What is the biggest cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Bosnia and Herzegovina, known for its rich natural diversity and cultural heritage, hides some of the most magical natural wonders in the Balkans.

One such wonder is the Vjetrenica cave, the largest and most famous cave in the country, located in the town of Zavala in the southeastern part of Herzegovina, on the western edge of Popovo polje, in the municipality of Ravno.

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Vjetrenica Cave, Photo: InDoRoN

 

The Vjetrenica cave impresses with its imposing scale, with a total of 7,014 meters of underground channels discovered. This speleological paradise offers visitors the opportunity to explore the spacious corridors and halls, admire the numerous accumulations of icicles, and observe the rich hydrographic world.

In the heart of the cave, there are lakes, waterfalls, permanent and dozens of smaller periodic streams flowing in various directions.

 

The internal air temperature in the cave is a constant 11.4°C, while the water is slightly cooler at 11.3°C. This combination creates a natural climate that is especially welcome in the hot summer months.

However, what sets the Vjetrenica cave apart from other speleological sites is the appearance of a strong wind at the entrance, which further enriches the visitor’s experience. After all, it got its name after that wind.

 

 

Vjetrenica Cave is not only a natural wonder, but also an archaeological gem. Numerous archaeological findings dating back thousands of years were found on its walls. Among these findings, the remains of bear and leopard bones stand out, testifying to the rich faunal composition of this area in past times.

Drawings older than 10,000 years were also discovered, which further emphasizes the cultural importance of the cave.

 

Vjetrenica Cave, Photo: Toni Boras, Dreamstime.com

 

Vjetrenica is also the richest cave in the world in terms of underground biodiversity, due to the 91 found troglobionts (animals completely adapted to life underground). Among the more than two hundred different species registered in it, a large number of them are narrowly endemic, 15 are stenoendemic, and about 37 have just been discovered and described in Vjetrenica for the first time.

 

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