Koněprusy Caves

 

By Tracy A. Burns

Caves in the Czech Republic

While some tourists discover the chateaus and castles in the Czech Republic, most overlook the plethora of caves that fascinate viewers with rich stalagmite and stalactite decoration, often taking grotesque forms in an Alice in Wonderland type of setting. Breathtaking rock formations resemble waterfalls, castle ruins and owls, for example. In the country there are almost 3,500 caves, 14 of which are accessible to the public. In many cases, it is worth exploring the depths that whisper about the long-ago past and even contain remains of prehistoric man.

Koněprusy Caves

The Koněprusy Caves (Koněpruské jeskyně, open from April through November), only an hour from Prague and seven kilometers from Beroun, definitely merit exploring. First, a little cave vocabulary is in order: stalactites hang down from the roof of a cave, while stalagmites point upwards from the floor of a cave.

Karlstejn Castle Tours from Prague

Prehistoric animals, stalactites, stalagmites…

These caves feature the largest system of caves in Bohemia. Bones of prehistoric animals have been unearthed here. The stalactite and stalagmite ornamentation is thrilling; one cave even used to be a medieval money forgers’ workshop in the 15th century. Some stalactites take the shape of an organ; Eternal Desire is composed of stalactite and stalagmite spikes that are almost touching, and another formation appears as white gushing water, stopped in time. Perhaps Prošek’s House is the most stunning. In one cave a certain formation could depict a rock-made window frame overlooking a grotesque landscape of quills, resembling swords, pointing down from the roof. Nearby a stalagmite appears to be a sandcastle, seemingly so fragile that it could be broken any second. Another shape on the ceiling looks like a gaping mouth about to swallow the viewer. In the waterfall, one sees the droplets of water gushing down, stopped for eternity.

Tour of the Koněprusy Caves

The caves, discovered in 1950 and opened to the public in 1959, are also known for the 1,500-year old Koněprusy Roses stalactite formation that is found there. It is the only place in the world where this sort of ornamentation has been discovered. The one-hour tour covers 620 meters. Accessible by public transportation, the caves are reachable from Prague by train to Beroun and then by shuttle bus going directly to the caves. While tours are usually in Czech, English speakers are given a text informing them about the sights. If you want to take photos, you have to pay extra for the privilege.


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