Caves in Istria
The word speleology, which is a synonymous to potholing, is a compound word consisting of the Ancient Greek word “spelaion” that means a natural underground cavity (cave or hole) and the word “logos” that means science. So, speleology is the science on natural underground caves and holes. French explorer Edouard-Alfred Martel is considered to be a father of speleology, i.e. potholing.
Passing through various rock sediments, water dissolves organic substances and various minerals which separate into various colors and shapes. Limestone formations that are created in the way are from deposits of crystalline calcium carbonate. Depending on their shape and color they have the following names: stalactites, stalagmites, poles, curtains, barks, etc. For example, stalactites are deposits of crystalline calcium carbonate that grows downward, while stalagmites are deposits of crystalline calcium carbonate that grow upwards. Poles are deposits created by connecting stalactites and stalagmites, etc.
Although Baredine Cave is the only cave in Istria that is formally set up for tourism, there are many other underground caves and holes running through its karst landscape. It is possible to visit many of the holes and caves without special speleological (potholing) knowledge and equipment, but there are many others that require more experience and special equipment to catch a glimpse of their underground halls, lakes, streams, abysses, whirlpools, cracks, and petrifactions. Besides the natural beauty of the cave formations, there is a heterogeneous world of flora and fauna in the caves and holes of Istria - fish, frogs, dormice, small crabs, bats, and others. The most interesting of these is the Proteus, an amphibean that is endemic only to these Karst regions.
Pazinska Jama hole is worldwide known Istria hole that has been made famous by Jules Verne after being described in the novel “Mathias Sandorf”. About 1500 holes are already known and each year about ten new ones are discovered. Ćićarija is a distinct Karst region and where can be found the deepest hole of Istria. It is the 361-meters-deep Rašpor abyss. The Krkuž and Gragorinčići abysses are situated in the vicinity of the small town Roča. The longest cave in limestone of younger geologic age is the 1036-meters-long cave Piskovica situated in the central part of the peninsula. There is the Marfanska Jama hole in its vicinity that is 273 meters deep, being the longest one in Istria with its 2045 meters of explored canals. The largest hall is in Batluška Jama cave. The hall dimensions are 200 by 100 meters and 60 meters high.
The northwest part of Istria is special because of a series of abysses in a zone of limestone deposits of a younger geologic age. The 231-meters deep abyss near Šterna is very picturesque and is especially beautiful during the rainy period when there is a beautiful waterfall that makes a lake at the bottom of the funnel-shaped depression before it sinks into the earth. There is an old abandoned mill in the vicinity.
The west zone of western Istria is especially interesting. It is covered with red soil, so underground stalagmites, stalactites and crystals are very often unmistakeably red. Besides the holes, the caves are also in very interesting potholing locations. Because of their accessibility, the remains of human and animal found in them reach into the distant past and therefore are of archeological and paleontology interest. Among these are: Šandalja, Vergotinova, Romualdova and Trogrla.
Among the best known caves in Croatia to speleologists are three Istrian caves:
On the list of the longest caves in present-day Croatia - ranging from 1,016 to 16,396 meters - are the following in Istria:
Among the deepest caves in Croatia - ranging from 250 to 1,392 meters - are the following in Istria:
Other Istrian caves: