St Ninian’s Cave

St Ninian’s Cave stands at the rear of a collapse in part of the rocky headland at the north western end of the stony beach at Physgill, that looks out over Port Castle Bay,some three miles south west of Whithorn. To reach it, there is a car park at Kidsdale, which is signed for St Ninian’s Cave. The walk begins along the path which is signed from a corner of the car park. It then runs down the wooded Physgill Glen. At one point the path divides, with a higher…

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Tham Piew Cave: a tangible reminder of an atrocity that took place during a secret war.

On this day, November 24, 1968, daily life began much as it had for some time. Villagers, accustomed to bombs and rocket attacks in the region, had long sought refuge deep in the extensive limestone cave systems of eastern Laos. Along with hundreds of men, women, and children from neighboring villages, rebel Pathet Lao fighters occasionally sought refuge in the dozens of large caves throughout the region as the insurgents made their way through eastern Laos. However, if most of the caves proved to provide safe haven, Tham Piew Cave…

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Drangurinn Rock and the Elves in South-Iceland Folklore

Drangurinn rock is a mysterious giant tuff rock formation that sits below the Eyjafjöll Mountains in the south of Iceland. However, according to Icelandic folklore, it did not get there naturally, but It is said that a semi-legendary outlaw tore it from Mount Hrútafell and dropped it just there. According to the story, a strongman named Grettir Ásmundsson once passed through this area in a bad mood. In his rage, he grabbed a handful of the mountain and flung it westwards onto the lowlands. The rock he threw down is…

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Pozzo del Diavolo: was this cave created by Hercules’s wrath, the devil, or volcanic activity?

We are in Italy, in Lazio region, above Vico Lake in the beautiful beech forest of Monte Venere, part of the UNESCO’s Primeval Beech Forests of Europe transnational network of protected sites. At 507 meters above sea level, Lake Vico is the highest volcanic lake in Italy and the beech forest of Monte Venere is among the lowest in the country (most beech forests are located above 900 meters). Thanks to its peculiar natural characteristics, the lake offers a rich variety of plant species and different environments, allowing the life…

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Fingal’s Cave, the “Cave of Melody” in Scotland

Usually you not hear, in the same sentence, names like Queen Victoria, Matthew Barney, Jules Verne, and Pink Floyd but, strangely enough, there is a place that they all share. We are on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Known as Fingal’s Cave, it bears a history and geology unlike any other cave in the world. At 22 meters tall and 82 meters deep, what makes this sea cave so visually astoundingly is the hexagonal columns of basalt, shaped in neat six-sided pillars that make…

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Temple of Valadier: a refuge for the souls in Genga – Italy

We are in Italy, in Genga, Marche region, near the magnificent Frasassi Caves dug in limestone by the Sentino river. Here an elegant octagonal church rises among the pointed and beveled rocks of a gorge between the mountains: it is the Temple of Valadier. The Temple, designed by Giuseppe Valadier (Rome, 1762-1839), cuts a striking neo-classical silhouette against the rough hewn edges of the surrounding natural cave walls, looking like the temple itself was trying to seek refuge in the cave. In reality it was the local population that has…

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Năsal: a delicious Transylvanian Cheese

We are in Romania. Năsal is a traditional local cheese bearing the same name as the village where it is produced in the Țaga commune, Cluj County. The soft and creamy cheese has been smear-ripened in caves since the Middle Ages. According to a Transylvanian legend, the commune of Țaga was once controlled by a wealthy, cruel count. Under his rule, the people starved and, to feed themselves, one day, some farmers were forced to steal the count’s cheese for their children. They hid it in a cave near the…

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Armenia: the architectural beauty of the Geghard monastery

We are in Armenia’s Upper Azat Valley, east of Yerevan. At the turn of the fourth century, only this nation in the world had accepted Christianity as its official religion, led by Gregory the Illuminator, who had been forced to flee to modern-day Turkey. During this time, he was introduced to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and, years later, he brought them back with him to Armenia. His goal was to convert the King Tiridates III, and thus force the conversion of the entire country. While he was imprisoned for…

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In the Footsteps of wizard Merlin: Tintagel castle and underneath cave

High on the jagged cliffs of England’s southwestern coastline lies not only the remains of an abandoned castle but the mythical birthplace as well of one of most popular legends: King Arthur. And in the coastal cliffs beneath Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, lies an echoingly atmospheric cave. But, if the stories of old are to be believed, the cave may once have been home to Merlin, the popular wizard of Arthurian legend. Tintagel Castle has long been linked with King Arthur, as far back as Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his…

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France: Les Grottes Pétrifiantes which turn everyday objects into stone.

These limestone grottoes, located in Savonnières, France, in the heart of Touraine, turns everyday objects into stone and were used as former quarries of limestone in the Middle Ages. Objects left for six months to a year under the mineral-rich springs of the petrifying grottoes emerge coated in a perfectly pure white layer of limestone. At Savonnières, the infiltration groundwater is highly charged with calcium carbonate and since the mid-nineteenth century have been “tamed” to develop the petrification. By an extraordinary alchemy, the water loaded with calcium carbonate drips slowly…

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The Intriguing History of Predjama Castle, Slovenia, built into the side of a cave

The wonderful Predjama Castle, Slovenia, seems like it belongs in a fantasy world, but the real history behind this Renaissance castle is much more interesting than its exterior charm. It has been built into the mouth of a cave and sits about 10 kilometers from the village of Postojna in south-central Slovenia, and tells a picturesque story about the times when comfort had to give way to safety, and when the clatter of weapons would often drown out troubadours’ songs. Surprisingly, the current castle isn’t the first building to sit…

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Blue Hawk Mine~

Unlike many reclaimed, abandoned mines, this Canadian cave system is still an interesting, dangerous maze. This is the Blue Hawk Mine, in woods of British Columbia, a rare example of abandoned mine that has not been turned into a boring attraction for adventurous tourists, but is still a dangerous and enigmatic abandoned site. It is located on the east slope of Blue Grouse Mountain, on the west side of Okanagan Lake, just a few kilometres from Downtown Kelowna. Historically the mine began operation in the 1934, but only produced ore…

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The Eyes of God (Проходна)

Prohodna, in bulgarian Проходна, is one of the best known caves in Bulgaria, a country full of caves, and is located in the Iskar Gorge, one of largest karst regions, 2 km away from Karlukovo Village and 112 km away from Sofia. If it’s so famous, is especially thanks to the strange symmetrical holes in the cave’s ceiling, which offers a rather striking subterranean image. Known as “the Eyes of God”, these holes are located in the middle chamber of the cave, long 262 meter, illuminating the interior and providing…

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