Пещерата МАГУРА

Peštera Magura - Rabiša - Magura Cave


Useful Information

photography
Pestera Magura, Bulgaria. Public Domain.
photography
Belogradchik Fortress, Bulgaria. Public Domain.
Location: Near Rabiša.
45 km from Vidin, 31 km from the rocks of Belogradtschik.
From Vidin follow road 1 (E79) 30 km south to Dimovo, from Montana follow road 1 (E79) north west 68 km to Dimovo. In Dimovo turn west to Kladorub and then Rabiša.
(43.727492, 22.579816)
Open: All year daily 9:30-18:30.
First tour 10, last tour 16:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults BGN 12, Children (-18) BGN 10, Students BGN 10, Seniors BGN 10, Families (2+*) BGN 20.
Groups (10+): Adults BGN 10, Children BGN 8, Students BGN 8, Seniors BGN 8.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ExplainSpeleotherapy
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=2.500 m, T=12 °C, H=80%, Ar=28,600 m².
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Magura cave, Tel: +359-0932-9-6677.
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

03-MAY-1960 declared a natural landmark.
1965 declared a monument of culture of national importance by the Bulgarian authorities.
1984 inscribed on the UNESCO tentative World Heritage list.
1993 cave finally gated.
2009 photo exhibition at the entrance showing the murals opened.
2012 management of the cave transferred to Belogradchik municipality by the Bulgarian Council of Ministers.
2016 prehistoric art from Magura Cave presented on a photo exhibition in Paris, France.
2019 cave paintings vandalized.

Description

photography
Pestera Magura, Bulgaria. Public Domain.
photography
Pestera Magura, Bulgaria. Public Domain.
photography
Pestera Magura, Bulgaria. Public Domain.
photography
Pestera Magura, Bulgaria. Public Domain.

Пещерата Магура (Magura Cave) is famous for its so-called Picture Gallery, paintings showing hunting scenes, dance scenes and love scenes in separate groups. Some individual motives show bears, deer and birds. The paintings were made using bat guano and are located some 375 m from the entrance. The age was estimated between 10.000 and 8.000 years ago. The paintings are very similar to those of Grotta dei Cervi in Italy. In order to preserve the paintings, access to them has been strictly limited. Obviously it is rather annoying to the regular visitor, that the most important feature of the cave can not be seen. It is still not possible to see the real paintings on the tour, but since 2009 a photo exhibition at the cave entrance allows a glimpse on the paintings.

Rather weird is the fact that the paintings, which are not shown to the regular visitor, were vandalized in 2019. Three boys or young men appear to have scribbled their names right next to prehistoric drawings depicting hunting. The three are named Radi, Pavcho, and Antov, because thats what they scratched into the limestone. And even weirder: the vandalizm became public because of a Facebook post by Andrey Shurelov, a concerned visitor on May 15, 2019. The comments and views exploded, even newspapers published the news about the vandalism. And then it was revealed: it was fake news! The mayor of Belogradchik Boris Nikolov revealed the truth. The names were scratched into the wall five meters from the cave paintings, so no paintings were destroyed. Quite impressive how politicians are able to twist the situation until it fits their personal intention. The fact that the most important archaeological site in Bulgaria was vandalized is actually a shame for the management, not for the kids who did this.

Bulgarias has substantial problems with vandalism. On one side the officials are quite naive and either do nothing to protect artworks, or overreact and lock stuff up unnecessarily. On the other side Bulgarians seem to have enthusiastically acquired a bad reputation as art abusers since they have been allowed to travel all over the world. The Magura cave was not even gated until 1993, and as a result various paintings were damaged by treasure hunters. Then the cave was locked and visitors were not allowed to see the paintings at all. The Belogradchik municipality wants to intensify tourism and thus allows special tours to the paintings. But obviously it was not difficult to vandalize the paintings without anyone noticing.

Latest archaeological excavations show, that Magura Cave has been inhabited by Thracian tribes for centuries during the Bronze Age. The first chamber, Triumphal Hall, was a shelter for a rather big tribe. This is also the biggest chamber of the cave, 128 m long, 58 m wide and 28 m high. The archaeological excavations also revealed human remains from 50.000 BP and 36.000 BP, which is the Late Paleolithic (50,000 to 12,000 BC). The older remains are from Neanderthals.

There are also finds of the Iron Age, especially ceramic remains. A grave of a young girl, buried during the Roman times, as the legend says, was discovered on a high platform at the end of the hall. The crossed arms of the skeleton and the two bronze bracelets indicate, that the funeral might be of Early Christian age. A small museum inside the cave shows the artefacts found in this cave.

At the place of today's artificial lake was a small natural lake, always full of water, even during dry years.

Magura Cave is located in north-western Bulgaria close to the village of Rabisha, inside the Rabisha hill. It is also known as Peštera Rabiša, named after the hill. The cave is managed by the Belogradchik municipality since 2012, guided visits are conducted by the staff of the municipality. The cave has a main gallery with six chambers and several side branches. The total length is 2.5 kilometers. The cave is home to four kinds of bats, greater and lesser horsehoe bat, greater mouse-eared bat and Schreiber's bat, which is also called Common bent-wing bat. It was once frequented by cave bear, cave hyena, fox, wolf, wild cat and otter, which was also a result of the excavations.

The cave is used for speleotherapy for more than 30 years now. The asthma treatment is supervised by doctor Vassil Dimitrov, the head of the allergy department of the Alexandrovska Hospital. The results are highly successful. Unlike other speleotherapy institutions, the patients do not spend some hours every day underground, but sleep for twelve subsequent nights in the cave.