If you wish to discover all the beauties of Slovakia, you should surely become familiar also with its subterranean parts. When we talk about caves, we can easily say that we are one of the richest countries in Europe. There are more than 4 000 of karstic formations on our territory, of which 44 are national monuments and 13 are accessible to public. Among them really exceptional ones, for example the Ochtinska Aragonite Cave, one of the only three caves of this kind in the world (the other two are in Mexico and Argentina), accessible to tourists.
Though long only three hundred meters, remains unique for its extraordinary beauty. The Milky Way Hall is considered to be the most beautiful part of the cave,where you can admire the typical oval formations. The spectacular aragonite cave near the city of Roznava is reported in the list of UNESCO World Heritage, together with other four caves (Domica, Silická, Gombasek, Jasovská), all of them situated in our important natural treasure – The Slovak Karst National Park.
An area near the borders with Hungary covers the regions of Gelnica, Roznava and also parts of the region Kosice. This unique zone in the south-east of Slovakia is one of the nine national parks of our country. It spreads on the surface of 362 km² and it is an important biosphere reserve with many species of animals and plants, but also with 1100 caves and abyss on its territory, from which 12 belong on the list of UNESCO World Heritage. Actually, in The Slovak Karst National Park you will find the longest system of caves within the Central Europe, which open doors to an astonishing subterranean world of our country.
The park is one of the most visited attractions by tourists and also by explorers, interested in fauna, flora, but mainly in karstic formations. The Slovak Karst is the part of a vast zone, which on the side of Hungary has name The National Park of Aggtelek. The longest cave of all the karstic zone is the cave Baradla with total length od 25 kilometres. Section of the cave on the Slovak side is long 6 kilometres and its name is Domica. It was uncovered in 1926, opened tu public in 1932 and it is created by two river courses – Styx and Domica. This attractive colourful cave is adorned in a special way by majestic stalactites – some of them with diameter of tree trunk – and is divided in several spaces. Among them the most impressive hall is called The House of Majko (after Jan Majko – discoverer of the cave).
The Jasovká cave near the village of Jasov, cca 25 kilometers from Kosice, was opened to public already in 1846, which makes it the oldest cave on the territory of Slovakia. It is famous also as an archaeological site with many discoveries from the era of paleolith and neolith. Today 852 meters of its interior are accessible. The cave Gombasek in the Slaná valley, discovered in 1951, hides an attractive itinerary of 530 metres. Except of its purpose in tourism the cave today is being used also for speleotherapy, as an special subterranean sanatorium, focused on respiratory diseases.
The Silická ice cave is rare just for the fact, that it had been created 2 000 years ago. It will captivate you already at its entry – an abyss in the altitude of 500 metres. The cave is overall long 1 100 meters and deep 110 meters. Also the archaeological discoveries from here have origins in the neolith and the bronze age. One of its biggest rareness is an ice cascade, 12 meters high. There is another cave in the Slovak Karst to mention – The Krásnohorská cave with its unique adornments, created by nature. Thanks to the enormous stalagmites the cave is actually mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records. The biggest majestic stalagmite has 12 meters in diameter and is 33,7 meters high.
In the Slovak Karst you can find of course not only the caves. It is a spectacular landscape with many endemic species of flowers to know, the attractive tourist routes to discover, the hills to mount, a ravishing region with its many charming canyons. Among them The canyon of Zádielska tiesňava near the borders with Hungary with its 250 metres high rocky walls is the sought after location of alpinist. Near the village of Jasov the ´must see´ is the closter of Jasov from 12th century with a charming garden, where you can see a giant sequoia 200 years old. Near the cluster are situated the Jasov ponds – a little paradise of peace amidst greenery.
Not straight in the Slovak Karst, but near at hand is located allegedly the most beautiful Slovak manor house –noble Betliar, of which story is bonded with the aristocratic Hungarian family of Andrassy. It is equally beautiful inside and outside, its rareness lies in its original furniture and expositions, well conserved from 18th century. Betliar is house of a precious bibliotheca with beyond 14 000 of books, fascinating Museum of culture, exposing then rural life of the Hungarian aristocracy. In surroundings you can lost in a ravishing forest park with various paths, summer houses, sculptures, babbling brooks… Actually, there´s no other better place than Betliar, where to bring to an end in a very noble way your visit of unapproachable, fairy-tale-ish region of The Slovak Karst.
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