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The Women's Cave - Peştera Muierilor
This is the exit from The Women's cave, (Peştera Muierilor) near Polovragi, a cave about 7 km long, made by the Galbenu river (yellow river). In the 19th century, when the Turkish army entered Romania, many women, children and the elderly ran to this cave to hide.
Photo: Adrian Gheorghe
Cave bear bones from Peştera Muierilor. The second of these three photographs shows (on the right hand side of the photo) a stalagmite which has grown on a cave bear bone resting on the floor of the cave.
Photo: Adrian Gheorghe
Here, in the great room, Sala Mare, of the cave, there is a tunnel to the outside, a chimney in the roof, where the smoke from people's fires exited to the outside air, keeping the air in the cave sweet, in the period when they lived in the cave, during the war with the Turks, and the women and children ate and slept there.
Photo: Adrian Gheorghe
A Turkish warrior, as shown at http://www.tinpeople.com.ru/catalog/
The Vaulted Hall.
After the Guano Hall, is a 15 m gallery, where the ceiling is again very low (almost 1 m), "painted" with calcite-apatite, giving it a silvery sheen - the Silver Ceiling. Next is the Vaulted Hall where the ceiling is high and on semicylindric arches. On the right of this hall is the entrance to the south lower level which cannot be visited by the public because it is a scientific reservation. This is called the "Bears Gallery", because here were found many Ursus spelaeus or cavebear skeletons.
In this cemetery of prehistoric animals were identified skeletal remains of hyenas, lions, foxes, wild goats, wolves, wild boars; here also are a calcite hall with beautiful veils such as "Woman's Veil" and the "Pearl Hall" with many natural beauties; arriving at the last passage we find the Mousterian Hall, where were found Neanderthal cultural objects.
Photo: Adrian Gheorghe
From Dr. Adrian Gheorghe:
Peştera Muierilor is called the Women's Cave because around 1800 many of the Romanian people of this area, especially women, children and the aged ran from the face of the Turkish army and hid in the cave. At one part of the cave there is a hole in the roof which served as a chimney for the exit of smoke from cooking fires.
In the cave were found 183 cave bear skeletons and also the head of an ancient woman. The cave was made by the Yellow River, the Rilul Galbenu, and is situated in the north part of Oltenia Region, in Gorg County, near the town Pologravi which is in the Paring Mountains, part of the Southern Carpathians.
Text below adapted from
Baia de Fier, Gorj county. In southern part of the Mountains of Paring, in the karst area Polovragi-Cernadia. From the road Târgu Jiu to Râmnicu Vâlcea turn left in Poenari, 7km to Baia de Fier. The cave is located at the entrance of Galbenul river gorges.
The cave is 3566 metres long, and the Guided tours are over a distance of 573 metres.
Gabriel Diaconu et al (1980): Peştera Muierilor. 44 pp 67 photos.
The name Women's Cave was given to this cave by the people from Baia de Fier. In the old times, when the men fought in frequent wars, the women (and children) were hiding in the cave. So it became the women's cave.
The cave has four levels. The upper level, 40 m above the ground of the gorge is open to the public.
The cave was formed by the water of the river Galbenul. Every level of the cave represents one stage of the river cutting its valley into the limestone rocks.
A cupola in the chamber named the Little Dome, is home to a bat colony.
Text below adapted from:
Muierilor CaveMuierilor Cave (women's cave), is a beautiful natural monument, geographically situated in the Getic Depression of Oltenia, in the territory of Baia de Fier village, Gorj county.
There is an asphalt road about 7 km long starting to the left of the road that connects Târgu Jiu to Râmnicu Vâlcea, in Poenari village towards Baia de Fier village, situated at the entrance of Galbenul river gorges.
Crossing the Jurasic and Lower Cretaceous limestones, the Galbenul river has dug on the right side of the gorge the most visited speleological objective in Romania. Among the thousands of caves from the Carpathian Mountains few have such a rich past as this cave has.
