Pećina Vjetrenica

Spilja Vjetrenica - Vjetrenica Cavern - Wind cave - Blowhole


Useful Information

Location: On the west end of Popovo polje, near the village of Zavala (Ravno municipality) in Southern Hercegovina. 12km from the Adriatic road, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Open: APR to MAY daily 9-16.
JUN to AUG daily 9-19.
SEP daily 9-17.
OCT to MAR daily 10-14.
Tours every hour on the hour.
[2020]
Fee: Adults KM 15, Children (4-15) KM 8, Children (0-3) free, Students KM 10, Seniors KM 10.
Groups (10+): Adults KM 10, Children (4-15) KM 5, Students KM 8, Seniors KM 8. [2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave SpeleologyBlowhole
Light: LED
Dimension: L=7,014m, T=12°C, A=260m asl..
Guided tours: L=1,800m. V=500/a [2009] V=12.000/a [2017]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Anton Kapel (1997): Contribution to the history of the explorations of the cave Vjetrenica in Zavala to 1914., Acta Carsologica, Ljubljana, 26(2), 95-98, 1997.
Ivo Lučić (2003): Vjetrenica - pogled u dušu zemlje, Cave Vjetrenica - a glimpse into the soul of Earth, with Boris Sket: Životinjski svijet Vjetrenice (Cave fauna, the particular case of Vjetrenica), Zagreb, 324 p.
Father C. Mihajlovic (1897): Exploring Hercegovina's Vjetrenica Cavern, translated from German by George Kosich
A Hiljferding (1873): Bosnia Herzgovina and Old Serbia, A description by a Russian geographer who visited the cave in 1858
Mihaljo S Rodovanovic (1926): Pecina Vjetrenica y Hercegovin, 26 Nov 1926, over 100pp of morphological/hydrological studies in Cyrillic.
Address: Trg Ruđera Boškovića bb, 88370 Ravno, Tel: +387 36 891 034, Fax: +387 36 891 034. E-mail:
Mr. Ivo Lučić, curator of Vjetrenica. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

77 mentioned in Historia naturalis by Pliny the Elder.
1461 mentioned by Getaldić.
1584 Nikola Vitov Gucetic probably mentions the cave in his book Sopra le Metheore d' Aristotile (About Aristotle's meteors)..
1858 visited by the Russian geographer A. Hiljferding.
1889 exploration by Groller.
1893 exploration by Vavrović.
1903 exploration by Katzer.
1912-1914 exploration of the cave by the Czech scientist Karel Absolon.
1928 Vjetrenica described in the dissertation of Mihajlo Radovanović, with photos by Čedmil Kušević.
1929 survey by the Serbian geographer Mihajlo Rdaovanović.
1938 hydrological research by geomorphologist Sime Milojević.
1939 cave developed, path built.
1940 cave opened to the public.
1952 listed as Natural Monument.
1958 exploration by the Speleological Association of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Karst and resurvey with theodolites provided by Energoinvest.
1964 electric lights installed, path renewed, motel built.
1965 declared a special geological reserve.
1991 cave closed due to Balkan war.
1991-1996 electric light destroyed during Balkan war.
2000 research by SD Velebit speleologists from Zagreb, discovery of new passages.
2004 inscribed on the tentative list of the UNESCO WHL.
2009 reopened to the public.

Description

Pećina Vjetrenica (Vjetrenica Cavern) is located at the western end of Popovo polje. From the cave entrance the visitor has a very nice view on Popovo polje, with the typical shape of a flat fertile floor and bare, steep limestone hills around.

The cave is gated by a massive iron bar gate and equipped with paths. Once there was also electric light, but it was destroyed during the war in the mid 1990s. The tourist section of the cave is mostly a huge passage, the first 500m of a river passage with very few speleothems. In several parts the cave floor is covered by rimstone pools, like in Pjati hall. In times of very wet weather the water rises in the inner part of cave (beyond 700m). Here are many streams and lakes, the largest one is Veliko jerzero (Great Lake), about 180m long and 1250m from the cave entrance. The colour of the rock is mostly reddish brown or red, caused by the red iron oxide.

The name of the cave translates blowing cave which is pretty close to the geologic term blowhole. It is often called wind cave, which is actually wrong, it was not created by wind. The cave system is rather huge, and so differences in temperature and differences in air pressure produce an air current flowing in or out of the cave. The direction depends on the season, or better on the outside temperature. The wind blows rather strong, it can reach a speed of more than 10m/sec.

In 1584 Nikola Vitov Gucetic describes an unnamed cave in Popovo polje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous for strong wind at its entrance. This is very likely Vjetrenica Cave. This work is a comment on Aristotle's explanations of natural phenomenon according to the principles of natural philosophy. Gucetic tries to explain the origin of the wind by evaporation of the elements of the Earth caused by the Sun. He also noted that this wind is not observable deeper in the cave, but only at the entrance. He explained that by acceleration of air current in narrower parts of cave passages, similar to the acceleration of sea currents in narrow sea passages.

The cave was explored at the end of the 19th century by Joseph Riedel and C. Mihajlović. At the beginning of the 20th century J. Vavrović continued the exploration. The famous Bohemian geographer, zoologist and paleontologistK. Absolon and his collegue K. Pazmade the most important discoveries between 1912 and 1914.

But the existence of the cave was known for a very long time, it was already mentioned in 1461 on the session of the Senat of Durovnik. Yet much earlier, Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, AD 23-79) mentions in his workHistoria naturalis a cave which is most likely Vjetrenica.

Today this cave is famous for its cave life. Vjetrenica Cave contains at least 80 types of stygobites andtroglobites, making it one of the most diverse caves in the world. There are numerous scientific works about the cave. The most famous troglobiont (cave animal) in this cave is the olm (Proteus anguinus). And the cave also contains the bones of extinct animals, like cave bear (Ursus spelaeus). Most important was the discovery of complete skeleton of a leopard (Panthera pardus).

The name of the cave means Wind Cave, the reason for which is immediately obvious, when one arrives at the gated entrance. A howling gale at about 10.6°C emits from the cave, this flow being reversed in winter. When the summer temperature is higher than 30°C this comes as something of a shock to the system, and the cave supplied cloaks, so that visitors descend, looking like little pixies.


from Anne Oldham (1986): Yugoslavia, p 81. With kind permission.