Prekonoška Pećina

Преконошка пећина - Преконошка Пештера - Prekonoška Cave - Prekonoga


Useful Information

photography
Historic Cave Map, Prekonoška Pećina, Serbia. Public Domain.
Location: Above the village Prekonoga.
5 km from Svrljig, 2 km from Prekonoga.
(43.380420, 22.102020)
Open: no restrictions.
[2008]
Fee: free.
[2008]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=435 m, A=700 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Prekonoška cave, Tel: +381-18-821059.
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

1866 cave first explored by Dr. Stevan Mačaj, a doctor from the Knjaževac district and a passionate researcher.
1866 cave explored by Milan Đ. Milićević.
1867 visited by the naturalists Jovan Žujović and Josip Pančić.
186? visited by the great travel writer Felix Kanitz.
186? first archaeological research by Dr. Jovan Cvijić and Dr. Đoka Jovanović.
1882 mining engineer Felix Hoffman discovers fossils and fragments of pottery in the cave entrance.
1888 opened as a show cave by King Milan Obrenović.
1934 steps to the entrance concreted on order by King Aleksandar Karađorđević.
1949 declared a natural monument.
1949 generator and electric light installed.
1970s cave abandoned.
1984-1985 archeological excavations.

Description

Prekonoška Pećina is a former show cave with remains of the trails still in place. It was closed for decades, but has now been reopened. It's possible to visit the cave following the old show caves trails, which makes this a very easy cave trekking tour. We recommend good walking shoes and a helmet with headlamp. The cave is signposted "Преконошка пећина/Prekonoška Cave" and advertised, but it seems there are no plans to actually revive the show cave.

The Prekonoška cave is located in the western part of the Svrljig Mountains. There is a single land dirt road to the cave, then a trail to the left down to the entrance. There is a 20 m high cliff face and the cave entrance is located at its foot. In this shelter prehistoric artifacts were excavated. In the second half of the 19th century J. Žujović published that the cave was visited by cave bears and prehistoric man. Nearby, about 10 m below, is Velika dupka (The Big Hole), which is considered the same cave. The cave begins with some stooping, but after 20 m low and speleothem-free tunnel the cave expands to Dvorana (Hall) which hase some speleothems. On the northern side through the Mala vrata (Small Gate), the channel enters the Šib (Shrub) and then reaches a staircase which descends a shaft called Jezero (Lake). Šib and Jezero are filled with stalactites, stalagmites and stalagnates of different dimensions. They have names like Veliki stalagmit (Great Stalagmite) and Presto (Throne), and there are rimstones filled with water, stalactites, flowstones and drapery of different shades.

The cave developed as a river cave when it still drained the karst area. This was long ago, today the water filled level with the Dobra river (Prekonoga river) is located 120 m below.

The entrance to the cave is low, so that one can hardly enter. When that anguish passes, the first cavity is hit. Now it goes on and the vaults begin to rise, widen and glisten as if sprinkled with precious stones. This part of the cave can be considered as a huge tomb, because there are countless remains of all kinds of antediluvian animals. In a real big cave you have to go down on a rope. Here you can see things never seen before: one does not know whether one is in a church with an altar, pulpit and chandeliers, or among the white marble pillars.
Milan Đ. Milićević, 1866.

The cave discovered in 1866 by Dr. Stevan Mačaj, a doctor from the Knjaževac district and a passionate researcher. He told Milan Đ. Milićević about his discovery who visited the cave and started a new tradition. He was the first in a long row of naturalists, explorers, writes, archaeologists, and mining engineers, who visited the cave in the next years. As a result it became quite famous, but also signs of destruction appeared. This explains probably, why the development as a show cave was ordered by the King.

HIS Majesty ordered, and the path was repaired and fenced, the cave opening was widened, the cave door was made. Everything is arranged so that not everyone can enter it and search and dig at will. The key to the door is kept by a municipal councilor. All this now looks like beautifully decorated Carniolan caves, and the tourist who comes here feels that he is in a country that is already beginning to get more taste for natural beauties.
Jovan Cvijić, scientist, 1888.

This is the oldest speleological tourist facility in Serbia, it was developed as a show cave in 1888 by order of King Milan Obrenović. This also protected the cave as they installed a gate at the entrance, obviously this argument pro show caves is more than a century old. And another King took great interest in the cave. The steps to the entrance were concreted on order by King Aleksandar Karađorđević in 1934. According to legend he intended to ceremoniously open the cave for tourists after visiting France, but he was killed in Marseilles.

The cave was a successful show cave for many decades. After World War II it was declared a Natural Monument and got electric light, powered by a generator, almost at the same time. It was popular among locals and visited by school classes. But in the 70s the decline began, and unfortunately, after the cave was not maintained anymore, the gate was demolished and cave and installations vandalized and destroyed. The electric light and the generator were stolen, Speleothems were stolen or simply smashed, illegal excavations were made, either to find archaeological remains or a nonexistent treasure. They obviously never discovered anything of value but the cave was vandalized by treasure hunters. Archaeological excavations in 1984 and 1985 were probably intended as emergency excavations, to collect what was left. They were not successful.