Moravian Karst, also called Karst, is one of the largest cave systems in Europe, with a total length of about 25 km. The natural complex is located in the eastern part of the country, north of Brno, near Blansko. In total there are more than 1100 caves in the Moravian Karst, but only 5 of them are accessible to tourists. In fact, this is not a small number: to fully explore the halls and corridors open to the public, you need at least two days. During the tour, guests will see the lakes at the bottom of the abyss and the river, will see the giant stalactites and stalagmites, learn all about the work of the secret underground plant, and if you’re lucky, and get to the concert of chamber music.
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Video: Moravian Crus
History of Moravian Krás exploration
The first daredevils descended into the caves of Moravian Karst in the early 17th century, when the spacious halls of Vypustek were explored. The other sections accessible to tourists today were first explored a century later. Of course, there were no scientific expeditions, but the simplest measurements were made. Speleologists began systematic studies of the Moravian Karst in the twentieth century, when the Macocha Abyss and the Punctuated Caves leading to it were passed. Since then, research has not stopped and in 1956 the cave system was declared a state reserve.
Tourists visiting the Moravian Karlovy Vary have developed sightseeing routes of the Punkvenný caves with the Macochá chasm, the Stolbšovská Šošovská subsystem, and the solitary Kateržinská and Balcářská caves. In the last decade, the Wyspuszek Cave, previously given to the military, also became accessible.
The caves and the Macocha Abyss.
The system got its name from the river Punkwa, which flows at the bottom of the Macocha Abyss – the deepest in Central Europe. It is 138 m deep and 76 m wide. You can get there through the Punkwena Caves, situated 2 km from Skalisty Mlyn – the main information point of Moravian Karst. At the entrance guests are welcomed by the Front Hall with the stalactite Sentinel. After viewing the bizarre figures, the guide leads the group through a dry siphon corridor into the Clay Halls and the Middle Cathedral, on the upper vaults of which runs the impregnable Crystal Corridor. After the Rear Cathedral, the dry part of the route ends and the Wet Road begins, which is traversed by boat. Guests float through the underground lakes to the Fairy Tale Cathedral with its picturesque natural sculptures and continue their journey along the Punkawa.
You can look into the Masochu Abyss on your own without joining a group. You first need to use the cable car and get to the Upper Lookout Bridge on the rock near the abyss. Even better view the bottom of the Lower Bridge from a height of 92 m – from there you can even discern thickets of rare dwarf berrygrass, which blooms with purple bells from May to July. Both bridges were built in the 19th century, when the tourist potential of Moravian Karlovy Vary became apparent – the Upper Bridge in 1882, the Lower Bridge in 1899. The river forms two underground lakes, the smaller one, 13 m deep, can be seen from the bridge, the 30-meter deep lake is hidden in the traces of the landslide that formed the Matsocha.
In Balzarka, located in the northern part of the Moravian Karst, nature has created the most spectacular stalactites. In addition, many artifacts from the Stone Age have been found here – weapons made of flint and bone, tools created about 15000 years ago. The entrance to the cave is the Great Portal, which leads to the Wilson Rotunda. From the Great Cathedral, guests ascend to the Gallery. In the Cathedral of Doom, a stalactite waterfall awaits them. The dreadful name comes from the collapse of the ceiling of the cave, which resulted in the beautiful figures. In the Cathedral of Death the walls are covered with a milky colored plaque formed by cave microorganisms.
Half a kilometer east of Rocky Mlyn is Katerjin Cave, known for its stalagmites. Its main cathedral, the largest in the Moravian Karlovy Vary, is so large that music concerts are held there. Further on, the Bamboo Forest begins – a cluster of large stalagmites. Katerjinska cave got its name in memory of a young shepherd girl. The girl wandered into the cave in search of a lost sheep, wandered for a long time through the intricate passages and died of cold and fatigue. Tourists alone are not allowed to enter Katerzynská cave to avoid repeating the terrible fate of the shepherdess, because it is very easy to deviate from the route without an experienced guide.
The complex is located in the south of the village Slope, which means “pillar”, which is why the system is called in Russian both Stolbsko-Shoshuvskaya and Stolbsko-Shoshuvskaya. The second part of the name comes from the place Shoshuvka, which lies east of the complex. One of the halls of the system is equipped as a concert hall for chamber music. Among the most spectacular parts are the Eliština Cave and the 90-meter deep Nagel’s Abyss with the Stolbka River at the bottom. The total length of the explored part of the caves about 4 km, the tourists have access to 0.9-1.7 km, depending on the chosen route.
The last of the 5 tourist sites of Moravian Karlovy Vary was opened to the public only recently, in 2005. Before that Výpůstek was a restricted military facility. Archaeological excavations show that people lived here 15 thousand years ago. In 1936 the military assessed the security of the cave and organized it as a weapons depot, in 1944 – a shop for the production of aircraft engines for the Germans. In the 60s the headquarters of Czechoslovak army was located in Vypustek. It is the most modified by man cave Moravský Krása: Its spacious cathedrals were turned into a conference room and bedrooms with a total length of 170 meters with good ventilation.
Information for tourists
Tourists visit Moravian Krás all year round, but the peak of visits is in summer, when all trails are open. At this time it is recommended to book tickets in advance to be sure of getting in. The main information center is located in Blansko, on the Rocky Mill, or Mlyn, with restaurants and souvenir shops open nearby.
You can fully explore the cave system in 2 days. Tourists who come without overnight stay have to limit themselves to 2-3 routes. The territory of the reserve is closed to vehicles, but for tourists there is a cable car and environmentally friendly train, the cost of the ticket “there – back” is 80 CZK. Inside the caves it is cold, not more than +8°C, so warm clothes and comfortable shoes are required. Getting around the Moravian Karst caves does not require any special training, wheelchair users can visit the Stolbšovské Šošůvské caves and Výpůstek caves.
