Furnas de Vila Velha

Caves of Vila Velha

Useful Information

Location: Ponta Grossa, Parana 84045-900.
Rodovia Br-376 Km 515 S/N, Rua Silva Jardim - Vila Velha, Ponta Grossa, Parana 84045-900.
(-25.223459, -50.041339)
Open: All year Mon, Wed-Sun 9-17, last entry 15.
Fee: Foreigners BRL 98, Brazilians BRL 49, Ponta Grossa Residnts BRL 38.
Classification: KarstDoline SpeleologySandstone Cave
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=140 m, W=70 m, VR=107 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Henrique Pontes, Luiz Fernandes, Mário Melo, Gilson Guimarães, Laís Massuqueto (2020): Speleothems in quartz-sandstone caves of Ponta Grossa municipality, Campos Gerais region, Paraná state, southern Brazil, International Journal of Speleology. 49. 119-136. DOI
Address: Furnas de Vila Velha, Rodovia Br-376 Km 515 S/N, Rua Silva Jardim, Vila Velha, Ponta Grossa, Parana 84045-900, Tel: +55-42-9841-72323. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1552 Ulrich Schmidel, a German born in Bavaria, explores the area accompanied by about 20 Carijós Indians.
12-OCT-1953 State Park created.
18-JAN-1966 listed by the Historic and Artistic Heritage of the State of Peraná.
05-JUN-2002 State Park extended.


The Furnas de Vila Velha (Furnaces of Vila Velha), also known as Caldeirões do Inferno (Cauldrons of Hell), are a series of five circular dolines in sandstone. Four of the shafts have a lake at the bottom, which is actually the groundwater level of the Furnas aquifer. Furna 1 is the deepest with more than 100 meters of depth, 54 m above the water and 53 m below. Furna 2 is the widest and second deepest with 40 m above 30 m below the water. Furna 3 is not deep enough to reach the groundwater, so it has a dry floor, the doline is 20 m deep. Furna 4 is the shaft with the smallest diameter, 20 m above the water and 13 m below. The fourth is not named furna, because it looks like a shallow lake, only 4 m deep and named Lagoa Dourada.

The deepest doline, the Furna 1 was developed for tourism with an elevator, the panoramic elevator brings visitor to a platform floating on the lake. It is used as an outlook for the cave and as a starting point for swimming and scuba diving. Depending on the time of day, the water changes its colour from greenish to turquoise blue. The walls are covered with vegetation and provide shelter for thousands of Coleira Fault Swifts (Streptoprocne biscutata). Similar to bats and swiftlets living in caves, they leave and enter the doline daily at sunset and at dawn, offering a great spectacle. The Furna 2 was developed with a zip line and an outlook at the rim.

The sandstone has horizontal bedding and vertical cracks through which rain water from the surface entered the rock. There are also pores in the sandstone which were water-filled. It seems the formation of caves started where cracks and bedding planes crossed. The growing cave extended upwards and finally reached the water table. As a result the ceiling started to collapse because of the reduced pressure in the air filled part. Slowly moving upward the ceiling finally reached the surface and the collapsed ceiling created a more or less vertical collapse doline. The processes of speleogenesis here are very similar to karst processes, but the quartz sandstone is normally not soluble. It is based on high amounts of water, high acidity and high temperature in connection with biological activities. This kind of karst is different to classical karst, which is restricted on soluble rocks like limestone and gypsum. In literature, it is often named pseudokarst, a very controversial term, recently there were also ideas to extend the definition of the term karst to include this kind of cave formation. However, the site is quite special and fascinating from the geological viewpoint.

The Furnas were named after the sandstone formations Vila Velha, which are protected by the Parque Estadual de Vila Velha. There is a total of 12 large dolines or furnas. The red sandstones form a bizarre landscape of towers, mushroom-like pillars, and narrow gorges. They are named Coca-Cola bottle, Boot, Cup, Indian, or Ship's Bow. Along the road 376 there are numerous escarpments which are known as the Formações de Arenitos, arenite is another name for sandstone. The parque provides transportation, guides and infrastructure, between the three attractions Arenitos, Furnas and Lagoa Dourada.

The area was first explored by Ulrich Schmidel, a German born in Bavaria, accompanied by about 20 Carijós Indians. He was the first European who crossed the continent from the West, Asunción, in Paraguay, to the East, São Vicente, on the coast of São Paulo and back to the Pacific. The local Indians knew the strange rocks for a long time, and they had many legends.

The place was once chosen to host the Abaretama (land of men), where the Itainhareru (the precious treasure) was kept. This treasure was protected by the Tupã, and carefully watched over by a legion of Apiabas (men). They were chosen from the most valiant men of all the tribes and specially trained for this honorable mission. They enjoyed all the privileges, but were forbidden any contact with women, even those from their own tribes. It was believed, that once the women heard of the secret, they would spread it to the four winds, and if the secret reached the ears of their enemies, they would seize the treasure. They believed Tupã, the omnipotent, would no longer protect his people and would bring misfortune upon them, if they lost the treasure. The Apiabas were strong and brave, and their only work was to care for the beautiful gardens on the plains. But one day a womanizer named Dhui became chief of the Apiabas. The rival tribes heard this and chose Aracê Poranga (Aurora Bonita), their most beautiful maiden to tempt the young warrior and take away his secret. She ensnared him in her skilful web, and he was so in love that he showed her the Abaretama. But when she gave him a cup of uirucuri liqueur he lost his last control and they made love. Tupã was furious and destroyed the whole plain of Abaretama which got its current rugged appearance. The gold of the treasure melted away and the lovers were turned into stone. Lagoa Dourada (golden lake) is the molten remains of the Itainhareru, and until today it glows golden when hit by the sun.