Location: Rabisha, Vidin Province Map
Total length: 2.5 km (1.5 mi)
Magura Cave is situated near village of Rabisha and 18 km from
Belogradchik in the North West Bulgaria. It is one of the
largest and most interesting underground systems in Bulgaria. It
consists of the main gallery and three side tunnels at an
overall length of 2500 meters in length. Magura Cave was formed
at least 15 millions years ago and the process of geologic
erosion continues to this day.
Magura Cave is famous for its prehistoric cave art and remains of the human occupation since late Epipaleolithic Age and Neolithic Age. It depicts various scenes from lives of ancient people including hunters on hunting trails, people dancing, various animals and other things that were important for the residents of the Magura Cave. Additionally archeologists who dug in the area discovered one of the oldest solar calendars ever to be discovered in Bulgaria and overall Europe. Apparently ancient people held five important festivals over a course of a year that ancients believed lasted 366 days. Given the age of the Magura Cave finding it is amazing that they managed to keep such a good record of the astronomical progression of the year.
Judging by animal remains cave hyenas and cave bears frequently stayed in Magura Cave for shelter and security. Humans it seems had a different idea of who is to own this nice piece of property. They managed to establish a permanent settlement and depict scenes from their daily lives as well as religious ceremonies. The cave was abandoned in favor of more comfortable living in houses, but we have evidence that people often ventured and explored the cave in the Roman times as well as medieval. It takes about 5 hours to explore 3 km (2 mi) of the total length. Temperature here stays at 12 C or 56 F all year round so you might want to take some warm cloths with you. This unique microclimate allows parts of the cave to be used as a storage for local wines. Magura's largest room is used occasionally for concerts.
It is located on the southern slope of the karst hill Rabishka Mogila, Western Fore-Balkans. It is located about 18 km northwest of the town of Belogradchik and about 1.5 km northwest of the village of Rabisha.
Detection and research
It is formed by karst processes in thick-layer bottom-bed gray-white limestones. It is one of the largest Bulgarian caves. Its exit is called the Gatekeeper. Some halls are colossal in size. Separate halls are the Triumphal Hall, the Field, the Harmana, the Bat Gallery, the Shooting Range, the Picture Gallery, the Ominous Gallery, the Sun Hall, the Stalacton Hall, the Fallen Pine Hall, the Poplar Hall, the Throne Hall. All halls are connected by galleries and cave tunnels, there are many stalactites, stalagmites and stalactons, and in the Triumphal Hall there is a small lake. Magura has a constant temperature of 12 ° C. The total length of its galleries is 2500 m.
Bones of a cave bear, a cave hyena and others were found in the cave. On the walls you can see paintings from several historical epochs, made with guano (bat manure). The earliest drawings are from the Late Paleolithic, as well as from the Neolithic; the most recent are from the Bronze Age and were painted between 3000 and 1200 BC. The drawings depict mainly hunting scenes, a solar-lunar calendar, a fertility scene and individual drawings. Some are relief - due to the natural erosion of the rock below them. The imported microorganisms from the external environment, the constant lighting (due to which mold is formed) and the intervention of the people destroy most of the paintings and for a long time this gallery was closed.
Bats in the cave
Magura is the most important cave for bats in all of Northwestern Bulgaria. It is inhabited all year round by a total of 8 species, all priority for conservation throughout Europe:
Great horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)
Small horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
Southern horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale)
Nightingale (Myotis blythii)
Long-toed nightingale (Myotis capaccinii)
The long-toed nightingale and southern horseshoe bat found in the cave are included in the World Red List. In addition to more than 2,000 wintering bats of several species, a colony of more than 450 small horseshoe bats has been registered here during the winter - a record number for the country. On the upper floor above the Concert Hall (inaccessible without the use of speleo-techniques) there is a horizontal, dry gallery, where large summer colonies of several species breed.
The cave is a national tourist site - №14 of the Hundred National Tourist Sites.
On May 3, 1960, the cave and the area around it with an area of 71 hectares were declared a natural landmark.
The largest inland, tectonic lake in Bulgaria is located near the cave - Rabishkoto Lake.
The branch of the cave produces sparkling wine due to the ideal conditions - very close to those in the Champagne region.