Near the town of Nova Vas in Croatia is the Baredine Cave, where we can see magnificent formations of stalactites and stalagmites. One of the attractions during a visit to the cave is an underground lake located at the foot of a 66-meter gorge. The guided tour includes five rooms that are connected by stairs and paths.
WHERE THE NAME COMES FROM
The name Baredine means the area that surrounds the cave, so the Baredine Cave was given this name. Most likely, it comes from the word “Bared”, which in the local language means uncultivated land. Today, this term does not reflect reality in any way. Over the centuries, the industrious people of the region have transformed the surrounding land into fertile fields and removed rocks. The area that surrounds the cave are located olive gardens and vineyards.
ORIGIN OF THE CAVE
The karst terrain in which the cave was formed is marine sediments from the Cretaceous period (100 million years ago) covered with red soil called terra rossa. The underground part of the cave was formed by water movements during karst processes about 3.5 million years ago.
The cave is located in Croatia, in the northern part of Istria, near Nova Vas, between Poreč, Višnjan and Tar, about 5 km from the coast. The road leading from these places to the cave is marked with signs. There is a large parking lot for cars and buses next to the cave. The cave is surrounded by historical forts, ancient villas and medieval monasteries.
The entrance to the cave has a conical shape that widens at a depth of 15 meters and enters to the first hall. The cave is a treasure trove of stalactites, stalagmites and underground formations that were formed millions of years ago. In this way they formed spectacular crystalline formations, the most characteristic are the 10-meter “curtains”, the figure of the Virgin Mary, the shepherdess Milka, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Snowman, a “sculpture” that has become a trademark of the cave.
The Baredine Cave is 132 meters deep, with underground lakes at the bottom that are up to 30 meters deep. It consists of five large halls 60 meters deep and a crater 66 meters deep that leads to several underground lakes.
The cave is a protected geomorphological nature reserve.
The tour is with a guide (included in the price) speaking languages such as Croatian, Italian, German, English and Russian. The tour lasts about 40 minutes and consists of walking about 300 meters of trail through five illuminated by lamps “halls”.
Rules of the cave:
No smoking inside the cave.
Photography is allowed only without using the flash.
Animals are not allowed.
The first documented descents into the cave were made by speleologists from Trieste at the beginning of the 20th century. Then speleologists descended to the depth of 80 meters.
In 1973 the members of Proteus speleological club from Porečany went to the lower part of the cave. There they discovered a corridor that allowed them gain to the underground lakes. Today this place is considered to be the total depth of the cave. On their initiative, the Baredine Cave was declared a natural monument in 1986 because of its special qualities and beauty.
The first concrete actions to “prepare” the cave for visiting by tourists began in the early 1990s. In May 1995 the cave was opened for tourists. Since the first surveys in 1973, explorations have been carrying out to find new, corridors and “halls”.
The legend of Baredine cave comes from the 13th century. The legend says that a nobleman from Poreč named Gabrijel fell in love with a beautiful shepherdess. She lived in Nova Vas, and her name was Milka. The mother, who did not want to allow her son to marry the shepherdess, decided to give the local bandits three gold coins to kill the beautiful Milka. The thugs did not kill the shepherdess, but threw her into a cave. When the noble Gabrijel found out about this, he got on his horse and disappeared. The horse was only found by a nearby cave. Legend says that the fossilized body of the unfortunate shepherdess gradually, year after year, slipped down into the depths of the cave in search of her beloved, but whether she found him no one knows.
UNUSUAL CAVE DWELLER
The Baredine cave is inhabited by an unusual animal. It is the olm that lives in the underground waters of the vast area of the Dinaric Karst, in parts of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has a long, soft, eel-like body. Adults usually reach a length of 20 to 25 cm, whereby males being slightly shorter than females. The coloration is white (no pigmentation) with yellowish and pinkish hues coming from the surface capillaries. The olm is also called the “human fish” because of its skin is similar to human. Its eyes are completely retracted and covered with skin due to living in constant darkness. With younger individuals, however, the eyes are still visible. The flattened tail, shorter than the rest of the body, has a leathery fin. This amphibian has small limbs with three underdeveloped front toes, and the hind feet have two toes. Its respiratory system includes gills, skin, and lungs as accessory organs when oxygen levels are very low.
The olm feeds underwater crabs, insect larvae, and mollusks. These animals live in underground caves. It has been scientifically proven that of exceptional conditions, this amphibian can survive even a year without food.
This amphibian reproduces sexually by laying eggs. They reach sexual maturity around the age of 15. If ensue fertilization, females lay eggs 2 or 3 days later. Each female can lay a total of 70 eggs.
Olm is the amphibian about the longest lifespan. It is assumed that they can live even 100 years. The reason so a long life is reduced activity, slow metabolism and lack of enemies in their environment.
Ceramic vessels were found during the exploration of Baredina cave. This indicates that people lived in the cave in the old days.
WHAT WE CAN FIND NEAR THE CAVE
– Information booth
– Covered terrace with gastronomic offer
– Collection of old agricultural machinery: www.traktorstory.com
– The Konobon Gallery
– Speleological climbing center “Speleolit”: www.speleolit.com
– A place with tables and benches next to the cave for picnic lovers
01.01. – 31.03.2022: by appointment
01.04. – 30.04.2022: Monday to Friday 10:00 – 14:00 (Saturdays, Sundays 10:00 – 16:00)
01.05. – 30.06.2022: 10:00 – 17:00
01.07. – 31.08.2022: 10:00 – 18:30
01.09. – 30.09.2022: 10:00 – 17:00
01.10. – 31.10.2022: 10:00 – 16:00
01.11. – 31.12.2022: by appointment
Entrances approximately every 30 minutes.
A trip into the Baredina cave can be a nice treat from, for example, sunbathing on Croatia’s beautiful beaches. The cave tour lasts less than an hour, and with a bit of luck you will be able to photograph the olm (which is an endangered species). Nearby is an exhibition of old agricultural machinery, or speleological climbing center “Speleolit” where you can try cave climbing. By the way, you can also taste the local wine, bread and olive oil.
Shadowgate, source flickr.
Bernhard Wintersperger, source flickr.
Bernhard Wintersperger, source flickr.