Have you ever imagined spending the summer in a place that’s got it all? Beautiful sea, amazing blue lagoons, challenging peaks, fairy woods, mystic hills, snow under the hot summer sun and so many hidden wonders you can’t even count? Well, Romania is such a place.
Some things can’t be described in words and the writer needs real images to help her expose the beauties that stole her heart so long ago. I miss these places and I miss their stories. Each place has a legend, something from illo tempore that breathes to the present and makes the traveler step carefully on each path.
There is no place in Romania that doesn’t hold a gem waiting to be discovered and yet we know so little about these wonders. It’s my intention to reveal all I know about my country, one step at a time.
Did you know that the Carpathians hold the largest ice cave in Southeastern Europe and the second largest in the world after the Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves in Austria? This cave is on Romanian territory, in the county of Bihor, part of the mountain chain in Carpathians called the Apuseni Mountains.
The cave is 1165 meters above the sea level; it is 105 m deep and 720 m long. The entrance, an impressive sinkhole, has 60 m diameter and descends 48 m, leading you to the body of the cave where you will walk on 70000 cubic meters of ice (20 m thick). Wear warm clothes and good shoes when you go in, because while outside you could “burn” under the hot summer sun (which in Romania leads often to temperatures above 35°C), the temperature on the glacier in the cave is constantly below 0°C.
Romanians gave beautiful names to each of the galleries in the cave: Palatul Sanzienii (The Fairy’s Palace), The Church, the New Church, the Cathedral and so on. As to why they named the galleries so, you’ll have to let your imagination flow. Obviously Palatul Sanzienii is the most beautiful gallery in the cave, with beautiful limestone concretional forms.
While in the cave you’ll probably encounter bats and some small ice beetles called Pholeuon prozerpinae glaciale. Although a Rupicapra skeleton was discovered in the ice, there are low chances that you will encounter other animals in the cave.
You can visit the cave each day between 9:00-17:00. Once again, remember that the temperatures in the cave are lower than outside. Walking on ice is not the easiest thing either. The atmospheric pressure is heavy so the cave is not suitable for people with health problems.
If you spend the night in the region, be sure to book in time a room at the Scarisoara Hostel, as there are only 10 rooms available (firstname.lastname@example.org). The hostel is 750 m away from the cave, and aside accommodation it also offers riding in the summer and sleigh rides in the winter. There are two other caves to visit in the region: Coiba Mare and Vartop, but about these… another time.