mountain Cave and the Pál-Valley Cave.
The cave of Abaliget
The cave of Abaliget is located in South-Hungary in Baranya County and is the biggest and longest cave in the Mecsek-Mountain. It is a strictly protected area and even though 80,000 people visit the natural wonder every year, the cave has managed to preserve its beauty. Visitors can admire the miracles of the cave systems on well-built concrete roads and enjoy the benefits of the cave. It has been operating as a “healing cave” since 2000 so people with respiratory problems can seek treatment there. The cave is entered through an active cave passage filled with 75 cm deep water. The walls at the entrance show spectacular corrosive and erosive forms. The main passage is full of impressive dripstones. The cave’s entrance is located in the Bat Museum and research station dedicated to studying the local bats. There are 41 different types of bats living in the cave, some of which visitors can spot while touring the location.
Tapolca Lake Cave
The cave system of Tapolca was discovered by accident in 1903 and turned out to be an approximately 14-million-year-old cave. This unique attraction is the only cave in Central Europe that can be observed and toured from sitting in boats. The cave’s temperature is 20 degrees Celsius, perfect for a light summer tour, as visitors can sail a trail of 300 metres while admiring the wonderful walls of the cave. This popular site of the Balaton Uplands National Park attracts thousands of visitors each week being one of the most spectacular and unique destinations for those interested in caves, history and nature.
by Kitti Bába
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