Grotta di Castellana

Useful Information

Location: 40 km SE Bari, 2 km from Castellana.
Open: Regular Tour:
05-JAN to 11-MAR daily 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30.
12-MAR to 06-NOV daily 08:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19.
07-NOV to 24-DEC daily 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30.
26-DEC to 06-JAN daily 08:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19.
White Cave Tour:
05-JAN to 11-MAR daily 10, 12.
12-MAR to 06-NOV daily 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18.
07-NOV to 24-DEC daily 10, 12.
26-DEC to 06-JAN daily 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18.
Closed on 25-DEC, 01-JAN, and on the Carnevale di Putignano.
Fee: Regular Tour:
Adults EUR 8, Children (6-14) EUR 6.50, Children (0-5) free, Seniors EUR 4.
Groups (21+): Adults EUR 6.50, School Pupils EUR 4.
White Cave Tour:
Adults EUR 13, Children (6-14) EUR 10.50, Children (0-5) free, Seniors EUR 8.
Groups (21+): Adults EUR 10.50, School Pupils EUR 8.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=3,000 m, T=20 °C.
Guided tours: Regular Tour: L=1000 m, D=60 min,
White Cave Tour: L=3000 m, D=120 min,
V=250,000/a [2000] V=250,000/a [2008]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: V Manghisi, P Pace (2006): Illustrated Guide to the Castellana Caves, [presumably published by the cave.] (English Français - French Deutsch - German Italiano - Italian)
Address: Castellana Grotte, 70013 Castellana, (Bari), Tel: +39-080-4965511, Fax: +39-080-4961848
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.


1852 first written evidence.
23-JAN-1938 discovery of the cave, exploration of the first 500 m by Franco Anelli.
1939 exploration of 200 more meters.
1940 Grotta Bianca (White Cave) discovered by Vito Matarrese.
1947 show cave opened to the public.
1950 development works completed.


Some of the beautiful white formations of Castellana. The Stalactites have small Helictites at their base.

The Grotta di Castellana lies near the small town Castellana, re-named Castellana-Grotte several years ago. Castellana is a small town with 15,000 inhabitants. A large and deep pothole near Castellana was known for many years. The people told stories about ghosts and monsters inside the mysterious chasm called La Grave (the Deep).

Today the small town Castellana looks like a holiday park. Huge parking lots around the city, Hotels along the way to the cave, restaurants and shops with souvenirs, and finally a small park with the cave. The ticket office looks like a train station with multiple lanes leading crisscross to the ticket office. The reason is the month of August, as 150,000 of the annual 250,000 visitors visit the cave during August. This is the month were all Italians make their holidays, and so the cave visitors are almost 100% Italian. So if you visit this cave, try to do it in any other month. The rest of the year you will not have lanes to wait in, no crowds, and of course there are numerous foreign visitors and cave tours are provided in at last half a dozen languages.

After paying the ticket, if you have some time to the start of the tour, you should definitely visit the collapse La Grave. This natural entrance allows a view down into the biggest chamber of the cave. The dimension of this cavern is hard to determine, until you see a group of visitors on the floor. The start of the tour resembles the London Tube: there are gates were you insert your tickets with barcode to open the gate for a single person. Then a long stair goes down an artificial tunnel to the floor of the entrance hall. This descent is a little strenuous, but it is almost the last stairs. If you have problems going down long stairs, ask at the ticket office, and you can go down with the lift.

The tour starts at the floor of the main hall. Standing between huge columns of stalagmites you look up to the roof collapse, where you stood just 10 minutes ago. There is a bust of Franco Anelli (*1899-✝1977) the discoverer and developer of the cave. Of course he did not discover the hole in the ground which was known for a very long time, but he was the first speleologist to descend to the floor and explore the cave system behind. This was in 1938, when he was director of the ShowcavePostojnska Jama, which were called Grotte di Postumia at this time, as this part of Slovenia belonged to Italy since World War I. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Italy lost this region again to the new Yugoslavia of Tito. Anelli was forced to leave Postojna, and as he knew Castellana he moved with his collection and library to this place. Since this time Castellana is also a scientific center.

The main chamber, called Grave, is 70 m deep. This is the level of the whole cave system, which elongates about 3 km. The Grave seems to be a hall, but it is a huge passage, 50 m wide, up to 60 m high, and almost 600 m long. This passage is separated into chambers and alcoves by huge formations, forming towers and castles, walls and bridges. Castellana Cave has a fascinating variety of dripstones. The path makes a circle inside this huge cavern, returns almost to the staircase and then goes down into the north-western branch where the tours enter a lift and return to the surface.

Beneath this regular tour, which is called Percorso classico (classic tour), there is a long tour called Percorso fino alla meravigliosa Grotta Bianca (tour to the end and the White Cave), which leads into the southeastern branch. This passage follows the same main direction as the first part, but is much smaller. Still of decent size, it has only room for one path. The first 700 m of this passage show a rather common cave, that's why the tour guides speed up, and it's rather boring to follow them at a high pace.

But the visitors are rewarded with one of the most beautiful sights of all Italian show caves: a showcase of pure white speleothems, stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, calcite crystals, and helictites. All the minerals were formed during long times in undisturbed, limestone rich water. The common speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites were formed first, but later covered by the various crystals. The result is stalactites encrusted with calcite crystals that reach the former level of the cave lake at the lower end and look like toilet brushes or water lilies. The stalactites with such crystals are called Speleothempendulites.

For a few years the cave has been heavily polluted by the sewage from the houses built in the area above it. Some studies to limit these effects have been carried out, but up to now, very few countermeasures have been taken. A seismic recording laboratory is operating in a side passage of the cave.