Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hungarian Highlights - Part 19 (Pal-volgyi Cave)

Link to Part 18

The Pal-volgyi Cave was a huge treat for me. I didn't think I would get a chance to see it since it was a bit of a hike from my hotel. On my way back through Budapest, a few days before my return to Canada I decided that it didn't matter how far of a hike it was, I had to see it. Not seeing it might turn out to be a huge regret. It was a hot day and a challenging walk through the outskirts of the city (much of it uphill) but in the end my persistence paid off.

A little background on the cave - 40 million years ago Hungary was covered by a tropical sea. 15-20 million years ago the hills around Budapest began to elevate which created a network of faults and cracks below the surface. Eventually thermal water from deep below the earth found its way into the system of faults where it easily dissolved the limestone, eventually resulting in the caves we see today. Pal-volgyi Cave was discovered in 1904. (Another large cave nearby, which I didn't get a chance to see was found to be connected to Pal-volgyi quite recently, around 2001 if I recall). It served as an air raid shelter during World War II before being opened as a tourist attraction.

The Pal-volgyi Cave is the country's second longest cave system at around 19km. (The longest cave system in the world also lies in Hungary, although part of it stretches under neighboring Slovakia.) The cave temperature is a constant +11C, which I didn't mind at all given that it was at least +35C outside. During my tour, I got a kick out of the fact that I was the only one in the group (including the guide) that wore shorts.

Anyhow, without further ado, I give you some views of this wonder of nature.


Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

That looks really neat!

Way Way Up said...

The best part was when the guide turned off all the artificial lighting to give the group an idea of just how dark it was down there. A very claustrophobic feeling.