Topolnița Cave

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Topolnița Cave
Topolnițsa Cave
Map showing the location of Topolnița Cave
Map showing the location of Topolnița Cave
Location of the cave in Romania
Location Mehedinți County, Romania
Coordinates 44°49′05.9″N 22°33′46.6″E / 44.818306°N 22.562944°E / 44.818306; 22.562944Coordinates: 44°49′05.9″N 22°33′46.6″E / 44.818306°N 22.562944°E / 44.818306; 22.562944
Length 11–20.5 km (6.8–12.7 mi)
Elevation 453 m (1,486 ft)[1]
Discovery V. Dumitrescu (1880)
Entrances 4
Access Once a year (August)
Cave survey Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology (1962)

Topolnița Cave (Romanian: Peștera Topolnița) is a karst cave located in Mehedinți County, Romania.[2] It is the fourth-longest cave in Romania: only Peștera Vântului, Humpleu-Poienița Cave, and Hodobana Cave are longer.[3][4] Most speleological sources estimate its length at 20.5 km (12.7 mi).[5][6][7] Some Romanian news sources report a more conservative 11,000 metres (36,000 ft).[8][9] It is considered a natural monument of Romania.[10]

The cave was first historically documented in 1880 by V. Dumitrescu.[9] The first serious attempt at scientific exploration was made in 1956 by Professor Sever Popescu of Turnu Severin. Finally, specialists from the Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology at the Romanian Academy began true systematic exploration in 1962.[8]


Topolnița Cave is located at 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Drobeta-Turnu Severin, between the villages of Marga and Cireșu.[8] It has at least four entrances.[6] The cave's primary entrance is in the central part of the Mehedinți Plateau, where the Topolnița River plunges 50 m (160 ft) down into the earth.[2] The river later emerges farther downstream at the foot of a hill.

Topolnița Cave has a huge number of passages and galleries arranged over five floors, many of which have attracted fanciful names as a result of the speleothems that have formed in them.[8] One of the largest galleries, at 1,570 m (5,150 ft) long, is named the Racoviță Gallery in honor of Emil Racoviță, a noted Romanian explorer.[2][11] Other features within the cave include lakes, waterfalls, rapids, and massive forests of stalactites and stalagmites.[9] Neolithic remains have also been found within the cave.[9]

Cave access[edit]

Best described as "labyrinthine", Topolnița Cave is a difficult cave to explore even for experienced cavers.[12][13] Access for tourists is permitted only once per year, on a feast day in August, where guides lead tours 100 m (330 ft) into the cave to view the Racoviță Gallery.[9][14] Otherwise, the cave is gated and access is only available by permission of the Romanian Academy.[11] In the 1980s, there was some government interest in adding tourist-access features such as stairs, railings, and electric lights, but funding fell through before the Romanian Revolution and nothing was completed.[14]


The cave's temperature hovers between 8.2–10.8 °C (46.8–51.4 °F), making it a relatively warm cave.[8] As a result, it is a suitable habitat for some fauna, including the largest colony of greater horseshoe bats in Europe.[15] A 2015 survey conducted as part of an effort to protect Romania's bats found 7,482 individual horseshoe bats living in the cave.[15]

In 2009, a pair of bearded vultures was spotted at the cave by hunters. The sighting was treated with some excitement, as the bearded vulture is no longer extant in Romania.[16]

Plenty of invertebrate species live in or around Topolnița Cave. Specimens of Clausiliidae, or door snails, such as Macedonica marginata, have been found in the cave.[17] A number of species of Opiliones, colloquially known as harvestmen, have been recorded.[18]


  1. ^ Google Maps Elevation Finder
  2. ^ a b c Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 386. ISBN 0-89577-087-3.
  3. ^ "All you have to know about caving in Romania". Travel Guide Romania. 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  4. ^ "Statistici interesante despre peşterile din România. |". (in Romanian). Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  5. ^ "Peştera Topolniţa |". (in Romanian). Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  6. ^ a b Courbon, Paul (1989). Atlas of the Great Caves of the World. Cave Books. ISBN 9780939748211.
  7. ^ Gunn, John (2004). Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781579583996.
  8. ^ a b c d e "O minune puţin cunoscută – Peştera Topolniţa a doua ca lungime din România". (in Romanian). 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  9. ^ a b c d e "REPORTAJ MEHEDINȚI : Peștera Topolnița – sărbătoarea lumii din adâncurile pământului – AGERPRES" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  10. ^ Rennon, Rosemary (2007). Language and Travel Guide to Romania. Hippocrene Books. p. 371. ISBN 9780781811507.
  11. ^ a b "Topolnita, the second longest cave in Romania – The Romania Journal". Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  12. ^ Geologica Balcanica. Izd-vo na Bŭlgarskata akademii︠a︡ na naukite. 1996.
  13. ^ "Pestera Topolnita, Pesteri Romania". Archived from the original on 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  14. ^ a b "Peștera Topolnița își deschide porțile duminică – Mehedințeanul – Media online". Mehedințeanul – Media online (in Romanian). 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  15. ^ a b "A record-breaking bat discovery in Romania | Fauna & Flora International". Archived from the original on 2016-02-24. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  16. ^ "O familie de zăgani a fost văzută la Peştera Topolniţei" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  17. ^ Loosjes, F. E., and A. Negrea. "Contributions to the distribution of the Clausiliidae (Gastropoda, Pulmonta) in the Karst regions of Romania." Zool. Meded 43.4 (1968): 41–55. Via Google Scholar.
  18. ^ Ilie, Victoria. "A check-list of the harvestmen (Opilionida) from the Romanian caves." Archives of Biological Sciences 54.1–2 (2002): 49–55. Via Google Scholar.