These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Dobšina Ice Cave

By Daniel J. Stoll

 photo: Chris Togneri

Visitors to Slovenský raj should include a half-day in their itinerary to see Dobšiná ice cave. It's especially convenient for tourists making their base in Dedinky or Mlynky, as it's just a 15-minute bus ride from either village (regular buses also run from Poprad, stopping near the cave's entrance).

To suit the many visitors seeking the cold underground, numerous tourist-like buildings lie scattered beside the turn-off that leads to the cave. Old women sell fruit and handmade cloth at the foot of a steep two-kilometre walk to the entrance. Tours are given in Slovak but can be arranged in German or English, if there is a large enough group.

Once assembled, groups of 20 to 40 people accompany a guide through an iron door into the mysterious ice cave. Formed 7,000 to 9,000 years ago under the wet limestone that covers Slovenský raj, a subterranean shift buried the rock that had been carved for thousands of years by glacial rivers.

The cave's average temperature is -1 Celsius (30 Fahrenheit), with a 98% relative humidity, adding up to a perfect place for ice to settle and form.

In 1870, Eugene Ruffini, an Italian naturalist, discovered the cave, whose 25-metre thick floor holds an estimated 145,000 cubic metres of ice. In 1887, Dobšiná was the first cave in Europe to be fitted with electrical lighting. Descending down slippery steps, the cave's icy breath instantly chills your bones. The walls are slick and smooth, cold to the touch and massive. Considering the weight of frozen water carved into giant halls and narrow tunnels is an exhilarating experience.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2001.

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