Pećina Megara

Useful Information

Location: Laniste Nature Park, Hadzici, Bjelašnica.
A1 exit Petlja Tarčin, from Tarčin south to Mehina Luka, follow signs to Lanište picnic area. 800 m/30 minutes walk to the cave.
(43.71777396243176, 18.08420866735654)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=220 m, A=1,290 m asl, T=5 °C.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Franz Fiala (1893): Höhlenforschungen in Bosnien, Wissenschaftliche Mitteilungen aus Bosnien und der Herzegowina, Band 1, 1893, pp 29-34. Deutsch - German pdf
Lada Lukić Bilela, J. Mulaomerović, Una Tulić, A. Habul, Almira Softić, V. Katica (2009):
Morphometric Parameters of Cranial and Postcranial Skeleton in Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus Rosenmüller & Heinroth, 1794) from Lukina Pećina Cave and Megara in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Veterinaria, Vol. 58, broj 1-2, str. 1-155, Sarajevo, 2009, pp 97-110. Bosanski - Bosnian researchgate
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1892 first excavations archaeologist Franz Fiala, one of the first curators of the National Museum in Sarajevo.
1970 paleontological excavations M. Malez from the Institute for Quaternary Geology JAZU (today HAZU) from Zagreb.


Ursus spelaeus from Pećina Megara, Croatia. Public Domain.

Pećina Megara or Špilja Megara (Megara Cave) is also known as Kuvija or Kuvija Cave, Kuhinja and Mijatina pećina or Mijatova pećina. The name Megara is of Illyrian-Roman origin and means a sanctuary for offering sacrifices. The cave was a temple for the god Jupiter Partinsky worshiped by the ancient Partini, a Illyrian tribe.

The cave is famous for its cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) bones. The bones were excavated by archaeologist Franz Fiala, one of the first curators of the National Museum in Sarajevo, from 1892. The bear bones can be seen among the exhibits of the National Museum today. Later he published a report on the excavation in the Gazette of the National Museum. As a result, other scientists continued the excavations, until finally the cave sediment was completely removed in one section. In total, the bones of 40 bears were found, which tells us that the cave was used for hibernation for a very long time. Cave Bears are extinct for some 20,000 years. They were much larger than today's brown bear, males weighed an average of 500 kg, and females 200 kg. The bears at Megara Cave were even bigger, the skull which was discovered here was the biggest found so far. They were herbivores, which is quite astonishing with this size. The name cave bear is because they used caves for hibernation, and if they died during hibernation, the skeletons remained inside the cave. The cave also contains bones of brown bear and Ursus urctos L..

Franz Fiala (*1861-✝1898) was born in Brno in the Czech Republic. He studied chemistry, but was also interested in botanics, archaeology and palaeontology. He came to Sarajevo where he worked in a tobacco factory as chemist, but in his spare time he worked as archaeologist and palaeontologist. In 1892, he became curator of prehistoric archaeology at the National Museum in Sarajevo. He led archaeological excavations of the prehistoric sites Debela Brdo in Sarajevo, in Butmir and in Ripč near Bihać, Illyrian graves on Glasinac and in Sanski Most, and Roman settlements in Stolac and Ljubuško. He also published about the flora of Bosnia and Herzegowina. At this time both the Czech Republic and Bosnia Herzegowina were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and so he published a lot in German. He died at age 36.

Megara Cave has a 220 m long main passage with two chambers, the first is 60 m from the entrance and named Fiala's Hall, after the archaeologist. It is 70 m long, 25 m wide and 10 m high. At the end of the cave there is a second chamber which is 40 m long, 27 m wide, and 13 m high.

The cave was gated to protect the speleothems from destruction and vandalism. But it is possible to see the entrance section. A huge explanatory sign was installed. There are discussions going on to develop this cave as a show cave. As it is close to Sarajevo, there would be at least enough visitors, but the remote location of the cave is a real drawback. And actually this would be a small show cave, and such caves are not very profitable. This would require a non-profit operator to keep it running. On the other side, there is already some tourist infrastructure in the area, as it is a skiing area for Sarajevo. We will have an eye on the development.

The cave is located on the Preslica mountain, the western part of the Bjelašnica mountain massif. From Tarčin, in the valley of the Bioča river, follow the road signs to the Lanište picnic area. The road is narrow but paved. From the picnic area, it's a 30-minute steep hike. Along the trail, educational signs inform about the flora and fauna of this region, and there are benches for a short break.