The name, given by the people from Baia de Fier, comes from the fact, that in the old times, with frequent wars, when the men were gone to fight, the women and children hid in the cave, transformed into a shelter, well protected and undiscovered by the invaders.
The galleries which resulted after the karstification of the limestones due to the infiltration of the water of the Galbenul river, on the fracture line from NNW to SSE, are about 3600 m long and are dispersed over 4 levels. The lower level is divided into two sectors: the North (1500 m) and the South (880 m) with scientific importance, being a speleological reservation and unaccessible for tourists.
The upper level, at 40 m altitude up from the valley, is composed of a horizontal gallery, 573 m long, electrified and arranged for visitors, which crosses the limestone band on all its length and to which is added, for a length of 1228 m, a barely accessible network of galleries.
Entering the Northern access way we arrive after almost 20 m in a zone rich with stalactites on the ceiling making a compact mass of 'icicles'. Under the decorated ceiling is a majestic stalagmitic form which is like organ pipes.
Not far from here a gallery is an opening which leads to the Northern sector of the lower level, but access is very diffult even for specialists.
Following the lit main gallery may be seen a sanctuary. At our feet a stalagmite rises like a Gothic cupola, called the Little Dome. On the left is the Altar Hall. One may imagine the image of a sacrifice in the Blooded Rock a fine emboidery of iron oxide flows. Next is the Cupola, 17 m high, where a bat colony emits a sound like a bell. To the East, behind many rocks, there is the Eastern entrance on the steep side of Galbenul Gorges.
The main gallery goes further to the South where there are many spectacular stalagmites which when touched with a hard object makes sounds like an electronic organ. At a few metres, in a high and wide hall is a restored cave bear skeleton (Ursus spelaeus). There follows a zone with many water puddles, specially during spring. The ceiling is becoming menacingly lower (less then a metre) and next is a stoned waterflow.
A few metres down a big hall, the 'Turk's Hall', is a stalagmitic formation like an Oriental mantle with a fez on the head - the Turk. Here huge stalagmites, domes, and ceiling concretions take curious forms named: 'Odalisque', 'Santa Claus', 'Big Dome', 'Wounded Hen Hawk' etc.
A deviation to the left takes us to the 'Wonders Hall' with an infinity of forms, sizes, colours. Columns and odd figures make unbelievable images. Back to the Turk Hall passing through the gate, one arrives in a place where the ceiling is at 80 cm height, and next in the Guano Hall with a network of galeries, is a refuge for the fauna of the cave.
The bat colonies add to the gray ceiling black spots. Excepting the bat species - Myotis sp., Miniopterus sp. and Rhinolophus sp. - the cave fauna is composed of millipedes, pseudoscorpions, spiders and many lower invertebrates.
After the Guano Hall, is a 15 m gallery, where the ceiling is again very low (almost 1 m), "painted" with calcite-apatite, giving it a silvery touch - the 'Silver Ceiling'. Next is the 'Vaults Hall' where the ceiling is high and on semicylindric arches. On the right of this hall is the entrance in the South lower level which cannot be visited since it is a scientific reserve, containing what is known as the 'Bears Gallery', because here were found many cave bear or Ursus spelaeus skeletons. In this cemetery of prehistoric animals were indentified skeletal remains from hyenas, lions, foxes, wild goats, wolves, wild boars; here are also a calcite hall with beautiful veils, 'Woman's Veil' and the 'Pearl Hall' with many natural beauties. Arriving at the last gallery is the Musterian Hall, where were found cultural objects, proof of human life from thousands of years BC.).
The top gallery continues with a great hall where there is a hole in the roof communicating with the exterior, called the 'Cave Chimney', probably because of the fire that burned here in the middle of this hall. Exiting through the Southern way, one can get down to the Galbenul river valley on a concrete path, which has railings for support and security.
Alexis Project Filiasi/Romania
RC J/263/230/2007 CIF 21464151