Vjetrenica Cave

Vjetrenica (which means “wind cave” or “blowhole”) is the largest and most important cave of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vjetrenica Cave is also one of the most interesting caves in the Dinaric Alps mountain range, which is famous worldwide for its immense karstic and speleological features. Vjetrenica pecina Cave has been proclaimed the Monument of Nature in 1950 and represents an outstandingly interesting tourist attraction of Herzegovina and perfect option for those who are eager to experience the stunning wonders of nature. The entrance of Vjetrenica Cave is 300 meters away from the village of Zavala, at the western part of the Popovo Polje, in Ravno Municipality in southern Herzegovina. Vjetrenica Cave is only 12 km away from Croatian village of Slano, situated at the Adriatic Coast and 25 km from Dubrovnik and some 30 km away from Trebinje and around 80 km from Mostar. Vjetrenica Cave – Wind Cave was named after an interesting meteorological phenomenon that was observed there. In the summer time when the temperatures are much higher above the cave than in it, a cold air strongly circulates from the cave interior to the exit. The sound of the air coming out from the Vjetrenica cave can be heard a few meters from the opening in the winter, when the outer temperature is lower than the interior one, completely different air circulation is created that is the cold air circulates in the cave where it gets warmer. The currents of the Vjetrenica cave are caused by the differences of the temperature and the air pressure, but they are highly potentiated by the channels in which they occur are related to the topographic surface. During summer a strong blast of cold air blows from its entrance, which is very attractive in the middle of the rocky, hot and waterless terrain. Vjetrenica Cave features constant temperature of 11,4 °C.

The Vjetrenica Cave has been explored and described to a total of about 6.7 km in length of which the main channel is about 2,47 km long. It runs from the edge of Popovo Polje to the south, and on the basis of analysis of the terrain, geologists have predicted that Vjetrenica Cave might stretch right to the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, 15-20 km away from its entrance. Along with the hydrological arguments, this assumption is also supported by the “unnatural” end of Vjetrenica Cave in the form of a huge heap of stone blocks that have caved in. There are spacious halls and corridors in the Vjetrenica Cave, abundant in stalactite and stalagmite and other forms of the cave jewelry, as well as rich hydrographic world of numerous lakes, several waterfalls, multitude current streams and dozens of smaller periodical courses flowing into various directions. Vjetrenica Cave is the richest cave in the world in terms of subterranean biodiversity: among more than two hundred different species are registered in the cave, almost hundred are troglophiles, a great number of them are narrow endemic, 15 are stenoendemic, and about 37 were discovered and described in Vjetrenica Cave for the first time. Among the many archaeological discoveries of Vjetrenica Cave are the remains of cave bears and leopards, and cave drawings that are estimated to be over 10,000 years old. The mythological side of Vjetrenica is particularly strong, although details have not been well kept. Old texts state that fairies used to dance and sing in the cave – providing actually one of the earliest mentions of Vjetrenica cave – and a mechanism using many sounds is described by which the people of Popovo polje would predict the future. In 2004 Vjetrenica Cave has been nominated for the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.