Franz Lindenmayr / Mensch und Höhle
Jama Baredine, Istrien
This is the translated text of the show cave guide written by Peter Hofmann and translated by me. It has been never used, so I put it at least a while on the internet. Das deutsche Original ist war Peter Hofmanns Homepage Expedition in die Unterwelt und war dort abrufbar.
The touristic cave Jama Baredine
Jama Baredine means translated Cave on the fallow land. The word Jama means in Croatian (in contrast to the Slovenian usage) shaft cave, that is a cave, which partially leads down vertically. Nowadays the visitor can climb down 221 steps into a depth of 60 meters without any danger and covers about 150 m of an easy passageway, which lasts about an hour. Thanks to the skillfully chosen electrical lighting he can admire the partially exceptional splendid, varied and enormous calcite formations.
Also archaeological remains and the Proteus, an animal which is rarely shown to visitors in other caves, can be watched.
Thats why Jama Baredine, the one and only show cave of Istria, takes up such an exceptional rank among the show caves and makes a visit an impressive and exciting experience.
It wasnt obviously always that easy to visit the cave.
The cave was known for good. Elderly inhabitants of the area often report, that they have been in their youth in the cave. Fairly easy, with the help of a ladder at the entrance, formerly you could get to the first chamber .
The very important archeological findings proof, that also prehistoric men had connections with the cave. There are more scientific investigations necessary to wrap off the last secrets.
In 1926 a group of cavers from Triest found its way for the first time down to a depth of 80 meters.
It was 1974 when the cave was explored and surveyed again by a group of young cavers from Porec under the direction of the present owner and cave guide Silvio Legovic to the full extension of 116 m of depth. (The group was organized as speleo club Proteus two years later.)
The development for a show cave began in 1994 and finished in 1996.
Since that the cave has a constantly increasing number of visitors and offers to them an insight into the world of caves and Karst.
There are many legends about caves - also a proof, that men dealt with caves also in former times. A legend from the 13th century reports of a really dramatic event:
The nobleman Gabriel fell in love with the beautiful female shepherd Milka from Nova Vas. When the evil mother of Gabriel didnt succeed in destroying her sons love, she instructed three bandits, to kill the beautiful mistress secretly and gave them three gold coins for the killing. The bandits didnt kill the maid, they only threw her into the cave. Gabriel came to know of the cruel fate of his sweetheart, jumped on his horse and disappeared. His horse was later found at a second cave nearby.
The petrified body of the unhappy Milka is still to be seen in the Jama Baredine. According to the legend it slides constantly deeper into the cave until it is one day unified with the lover forever.
...and its visit
Lets go at last to the visit of the cave itself.
Only a few steps are necessary to get from the hut to the entrance of the cave, that proves immediately the shaft character of the cave. There are at first a few steps hewn into the rock, then you have to go down 15 meters over iron stairs.
We arrive at the entrance hall with dimensions of 6 x 15 meters and the first enlargement of the way. The ceiling is here about 10 meter high and first deposits of stalagmites can be seen, which, as in many other places of the cave, attract attention through their red color. Their origin lies in the infiltration of red earth (Terra Rossa) which is typically for the surface of this region.
We go down a little bit further where we see in a display some findings from the cave, presumably about 4000 years old. The cave was never inhabited by man, but they came perhaps for the collection of water into it.
This would explain that a jar had such an unusual size: a piece of it seems to be the edge of a bowl of at least a diameter of 1 ½ meters.
We continue to go down the boulder slope, the original cave floor is a lot more deeper., material from outside has filled up the entrance part very much.
Then we pass through some draperies. The ceiling lowers and we arrive at the Red Hall. The calcite formations of the cave become more and more beautiful. Specialties are completely white crystals, which show up at different places. At the left-hand wall in half height they form a whole line.
At the bottom of the Red Hall we stand in front of a huge boulder of about 40 m³, which fell from the ceiling a long, long time ago. The ceiling is about 25 meters above the floor at this place. You can also see there for the first time the original cave floor. The walls are completely covered by calcite. At the left-hand wall it has the form of cauliflower. Its interesting that the stalagmites and stalactites shine through, when you hold a light behind them.
Now we have to squeeze through on the right side of a huge rock.
Soon the ceiling lowers down up to 1,70 meters in places. We are now in a real wood of calcite formations. Stalactites which hang from the ceiling and stalagmites which grow upwards from the floor are there in all forms and sizes. The thin from the ceiling hanging straws have given this chamber the name "spaghetti chamber".
The way passes by a beautiful, startling calcite pillar. Directly beside the way we can marvel at formations in 3 colors: red ones, snow white ones and almost black formations grow there side by side.
In the following chamber grows the tower of Pisa.
There is an important detail to be seen at the ceiling, the so called initial channel, the first way of the water, along which the whole cave was formed.
Steps lead down to the fourth chamber. In front of us huge draperies of more than 10 meters of length hang from the ceiling. (Their age is presumably more than 100 000 years, because they grow only a few millimeters in 10 years!)
To the right we look into the Big Shaft, which leads down 60 meters in three steps and is filled with water at the bottom.
There is the habitat of the famous Proteus, the biggest real troglodyte.
As a special attraction we can have a close look at one specimen in a small pool left of the path.
The animal is perfectly adjusted to live in eternal night. It is white because it doesnt need any protection from sunlight. Its eyes became stunted but the constitution is still there. This shows that it lived in former times above ground. It is believed that it fled at the end of ice age into the coolness of the caves. By the way it lives very long - as long as a human being?
But now lets finish our cave trip.
A long, a bit steep staircase demands some attention, but the efforts are rewarded. We stand now in the Hall of Statues, the last room of the cave.
In the end Jama Baredine presents us again a wonderful panorama. The most striking calcite formation is the Snowman, the biggest stalagmite in the cave with more than 2,5 meter of height. Some of the formations are still permanently active, that means they are still sprinkled by running water and are still growing. Such startling formations are especially attractive to watch. A striking example of this kind is the pure white stalactite which resembles the form of a madonna.
After rainfall and in spring there is a little lake formed in the hall, which increases the magic of this room.
Its time now for the visitor, to return on the same way to the exit of the cave.
Excursions in the Karst
Has the interesting world of the Karst with its subterranean secrets evoked your interest?
Then use the opportunity for an excursion to the other sights of our interesting landscape!
You are at the southern corner of one of the most renowned caving areas of the world. There are more than 1.100 caves in Istria alone.
There are indications everywhere that the country is "karstic". That means, that the rock under your feet consists of limestone, which can is solved by water in a chemical process. The water takes in the calcium and forwards it. The caves are created in this way. The opposite process of deposition forms later the calcite formations.
You can see signs for this dissolving process often there, where the rock is exposed to the surface. It shows everywhere small-scale solutional sculptures, the so-called Karren.
Further typical karst formations are dolines, dish and bowl shaped, conical and cylindrical, circular or oval in plan, which pepper the plateau surface.
You will often notice them, e.g. along the road to Pazin, between Baderna and Tinjan.
Amid the town of Pazin is the most spectacular karst feature of Istria. A huge pothole with a diameter of 130 meters and the same depth opens in front of the visitor. On three sides the rock walls drop almost vertically, above is the castle of Pazin enthroned. The gorge is a sinkhole. At the lowest part disappears the river Fojba in the underground. At the bridge, which spans over the open side of the funnel, begins a footpath, which leads down the wonder of nature, which you should really visit.
Do you have any further questions? They will of course all be answered by your cave guide. For especially interested persons can excursions through the Karst be arranged by agreement.