The Devil’s Throat Cave (Dyavolsko garlo Cave)
Devil’s Throat Cave is located in the Western Rhodopes, 17 km from the city of Devin. It is among those caves that do not offer dazzlingly exquisite rock formations. What entrances visitors is the possibility of embarking on a real journey of discovery, partaking of a mysterious and awe-inspiring underground kingdom. The cave’s entrance resembles a devil’s head, and down its throat rushes a massive waterfall that from ancient times has captivated imaginations and given birth to numerous legends.
The most popular of these is that Orpheus descended down this orifice to the subterranean kingdom of Hades, to seek his lost love Eurydice.
The cave descends straight down without branching in either direction. The water from the Trigrad River falls from a height of 42 meters down the cave’s “throat”, making it the highest underground waterfall on the Balkan Peninsula. Because of the muffled roar of the waterfall, the cavern into which it falls is known as The Hall of Thunder. It is enormous – the second larges cavern in Bulgaria. Roughly 400 meters from the entrance the water disappears down a funnel. This funnel is more than 150 meters deep, and when it emerges from the funnel into another cavern about 60 meters long, the underground river exits the cave and flows out among the mountain peaks through another cave.
It is an arresting fact that nothing carried into The Devil’s Mouth Cave by the river emerges back from it. Many attempts have been made to track pieces of wood and other material through the cave, but they all vanish without a trace on the underground river, arousing curiosity and tantalizing the imagination. Experiments performed with dyes have shown that it takes more than 1½ hours for the water to traverse the short distance from one opening to the next, fueling speculations about an extensive system of underground streams in the cave.
The tourist itinerary begins in an artificial gallery that leads visitors along the waterfall into the “Hall of Thunder.” There are 301 breathtaking steps descending alongside the roaring falls. The view of the roiling water, its muffled roar, and the enormous expanse of the cavern below is undeniably sublime. Handrails protect the entire route. There are three carvings in the walls of the caves that are particularly noteworthy. The first is a likeness of a devil’s head located near the entrance to the cave, just before entering the Hall of Thunder. The second is the full figure of a man done in a Classical style, carved into the rock face of the Hall of Thunder. Approaching the exit, a small fountain is visible with a recessed altar that supports the figure of The Virgin.
The best time to visit is in late spring and summer when the entrance to the cave is surrounded by invigorating greenery and the Rhodopes are most inviting. The local spelunkers’ club organizes descents into the caves in boats from the beginning of May to the end of October. The club provides the necessary equipment – boats, life jackets, and life preservers.
These descents are arranged for three people and an instructor.
The entrance to the caves is only allowed with a tour guide.
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