Ukraine is known for its karst caves. The most popular among tourists, “The Cinderella” (also known as “The Emil Racovita”) cave is truly a unique natural wonder. The entrance to the cave is located on the territory of Moldova, in Criva village. However, the bulk of its underground tunnels (93 km) is located mostly on the territory of Ukraine.
Discovered in March 1977 by Chernivtsi speleologists headed by Professor V. Korzhyk, Cinderella cave turned out to be the third world’s largest karst cave in the world. Previously, it was completely flooded, but in the middle of the XX century, gypsum (plaster) production began and workers partially drained the cave. The cave has lakes (several dozen) with their own peculiar names: «Blue Lake», «Dinosaur Lake», 12-15m deep wells (a dozen), unique "clay” stalactites of black and red clay. Due to its large size, the cave is being studied until now with new levels and vaults being discovered every year.
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Where such a peculiar name for a cave came from? When first discovered by speleologists, the entrance to the cave was covered in debris and did not impress the group of scientists at all. Only after further exploration they discovered a system of vaults covered with layers of colored clay, which gave fabulous views. Thus the name for the cave – Cinderella came transformed from the little dusty cavern into world’s biggest cave labyrinth of unimaginable beauty. Currently, the clays of green, black, white, blue and red colors could be found on the walls of the cave. Color saturation varies and depends on the content and concentration of minerals. «Cinderella» Cave attracts many professional and amateur speleologists. They have discovered more than 20 underground lakes and vaults so far.
Alongside with its fascinating natural architecture, the Cave has a mystery of its own - a rare bjornescit mineral, its composition being still a subject to scientific research. Before the Cave was discovered, this mineral could be found only in the ocean.
The current explored length of the cave is nearly 93 km, which gives it the right to be considered one of the largest caves in the world and the largest in Ukraine. However, speleologists believe that once explored deeper, Cinderella’s area can reach as much as 1000 square kilometers. The cave is actually a system of large vaults, galleries and wells. Currently three levels, dozens of lakes, canyons and about ten wells are discovered. Most vaults have their own names, such as «a hundred-meter gallery», Cinderella Vault”, «Gallery of hundred columns».
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The underground tunnels do not have trail markers, so unprepared visitors can get lost very easily in this underground labyrinth. One of the biggest caves in the world, Cinderella cave can be visited in small groups with an experienced speleologist guide.
Location: Podvirne Village, Chernivtsi Region, GPS: 48°16’47”N 26°37’49”E