Aggtelek National Park & the Baradla Cave
Covering an area of 20,000ha (78 sq.mi) on the Slovak-Hungarian border, some 70km (44mi) north of Miskolc, lies Aggtelek National Park, with some unique flora and fauna and several hundred limestone caves and underground passages. A network of signposted paths and roads attract many walkers to this nature reserve. The chief attraction is the Baradla Cave; it is 25km (16mi) long (of which 7km (4mi) lie in Slovak territory, where it is known as the Domica Cave), making it one of the largest and most impressive dripstone caves anywhere in Europe.
There are entrances to Baradla-barlang (as the cave is known) near Jósvafo, at Vörös tó (Red Lake) and the main entrance, with a small natural history museum, is near the town of Aggtelek. One-hour guided tours (with commentary in Hungarian only) start from here - stout shoes and a warm sweater are recommended, as the temperature in the caves is only about 10°C (50°F). Tours lasting several hours can also be made by prior arrangement.The main tunnel of the Baradla Cave is 7km (4mi) long, with several side passages averaging 10m (33ft) in width and 7-8m (22-26ft) in height. They were formed over many thousands of years, as rain and melting snow penetrated fine cracks in the limestone to form underground streams which in turn carved out long tunnels and giant caves. The water dripping through the chalk has carved bizarre shapes, stalactites like giant icicles hanging from the roof and stalagmites in all colors of the rainbow towering up from the floor. Quite often their shapes are reminiscent of familiar animals or objects, as reflected in the fantasy names which have been given to many dripstones (Turtle, Pheasant, Eagle, Tiger, Father Christmas, etc.) or to whole sections of the caves (Fairyland, Hall of the Giants). The rock formations increase in size by one millimeter every 15 to 20 years so, for example, it has taken about 250,000 years for the giant dripstone in the Cave of Peace to attain its present height of 13m (43ft). As it possesses superb acoustics the giant underground "hall" has been equipped as a concert hall. The guided tour will include a ten-minute son et lumière show with Pink Floyd providing the background music!More and more visitors are discovering the cave known as Béke-barlang (Cave of Peace) near Aggtelek; first discovered in 1952, it commences in the Aggtelek valley, extends as far as Komlós Spring at Jósvaf and boasts even more dripstone formations than the Baradla Cave. The high humidity proves most beneficial to a large number of asthma sufferers.