When there is a cave to visit, I am always available!
This time it is famous Vranjača near Dugopolje – bustling industrial zone near Split. Few weeks back I got a phone call from my friend Robert Aronson that he met someone who told him about Vranjača.
I have heard about this cave before but I was never there and this was a perfect opportunity to visit and explore.
After some half hour/forty minutes drive from Split, through Dugopolje and up the hill following the signs to Kotlenica village, we reached a dirt road that took us to the small parking. Few more meters and entrance to the cave was there.
The cave is located on the 300 000 sq.m. property of Punda family and it was discovered in 1906 by the today’s owners grandfather. The cave consists of two halls. The first one, with almost no cave decorations was known throughout the history and was probably used in the neolithic times as a hiding place for hunters… The second hall was discovered in 1906 by Stipe Punda, the grandfather of our guide. He crawled deep into the cave looking for a pigeon but instead, found a small entrance to the second hall. Later, they decided to expand the opening and what they saw amazed them: a huge, very decorated hall that keeps captivating visitors ever since.
The total length of the cave is 360 meters and steps have been cared and built for visitors. The temperature in the cave is always 15 Celsius. It was the first cave in Croatia that was lit by electric light and remains so to this day. The special lights have been place recently to make the least possible impact on the cave (the algae develop under too much light). The lighting is quite dramatic although, in some places, the light could be a bit stronger so we can see more.
The entire second hall is truly a beautiful place carved some 60 000 000 years ago by an underground river that still flows there but several meters under our feet. The cave has been opened to the visitors in 1929. after it was researched.
Today, the cave gets about 5000 visitors per year. It is quite essential to balance the number of visitors since the cave micro-climate and life are very fragile. Most of the visitors come in Spring (schools…) and tourists come mostly independently. The cave has hosted several concerts and performances as you can see on the cave official blog page: http://vranjaca.blog.hr/
But the potential for even more programs and organized, small group tours is great! Especially if the local authorities really go with the funicular that would lead to the top of Mosor mountain above the cave!
For the end, a small performance by Mr. Punda himself: A short concerto for lamp and the hollow stalagmites!
So, getting there is easy: Split – Dugopolje – follow the signs to the cave (some 25 Km from Split center)
There is a charge for admission and you can get soft drinks, and several rare rakijas at the small cabin that serves as ticket booth and storage.
Wear sport shoes and keep in mind that it can be muddy so don’t go in fancy clothes.
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