The Caves of Aggtelek (UNESCO Site)
The Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst is a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of 712 caves spread out over a total area of 55,800 ha (138,000 acres) along the border of Hungary and Slovakia. This UNESCO World Heritage site consists of Aggtelek, Szendrő-Rudabánya Hill, and Esztramos Hill in Hungary, and Dobšinská Ice Cave, Koniar plateau, Plešivec plateau, and neighbourhood of Silica and Jasov in Slovakia.
This amazing underground world can be visited for light, one-hour tours, half-day more adventurous tours, or a number of variations in Aggtelek’s six caves open to the public. Guests are accompanied by expert guides. The Park Directorate organises 5 separate tours in 3 caves, among which the Baradla Cave is perhaps the most well-known. The public are encouraged and invited to explore two sections of the stunning larger Baradla Cave, as well as the two smaller Rákóczi and Imre Vass Caves; rightly considered the pearls of the national park.
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Caves in details:
Baradla-Domica Cave complex is 21 km (13 mi) long with approximately one fourth of that on the Slovak side and the rest in the Hungary. The first written mention of Baradla cave dates back to 1549 and from 1920 it serves as a tourist attraction. The cave was inhabited as far as 5000 BC and is an important archeological site of Bükk Culture.
Gombasek Cave was discovered in 1951 with 530 out of its 1,525 m (5,003 ft) opened to the public from 1955. The cave is also experimentally used for "speleotherapy" as a sanatorium, focused on airway diseases thanks to constant temperature of 9 °C (48 °F), high humidity of 98% and favorable microclimate.
Dobšiná Ice Cave was added to the list of components of this World Heritage Site only in the year 2000. The cave was discovered in 1870 by Eugen Ruffinyi, though the entrance was known long before. Being open to the public just one year after its discovery, in 1887 it became the first electrically lit cave in the world. Average temperature is −1 °C (30 °F) and relative humidity between 96 and 99%. This cave is among the most beautiful and the most richly decorated ice caves in the world.
Although Ochtinská Aragonite Cave is just 300 m (980 ft) long with a tourist circuit not longer than 230 m (750 ft), it is famous for its rare aragonite filling since there are only three aragonite caves discovered in the world so far. In the so-called Milky Way Hall, the main attraction of the cave, white branches and clusters of aragonite shine like stars in the Milky Way. The cave was discovered in 1954 and opened to the public in 1972. Temperature in the cave is around 7 °C (45 °F) with relative humidity between 92 and 97%.
Jasovská Cave was partly opened for the public in 1846, making it the oldest publicly accessible cave in Slovakia. The lower parts of the cave were discovered in 1922 to 1924. More than one third of its 2,148 m (7,047 ft) total length is open to the public. Paleolithic and Neolithic archeological artifacts were found in the cave together with those of Hallstatt Culture.
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