The Castellana Caves (in Italian Grotte di Castellana) are one of the most important attractions of Puglia and constitute a natural heritage of inestimable value.
Located near the town of Castellana Grotte, a few kilometers from charming villages such as Alberobello and Polignano a Mare, the Castellana Caves began to form about 90 million years ago. It is a complex of underground caves of karstic origin that extends for a length of 3348 meters and reaches a maximum depth of 122 meters from the surface.
The beauty of the Castellana Caves attracts tourists from all over the world with over 15 million visitors since their opening to the public. The guided tour covers a distance of 3 km at a 70 meters depth in a fantastic scenery made of stalactites, stalagmites, concretions of incredible shapes, fossils, canyons and caves with fantastic names. In hundreds of millions of years, nature has shaped the rock into fantastic forms in which children (and others) like to recognize something or someone.
If you are on holiday in Puglia and you are thinking of going down into the magical world of underground cavities, here are the 5 things you need to know about the Castellana Caves.
1. The discovery of the entire system of chasms and cavities that constitute the Caves of Castellana dates back to 23 January 1938 by the speleologist Franco Anelli. The discovery took place through the Greve, the entrance abyss of the Caves. The Greve, in ancient times, instilled a sense of anguish and fear because it was considered the entrance to hell.
2. The humidity in the caves is around 90% and the temperature is around 17 ° C and is stable throughout the year, so if you are on holiday in Puglia in the summer and you feel the need to escape for a few hours from the scorching heat, this could be a good (indeed, a beautiful) option.
3. The tour includes two possible routes: the first one is 1 km long and lasts 50 minutes; the second one is 3 km long and lasts almost two hours, after which you will reach the charming White Cave (in italian Grotta Bianca), so named because of the whiteness of alabaster. For more information and reservations (recommended in high season) visit the Castellana Caves website.
4. A research carried out in the past years showed still several meters of land under the point of maximum depth and, moreover, a surface geophysical research made it possible to hypothesize the existence of new cave branches, which they would emanate from the initial chasm. The history of the Caves cannot, therefore, be said to be concluded and, perhaps, in the future there will be a confirmation about the results of a pioneering expedition of the eighteenth century, during which some explorers would have seen caves different from those known today.
5. Since 2008 the Castellana Caves have hosted Hell in the Cave, a dance, sound and theater show on the verses of Dante’s Inferno. This has been defined by many as the largest underground air show in the world. For information and reservations visit the Hell in the Cave website.