Печера Вертеба

Verteba Pestera

Useful Information

Location: Near Bilche-Zolote village. Borchshiv district, Khmelnitski region.
(48.788868, 25.871565)
Open: only after appointment.
Fee: Adults UAH 30, Children UAH 25.
Groups: Per Group UAH 250.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SpeleologyGypsum cave.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=7,820 m, T=9-10 °C, H=92-100 %.
Guided tours: L=800 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Sławomir Kadrow, Dalia Anna Pokutta (2016): The Verteba Cave: A Subterranean Sanctuary of the Cucuteni-Trypillia Culture in Western Ukraine, Journal of Neolithic Archaeology, 18 (2016), pp 1-21. online DOI
Christos Nicola, Peter Lane Taylor (2007): The secret of Priest's Grotto: a Holocaust survival story, Minneapolis: Kar-Ben, ISBN 978-1-58013-260-2.
Address: Музей трипільської культури печера Вертеба, st. Shevchenko 9, 48702, Borshchiv, Ternopil, Tel: +380-3541-21-692, Tel: +380-97-289-1649. 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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3500 BC used by the Trypillian proto-civilization as a cemetery.
1823 cave discovered by the local landlord Jan Malewskij during hunting.
1942 a group of Jewish families fled from the Third Reich into the cave.
1993 Christos Nicola, an American caver, discovered the remnants of their refuge 2003.
1995 exploration and excavations by the Borshchiv Museum of Local History under the leadership of Mykhailo Sokhatskyi.
2004 cave opened as an underground archaeological museum.


Печера Вертеба (Pestera Verteba) is famous for remains from the Neolithic age. At this time the Trypillian proto-civilization lived in this area, built cities and used the cave as a cemetery. The Trypillian proto-civilization existed from the 6th to the end of 4th millennium BC. At this time the basics of civilization, such as the creation of reproductive economies, handicrafts, first bridges, and written language were developed.

A Trypillian settlement of the Late period is located close to the cave and was excavated during the 19th and 20th century by A. Kirkor, G. Ossovski, V. Demetrykevich, O. Kandyba, I. Sveshnikov, and M. Sokhatskij. The archaeologists found a bone plate from about 3,500 BC inside the cave, which has the punctuated silhouette of a goddess. This goddess became the symbol of Trypillia. The main collection of Trypillian painted pottery from Bilche, which are more than 300 vessels and figurines, are nowadays on display in the Krakow archaeological museum (Poland). Only a part of the findings are kept in Lviv Historical Museum and in Borschiv district museum.

Another part of the history of Verteba Pestera happened during World War II. In 1942 the Nazis invaded Ukraine and thus several Jewish families, 32 people including seniors and children used the cave as a hideout. They stayed for six months, but they could not find enough water and suffered from the toxic build-up of their cooking fire smoke. So in May 1943 they relocated to Popowa Yama (Priest's Grotto), an unexplored cave located beneath land owned by a local parish priest. All together they stayed underground for nearly two years. The remains of their underground camp were discovered by Christos Nicola, an American caver, on an expedition in 1993. He spent ten years researching the story and found some living members of this group. The whole story is published in the June/July 2004 issue of Adventure, a magazine of the National Geographic Society.

And later the Ukrainian Insurgent Army soldiers also hid in this cave. In one of the halls, the fighters learned how to shoot, the white dots on one of the walls are the traces of bullets.

Today the cave is operated as a museum named Музей трипільської культури печера Вертеба (Museum of Tripoli Culture of the Verteba Cave). It is a section of the Борщівського Краєзнавчого Музею (Borshchiv Regional Museum of Local History). There are no regular open hours for the cave, visits must be reserved and are guided by a member of the museum.