Opening hours and cost of a visit
In low season, from October to March, the reserve “Moravský Kras” is open from 8 to 15 hours, in high season the last group enters the caves at 16:30. Baltsarka and Kateřinská cave are closed for the winter, in the others the number of excursions is limited to 3 per day. The length of the routes ranges from 600 to 1700 m, tour time – from 40 to 180 minutes.
Full tickets to Balzárka and Katářínská caves cost 100 CZK, to Sloupsko Šošovské caves 110-140 CZK, to Vypustek 120 CZK, to Punkvenny caves 110 CZK on the dry trail and 160 CZK with a boat trip on the underground river. An adventurous route in a group of up to 10 people over 10 years of age through the Stolb and Šošov caves costs 500 CZK per tourist. On standard routes students and pensioners get 20-25% discount, children from 6 to 15 years old get 40% discount.
How to get there
The closest cities to Moravian Karst are Brno in the south and Blansko in the north. From Brno to Skalisty Mlyn is about 30 km, many tourists go to Blansko directly from Prague for 3.5 hours by train. Buses stop at the point “Skalisty Mlýnica”. Travellers by car should take E65 from Prague to Brno, then take local road E461, turning off at 379 to the sign for Skalisty Mlýnka, where you can park.
Moravský Krás (Karst), Czech Republic
What to see
The Czech Republic has a lot of amazing beauty of palaces, temples and cities, different sights made by human hands. But even the brightest emotions fade with time and perceptions dull. In this case, the best way to avoid it is to change the environment, and get new emotions, for example, to get acquainted with the sights of the country, which were created by nature itself.
To renew the brightness of emotions you can walk through the caves, ride a boat on an underground river. You can do all this if you visit the famous caves Moravian Cras.
What to see
To date, there are four caves available for tourists. In this meta usually begins all tours of the caves. Tours in most cases are conducted in the Czech language, but you do not need to worry about this, at the ticket office, where you will buy an entrance ticket, the cashier will give you an audio guide with a booklet in Russian.
The first cave you will see is the Punktova Cave, it will lead you to the Matsocha Cave, then the Baltsarska Cave, where you can see what the stalactites look like. In Katerzynska Cave you can see what rare stalagmites look like. The famous Vypustek Cave was in ancient times considered a secret military facility. When visiting the Stolboszczowskie Caves you will be amazed at the huge size of the abyss.
In the caves you can wander through the corridor labyrinths and gorges created by nature itself and see what the stalactites look like. And one more feature of the caves is that bats live in them.
In Moravian Krás everything is designed specifically for people. Fans of cycling can ride on the routes, both easy and difficult. Hiking lovers can safely walk along the hiking trails.
All trails are signposted, so you won’t get lost in the caves.
The entire area in which the caves are located covers about twenty-five kilometers, and the number of caves that are in this huge area is more than a thousand, the entire area of the Czech national park is more than 90 kilometers. Bats live in the caves, there are a huge number of species, as well as a variety of spineless animals living next to them. And for the record, most of all the animals that live in these caves are still unexplored.
The greatest treasure of Moravian Karlovy Vary is the Macocha Abyss. At the very edge of this 138-meter gorge there are two specially equipped viewing platforms which look like balconies over the gorge. You can get to the top observation deck by cable car. You can get there very quickly, but you have to stand in a long line to buy a ticket and board the cable car. At the top of the cave caved ceiling and a piece of the sky is visible. Very popular with tourists are walks along the underground river Punkva, which flows into the lake.
Moravian Caves on the map of Czech Republic
Moravian Caves are located at this address:
- South Moravian Region, Czech Republic
The length of this system is about 25 km. These caves are the largest in Europe. They are located near the city of Brno, Prague, and Blansko.
How to get there from Prague.
From the Czech capital you can get to the caves if you take a direct train to Blansko. On the way you will spend about 3.5 hours. Then you need to take a bus and go to the bus stop Skalný Mlýn, or you can take a cab, the trip takes about ten minutes.
The best way to get there is to take Highway E65 to Brno, then take Highway E461 to get to Highway 379 and follow the signs to the stop Skalný Mlýn. There is a parking lot where you can park your car.
How to get there from Brno
If you are going to Moravian Karlovy Vary, the best way to get there is to take the train to Brno and then take the train to Blansko. Then take bus number 226 and get off at the Skalný Mlýn stop.
Mode of operation
Tours of the caves are held from March to November according to this approximate schedule:
- In March, tours run Tuesday through Sunday three times a day: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m;
- In April, tours are Tuesday through Sunday, every hour, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m;
- May through June there are tours Monday through Sunday, 8:20 a.m. to 4 p.m;
- July-August tours run Monday through Sunday, 8:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m;
- September tours run Monday through Sunday, every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m;
- In October, tours are Monday through Sunday, every hour, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, there is an additional 3 p.m. tour;
- In November, there are tours three times a day Tuesday through Sunday: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 2 p.m;
- In December, January, and February the entrance to the cave is closed.
Cost of visiting
To get into the Balzarka cave you have to pay an entrance ticket: 100 CZK for adults, 80 CZK for people of retirement age and 60 CZK for children.
Tickets for the Kateržinská cave: adult ticket 690 CZK, senior ticket 70 CZK, children ticket 50 CZK.
Tickets to the Punkva Cave: adults 150-110 CZK, seniors 160-90 CZK, children 100-70 CZK.
Entrance to the Stolb and Šošov caves costs: adults 110-120 CZK, elderly 80 CZK, children 60-70 CZK.
There are special tickets which give the possibility to visit several caves at the same time.
You can find all the information you need about the changes in the opening hours, the offered tours and a description of all the attractions on the website: