There are a lot of amazing places created by nature on planet Earth that look like magical worlds. There is such a place in Austria. This is the realm of ice and snow - Eisriesenvelt, a cave similar to the possessions of the Snow Queen. Every year, thousands of tourists come to this amazing place to see the fabulous beauty.
Eisriesenvelt (cave) is located in the Alps, near the town of Werfen, which is 40 km south of Salzburg. The length of the cave is more than 42 km. For visitors, only the first kilometer is open, which is covered with ice and snow. Further on, the Eisriesenvelt Cave consists of limestone, and professional cavers work in it, and for unprepared tourists this place is closed. This is the largest ice cave system that is open to access. It is located at an altitude of 1641 m. According to the calculations of researchers, Aisriesenvelt consists of 30 thousand cubic meters of ice.
The Eisriesenvelt Ice Caves are the result of thousands of years of work on the Salzach River. Millions of years ago, the river was on the surface of the earth. But years later, she washed her underwater bed in soft calcareous rocks and now flows underground. For a long time to this day, with the onset of warm days, seeping through the rocks. When moisture penetrated the colder horizons, it froze, and over time, bizarre shapes and amazing formations formed inside the cave.
Several entrances lead inland. Therefore, air circulates here freely. Its warm streams complete the work of the cold, changing the shape of the ice. Therefore, each visit to the ice cave will not be like the previous one.
Discovery of the cave
The history of discovering and exploring a place called Eisriesenvelt is also interesting. The cave was opened in the middle of the XIX century. The hunters and poachers who hunted here knew about it. But local residents avoided him, considering the dangerous place the gates to hell. The first researcher to venture into the cave is an Austrian naturalist who lived in Salzburg. His name is Anton von Posselt. It was he who in 1879 made his way almost 200 m into the cave. A year later, in one of the magazines for climbers, he published a detailed report on his discovery. But then the publication did not attract the attention of a large circle of scientists and researchers, they forgot about the cave for 22 years.
In 1912, speleologist Alexander von Merck, fascinated by the idea of studying Aisrisenvelt, arrived in Werfen. He conducted a series of expeditions, drew up a plan for the Eisriesenvelt Cave. But further research was prevented by the outbreak of World War I. Von Merck was mobilized to the front, where he died. According to his will, the researcher’s friends and associates set up an urn with his ashes in one of the ice halls of the cave.
But the study of the ice kingdom continued, and attention to it increased year by year. In 1920, the first tourist route to the cave was laid, and a string of travelers stretched. The fame of the miracle of nature spread quickly, and the number of people who wanted to see this marvel grew from year to year. Today, the number of visitors is 200 thousand people a year.
The journey to the ice kingdom begins at the entrance to the cave. Each of the halls and elements of the cave has its own name. So, the first is named after the discoverer of the Posselt Hall, and the huge stalagmite in the center is the Posselt Tower. At the end of the hall you can see the ashen cross - this is the mark of the first explorer, outlining the place to which he reached on his expedition.
Further opens a view of the Bolshaya ice embankment - this is a 25-meter ice formation. The next point of the excursion is Khimir Castle, bearing the name of a giant from Norwegian fairy tales. Immediately you can admire the accumulation of giant icicles, called the Ice organ. After passing a little more, visitors find themselves in the Cathedral of von Merck, in which lies an urn with the ashes of a brave caver. And the final stage of the tour is a visit to the Ice Palace, a marvelous hall that captivates with its unreal beauty. The Ice Palace is 400 meters underground and about a kilometer from the entrance. Here the tour ends and visitors return to the entrance.
When can I visit Eisriesenvelt?
For tourists, the wonderful cave is open in May, June, September and October from 8 to 15 hours. In July and August - from 8 to 16:30. There are no excursions during the winter period, the entrance for visitors is closed due to the likelihood of avalanches.
A cable car leads to the cave, the climb on which takes only 3 minutes one way. Travel on it is included in the ticket price. Those who wish to take a walk can follow the path leading directly to the entrance to Eisriesenvelt. The cave, however, is far from the ticket office, the journey takes an average of 90 minutes. But this time will fly by unnoticed, because on the way you can admire the picturesque mountain views and breathe fresh air.
Some tips for visitors
Despite the fact that excursions are conducted only in the warm season, it should be remembered that inside the cave the air temperature does not rise above 0 ° C. Therefore, going on an excursion, you should wear a warm jacket, comfortable shoes that do not slip on ice, and gloves. The height differences inside the cave are significant, during the tour you will have to climb and descend the stairs with cold metal railings.
Take a thermos of hot tea and sandwiches with you. After an impressive tour in the realm of cold, a brutal appetite is played out.
Everyone who visited the excursion shared their impressions of the fabulous beauty of the underground miracle and left feedback on the complexity of the route in the Eisriesenvelt cave. This journey is for those who are not afraid of difficulties and are ready for trials to meet the beautiful.