7 mysterious caves in Bulgaria

As a very mountainous country, Bulgaria cannot complain from a lack of interesting caves. Formed by nature and usually shaped by thousands of years of human and animal habitation, Bulgaria’s caves will take you on a journey into a fantastic underworld that is quite unlike life on the surface.

From a cave that looks just like a female vulva to an underground wine tasting chamber, kashkaval tourist presents 7 mysterious caves in Bulgaria!

1. Minecraft in the real world: Devetashka Cave

Minecraft in the real world: Devetashka Cave

Minecraft in the real world: Devetashka Cave. Photo credit: Martin Bonov.

With its massive halls and unreal gaps in the ceiling, the Devetashka Cave (Деветашка пещера) looks like a landscape straight out of a sandbox video game like Minecraft! The cave was discovered in 1921 near the village of Devetaki not far from Lovech in north central Bulgaria.

Due to its enormous size, it had been used by the Bulgarian state for storing foods and petrol before becoming a secretive military site. And in 2011, the Devetashka Cave was the setting for a few scenes from the star-studded Hollywood blockbuster The Expendables 2, making it famous worldwide.

2. Shaped like a vulva: Womb Cave

Shaped like a vulva: Utroba Cave

Shaped like a vulva: Utroba Cave. Photo credit: Ivo Filipov, Wikipedia.

Yes, you read that right, the Womb Cave (Утроба, Utroba) in the Rhodope Mountains bears an uncanny resemblance to the female genitalia! This is not exactly a coincidence though… there’s evidence that the cave’s opening was shaped by the ancient Thracians around 1000 BC. The cave hosted a Thracian sanctuary to female fertility at the time.

Incredibly, the Womb Cave is designed in such a way that a ray of sunlight enters the cave at such an angle that it goes into the rock womb and hits the middle of the altar directly, symbolically inseminating it. Feel like exploring this vulva-shaped cave? Then head for southeastern Bulgaria or specifically the isolated village of Nenkovo near Kardzhali.

3. The eyes of God: Prohodna Cave

The eyes of God: Prohodna Cave

The eyes of God: Prohodna Cave

Unlike the Utroba Cave, which was partially shaped by human activity, the highlight feature of the Prohodna Cave (Проходна) is entirely the work of nature. The two huge elongated holes in its ceiling look just like a pair of human eyes! And this impressive formation is rightfully named The Eyes of God.

What’s more, with a ceiling some 56 metres tall, the entrance of the Prohodna Cave has turned into an attractive destination for bungee jumping! If you fancy a jump or just want to see those mesmerizing eyes, you’ll find the cave near Karlukovo in north central Bulgaria. Or book a bungee jump in Prohodna with adventures.bg!

4. Bats, wine and cave paintings: Magura Cave

Bats, wine and cave paintings: Magura Cave

Bats, wine and cave paintings: Magura Cave

Located near Belogradchik in the Bulgarian Northwest, the Magura Cave (Магура) is famous for its colony of bats, for the quality Bulgarian wine aging in its chilly chambers and for its prehistoric cave paintings. It’s easy to spot the bats hanging from the ceiling or the casks of Magura wine, which you can also get to taste inside the cave!

But the parts of the cave decorated with cave paintings are closed for visitors, unfortunately. And what a shame, because the cave hosts 750 Bronze Age paintings depicting hunting as well as religious topics, all of which were created using bat guano.

5. Orpheus descends into the underworld: Devil’s Throat Cave

Orpheus descends into the underworld: Devil’s Throat Cave

Orpheus descends into the underworld: Devil’s Throat Cave. Photo credit: Nenko Lazarov, Images from Bulgaria.

The Devil’s Throat Cave (Дяволското гърло, Dyavolskoto garlo) captures the attention not only with its poetic name, but also with what is claimed to be the highest underground waterfall in the Balkans! The cave is situated in the majestic Trigrad Gorge of the Rhodopes Mountains.

According to a popular legend based on Greek mythology, the Devil’s Throat Cave was the route which the famous bard Orpheus took as he descended into the Underworld in search of Eurydice, his wife and a daughter of Apollo.

6. Fantastic karst formations: Ledenika Cave

Fantastic karst formations: Ledenika Cave

Fantastic karst formations: Ledenika Cave

With its 10 underground halls, the Ledenika Cave (Леденика) is practically a small subterranean world populated by bizarre stalactites and other incredible cave formations. Because of their resemblance to animals or fictional characters, some of those have been given names like The Crocodile, The Giant’s Head, The Falcon or Santa Claus.

The Ledenika Cave lies among the vertical cliffs of the heart-stopping Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park in the vicinity of Vratsa. The cave has given its name to the nationally popular brand of beer Ledenika, produced in nearby Mezdra.

7. Ancient human habitat: Bacho Kiro Cave

Ancient human habitat: Bacho Kiro Cave

Ancient human habitat: Bacho Kiro Cave. Photo credit: Nanko Lazarov, Images from Bulgaria.

Located just next to the picturesque Dryanovo Monastery in central Bulgaria, the Bacho Kiro Cave (Бачо Киро) is the place where the earliest human remains in Bulgaria have been found. With the Aurignacian burials that have been discovered there, it ranks among Europe’s most important Paleolithic sites.

Human remains are not the only curious thing that has been discovered in the Bacho Kiro Cave. Researchers have also excavated the bones of a gigantic three-metre cave bear! The cave also hosts four bat species and some impressive karst formations.

8 thoughts on “7 mysterious caves in Bulgaria

  1. There is another notable cave. About 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Sofia, Brestnitza is a village of some 1000 residents whose claim to fame is the nearby Sueva Dupka Cave. The staff there is very protective not only of the cave itself, but of the park area all around. They are proud of this national natural resource and very much committed to its conservation.

    Sueva Dupka was discovered during the Ottoman Empire when two Bulgarian brothers hid themselves there, but the first serious study of the cave wasn’t undertaken until the early 1930s. Now named a national natural landmark, Sueva Dupka contains five main halls and several galleries. The cave is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and formations mimicking all sorts of animals, as the guide helpfully pointed out with his flashlight. The third hall is referred to as the Concert Hall due to its fantastic acoustics. Several choirs have sung here, but my son—then four years old and who had happily and spontaneously given unrequested free concerts incessantly throughout Sofia the summer before—absolutely refused to sing a note despite much encouragement from our guide and the entire group. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and skilled at pointing out formations interesting not only to children but to adults as well. When my son expressed interest at seeing a real bat, he was promptly taken to that part of the cave where bats have been sighted before.

    • Thanks for the suggestion and the detailed info about Saeva Dupka! I’ve personally visited the cave myself, but I decided to trim the list down to 7 so I can only include caves that have some standout features.

      Saeva Dupka is definitely a notable attraction though, as are the Yagodinska and Snezhanka caves in the Rhodopes and the Kozarnika cave in the Balkan Mountains. The latter is famous for its prehistoric art but is unfortunately not open for visitors.

  2. Hey Todor,

    that’s a great list! I love your subheads 😉

    Have you been to Uhlovitza? It’s by far my favourite cave in the Rhodopes! The whole area is unbelievable beautiful, you should check it 🙂

    Cheers,
    N.

  3. I don’t know that caves can be mysterious. But after reading the post my all doubts are cleared now. Thanks to the author to create such an interesting post. Keep up the good one

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