Magyar

Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst caves

Aggtelek Karst
Aggtelek National Park
Eger region

The cave system, located 236 kilometres from Budapest and crossing the Hungarian-Slovak border, is a uniquely spectacular region of Northern Hungary that has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1995.

The Aggtelek National Park occupies over 20,000 hectares on the Aggtelek Karst, the part of the Gömör–Torna Karst located in Hungary. Roughly 1,200 caverns have been discovered in the area of the Gömör–Torna Karst, of which 273 are in Hungary, within the borders of the Aggtelek National Park. The most famous of these are probably the Baradla-Domica Caverns.

Adventure in ancient times

The longest cave in Hungary and in the temperate zone is the Baradla Cavern, which winds for 25 kilometres, while the 5.6 kilometre part running under Slovakia goes by the name of Domica. Geological data put the beginning of the formation of the cave system at about two million years ago. The water of the streams dug, abraded and dissolved the cavities and caverns and then the lime deposit of the dripping water slowly built the stalactites of varying shapes that fascinate visitors to this day. Like today’s visitors, their shapes inspired the imagination of the explorers who discovered them, which is how they got expressive names like Dragonhead, Tiger, Mother-in-Law's Tongue, Columned Chamber or Giants’ Hall. The Concert Hall, with its excellent acoustics and stunning spectacles, hosts classical and popular music concerts to this day.

The archaeological finds in the Baradla Cavern and other neighbouring caverns are telling of the fact that these caves were used as a refuge as far back as prehistoric times. Archaeologists have unearthed gold jewellery and fighting equipment from the early Iron Age, as well as tools and earthenware made of stone and animal bone from the New Stone Age, which was 6-7,000 years ago. The cave system includes several other caverns open to the public, such as the Imre Vass Cave, known for its Orange Torrent, the Peace Cave, providing relief to those suffering from respiratory diseases, or the Rákóczi Cave, known for its fabulous underwater lakes. There is also a cave formed by the waters breaking up from the depths and a vertical shaft cave, also known as a sinkhole, carved out by seeping water. One example is the Vecsembükk shaft cave.

 

 

Special wildlife

The caves form a unique ecosystem, with the almost sterile air hidden under the surface in the World Heritage Site providing a home for more than 500 cave-dwelling and cave-loving animal species, many of which can only be found here. Guided cave tours of 2.5 or even seven hours leave from Aggtelek or Jósvafő. Near the caverns, there are also marked hiking trails at ground level. Following these will offer you the chance to get to know the flora and fauna of the karst surface, but also get a glimpse into the life of nearby villages and see the hidden, ancient church ruins. A yellow path indicates the 7-kilometer Baradla Educational Trail between Aggtelek and Jósvafő, which can be completed in about three hours, while the Tohonya-Kuriszlán Educational Trail around Jósvafő is about a six-hour walk. Families and groups of children will enjoy the Fürkész (‘scouting’ in Hungarian) Educational Trail marked in orange, while the 12-stop Szádvár Educational Trail around Szögliget will allow you to observe the wildlife of the surrounding forests as well as the ruins of Szádvár Castle. Make sure you don’t miss the Tengerszem (Tarn) Lake and the Aggtelek Lake, while the ruined cloister of the Pauline Order and the early medieval church in Tornaszentandrás also promise an unparalleled experience.

 

 

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