It’s not quite in Cluj, but this place is definitely worth a mention! Explore the natural wonders of the Apuseni Mountains, a karst region, visiting Scarisoara cave. The cave is formed by Jurassic calcareous rocks (150 million years old). A river once flowed on the surface causing the lime to gradually melt. As it did so, the water got underground, creating a cavity. This was in turn filled with ice during an ice age, 4,000 years ago. The climate became warmer, but the glacier did not disappear, as it was supplied with a new layer of ice every winter1.

Scarisoara cave - Alba CountyIt is located at 154 km from Cluj-Napoca, and it you can reach it by taking DN1/E81 to Turda > DN75 to Câmpeni > Gârda de Sus. Another route is Oradea > Beiuş > Ştei > Lunca Village > Arieseni (DN75) > Gârda. Once you arrive in the village, take the path to the top of the mountain at 1,165m altitude. Descend on the metal stairs along the abrupt vertical walls of the 50m deep shaft. At it’s bottom lies the entrance to the glacier. Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites await to be discovered.

Scarisoara cave - Alba County

‘First mentioned in 1863 by the Austrian geographer Arnold Schmidl, who made some observations and the first map of the cave, it was later explored by the Romanian scientist and speleologist Emil Racoviță between 1921 and 1923, who mentioned it and its origin in his 1927 work Speleology. It is 105 m deep and 720 m long, and the entrance shaft (60 m in diameter and 48 m in depth) gives access through metal stairs to a large chamber, (108 m long, 78 m wide) – The Big Hall. From this point three openings lead to The Church (in front, with over 100 stalagmites), Great Reservation, Coman Gallery (left) and Little Reservation (right). The part that tourists can visit includes the entrance shaft, The Big Hall and The Church, the other chambers,which can be visited only with the agreement of the Speological Institute of Cluj-Napoca, being reserved for scientists.’

1 – article in ‘Discovery’ Magazine, Romania

2 – Steve Kokker, Cathryn Kemp, in ‘Romania and Moldova’, (2004)

Visiting

  • entry fee 7 lei/person for adults, free for children under 7
  • carry a warm coat even in summer because the temperature is low in the cave
  • tourists access the cave in groups, with a guide
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