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The Ialomitei Cave, dubbed the Kings’ Cave, also known as the Ialomitei Hermitage Cave, is situated in the town of Moroieni, Dambovita County, between the Padina Cabin and the Pestera Hotel, on the right side of the Ialomitei Gorges, at an altitude of 1,660 metres.

Photo credit: www.crestinortodox.ro

It was dug by the Horoaba Stream, a tributary of the Ialomita River, in Late Jurassic, in the limestone of the southeastern ridge of Mt. Batrana. It is still one of the tourist landmarks of Mt. Bucegi and even Romania.

Photo credit:ontheroad.ro

The cave has always been a tourist attraction. The first bibliographic record of it dates back to 1793, in a book on Transylvanian caves by I. Kleinlauf. In 1897, it was considered the largest underground cave in the Romanian Principalities. In 1953, a detailed plan of it was drawn up by a team led by Mihai Serban and Iosif Viehman and published in 1974 in the bulletin of the Emil Racovita Speleology Club.

The Ialomitei Cave has both galleries and halls, and its unfoldment is mixed going on for about 480 m on a single level, of which 400 m are accessible to tourists to the point called Altar, followed upstream by a portion of another 80 m, galleries and halls. Among the halls, there are the Mihnea Voda, Decebal, St. Mary, At Crossroads, At the Altar halls, the Hidden Grotto and the Bear Grotto, where skeletons of cave bears were found.

Photo credit: www.crestinortodox.ro

Upon entering the Ialomitei Cave, visitors are greeted by the Ialomitei Monastery, dedicated to Saint Apostles Peter and Paul, built in the sixteenth century, by ruler of Wallachia Mihnea Voda the Evil. Legend has it that the ruler took shelter here for a while, on his way to exile in Transylvania (1510) and founded this place of worship to thank God for having escaped the Ottomans. The monastery burned down several times (four times in four hundred years), but it was rebuilt each time and a wing of monk cells was added, which cornerstone was laid by Archbishop Vasile Costin of Targoviste in 1993. The story of the monastery goes back in time to ancient times, with legend having it that St. Andrew himself, the founder of the Romanian Orthodox faith, took shelter here for a time.

Entrance to the cave is above an old cemetery of the local monks that lived here centuries ago. The gravestone on one of the tombs is always hot. Dowsers have found the place imbued with energy, but they cannot tell the nature of the energy or what generates the vibrations detected inside the cave.

The semi-elliptical mouth of the cave opens to a horizontal terrace 18 m above the valley floor. The first hall of the cave called Mihnea Voda is 115 meters long, 15 metres wide and 10-25 meters high. Before 1924, the Pesterii River would flow through the cave. Today, the river goes underground before reaching the grotto and flows far below into the Ialomita.

Photo credit: magiamuntelui.blogspot.ro

Next is the Passage Gallery, 20 meters long and 1-8m wide. At the entrance to this gallery there is a metal gate, beyond which unguided access is forbidden. It is a wide corridor 1-2 m wide and 1.5 — 2 m high that leads to the dome-shaped Decebal Halls, which open to several galleries, including the St. Mary Grotto thus named because of the likeness of its stalagmites with a statute of the Virgin Mary.

St. Mary Grotto
Photo credit: magiamuntelui.blogspot.ro

The largest and most spectacular part of the cave is the Bears’ Hall, devoid of water and having a rocky soil. When it was discovered, bones were found in the soil proving that about 10,000 years before, this was probably the last refuge of Ursus Spelacus Blum cave bear. From the Bears’ Hall, a 2-m high gallery opens up to the Bottom of the Cave, which once contained columns joining the roof to the soil. Next is the Water Gallery that runs to the Altar.

Grotă în Peștera Ialomiței
Foto: magiamuntelui.blogspot.ro

Legend has it that the Altar was used by monks in ancient times for religious services. The positioning of the stalactites creates the illusion of a church altar. A cave stream called the ‘fountain of living water’ that is said to be Dacian holy water without bacteria or nitrates flows here. It is assumed that the underground spring flows over massive silver deposits that give the water maximum purity, while scientists argue purity is due to geo-magnetic anomalies. Also here there is a wish-fulfilling rock about which legend has it that it was given by god Zamolxe to humans.

As far as the local fauna is concerned, there are representatives of almost all groups of fauna living in Romania’s caves, notably a species of troglomorphic coleopterans, Duvalius (Duvaliotes) procerus, which spreads outside to the mountains around Brasov.

Air temperature in galleries ranges between 9 to 12 ° C, and humidity is 85 — 100%.

The cave has wooden walkways and stairs, and it is partially electrified. It is open to visitors all year long in guided tours. AGERPRES

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