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Baradla-Domica Caves Hungary

The Baradla-Domica Cave system is not only by far the largest but also one of the most beautiful cave systems in Central Europe. It extends for about 21km (13mile), crossing under Hungary`s north-eastern border with Slovakia, in the heart of the magnificent World Heritage karst landscape of central Europe, where there are more tham 700 caves.

The Baradla is one of the most renowned and researched caves in the world. There is plentiful archaeological evidence that its halls were inhabited by prehistoric man and in the middle ages people used it as a source of rocks, driving carts in to be loaded up. It was written about in 1549, and the worlds first known cave map, based on a 2km (1.25mile) section of it, was made in 1794. Tourism and geological research began in earnest in Baradla in the mid 19th century, and in 1932 it was established that Baradla and Domica were in fact separate entrances to the same cave, with the underground River Styx running between them. The cave system, which is on three levels, began to form about 2 million years ago. Water started to seep into cracks in the 230 million year-old limestone rock, gradually dissolving it and depositing sediment to create a vast fairyland of underground halls and passages decorated with a staggering display of stalagmite forests and fantastic dripstone figures of all colours, shapes and sizes.

The caves contain the worlds tallest stalagmite 32.7m (107ft), a 13m (43ft) long stalactite, an ice abyss, a lake and two underground rivers. It is also a habitat for 465 different creatures, ranging from unicellular organisms to crabs and bats.

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