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Caves in Istria and Dalmatia - queens of the underground world

Caves in Istria and Dalmatia - queens of the underground world

Stalagmites, stalactites and wine

When I was a little girl, I loved to look at my grandma’s old photos. My favourite photo was the one of my grandpa, taken when he was in the army in Slovenia. He and his mates went to Postojna cave. Despite the fact that it was a small, dark photo, I fell in love with the stalagmites, stalactites and other magnificent formations. Maybe after reading this article, you too will become a cave lover.

Although Croatia, as a tourist destination, is most famous for its beautiful beaches and clear blue sea, there are numerous underground attractions to visit. To be precise, there are about ten thousand known caves in Croatia, 40 of them opened to visitors. All caves are protected by law, and you have to have a permit for research or for tourist purposes to visit them. Here is a short list of caves worth a visit while staying in Croatia.

The Baredine Cave, located near the village Nova Vas (Porec area) is a true gem of Istria. It is the first speleological locality opened in Istria in 1995. You can visit a 300 m long pathway up to 60 m below the ground. In the 5 beautifully decorated chambers you can see interesting and unusual forms, such as a very realistic statue of the Virgin Mary and a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There is also a sad love story, dating from the 13th century, connected to the cave. The nobleman Gabriel fell in love with the shepherdess Milka. Gabriel’s mother was not fond of the idea of her son marrying a shepherdess, and had her killed. Poor Milka was thrown into the Baredine cave. After her disappearance, Gabriel went searching for his loved one, but vanished into thin air. The story says that the petrified body of Milka is still in the cave, searching for her Gabriel.

: inside of a flowstone cave with stalactites which are reflected in the water

The spectacular Blue cave, located on the eastern side of the Bisevo Island is often described as one of the most beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea. The cave is most beautiful on sunny days, between 11 and 12 pm: the light blue color occurs when the sun rays enter through the water and are reflected from the limestone rocks at the bottom. This creates a breathtaking scene for the visitors and also explains the name of the cave. Access to the cave is possible with a small rowing boat. The cave is also suitable for diving.

a cave illuminated in different shades of blue with sheer rock walls and sea

The Pazin cave is really an attraction and will most definitely impress you, as it did the French author Jules Verne, who used it as a location for his novel “Mathias Sandorf”. Hundred meters underneath the medieval castle, the largest Istrian karst river Pazincica disappears into the crater. Pazincica forms numerous cascades, the most interesting being Pazinski and Zarecki krov. The cave can be explored through a 500 m long trail. For a deeper look, you can visit the cave with a team of speleologists, and the adrenaline junkies can try the zip-line over the cave.

The Odysseus cave is located close to the village Babino Polje, on the island Mljet, a favourite destination for everyone who is seeking a “Robinson Crusoe experience”. You can enter the egg-shaped cave only by boat (or swimming) and enjoy the exceptional lighting effects created by the sun reflections. In front of the cave is the Ogiran cliff. During high tides or strong southern winds, the cliff is completely covered with water and poses a threat to sailors. According to the legend, for this very reason, Odysseus had experienced shipwreck and took refuge in the cave. He was there enchanted by the ruler of the island, the nymph Calypso, and stayed on Mljet for 7 years.
Let’s make something clear, Mljet is a beautiful island, it will enchant you with its beauty. You do not need a nymph to want to stay there :)

low cave passage way, sheer rock walls and rocks arising out of the ocean

The Romualdo’s cave is located on the east side of the Lim Channel. This 105 m long cave was named after St. Romuald, a hermit who apparently spent several years in the cave. Religious processions were held in his honour until 1942. Today the cave is protected as a karst phenomenon and the habitat of the large bat, an endangered and legally protected species (in case you were wondering, bats are one of the most diverse mammal groups with more than 1300 species worldwide, but, they are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction). The cave is also interesting for paleoanthropological research. Not only were animal remains of extinct ice age animals found in the cave (among others, the cave bear, leopard and cave hyena), remains of early man, as well as his artefacts, were also found. Because of the wall drawings found there, the Romuald’s cave is known as the Croatian Altamira: the drawings are estimated to be 30 000 years old.

If you are still not sure if cave exploring is your thing, no need to worry, you can start by visiting the Cave bar More in Lapad, a bar nested deep inside a natural cavern. It’s a truly unique place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine.

Croatia is a beautiful country, and we all know that true beauty comes from the inside. Spend your holiday in one of our lovely villas, be adventures and discover the amazing wonders hidden beneath the surface!

Sanja Varovic

+385 1 222 70 50