Peştera Scărişoara is one of the biggest ice caves in the Romanian part of Carpathians, more specifically in the Apuseni Mountains, and shelter a glacier (with an area of almost 5550 square meters, a volume varying between 40000 and 75000 cubic meters, and 26 meters high).
The exact date when the cave was discovered is unknown, but is mentioned in 1863 by the German Adolf Schmidl, who made some observations and the first map. Emil Racoviţă mentioned this cave and how it was born in his work Speleology, which appeared in 1927. According to the scientist Emil Pop, the ice cave was born 3500 years ago, during the glaciations, when these mountains were covered by snow and ice.
The cave is located at an altitude of 1165 metres above sea level. The cave is 105 m deep and 720 m long, the entrance shaft (50 m in diameter and 48 m in depth) giving access through metal stairs to a large chamber, (108 m long, 78 m wide) - The Big Hall. From this point three openings lead to The Church (in front, with over 100 stalagmites), Great Reservation, Coman Gallery (left) and Little Reservation (right). The part that tourists can visit includes the entrance shaft, The Big Hall and The Church, the other chambers being reserved for scientists (and can be visited only with the agreement of the Speological Institute of Cluj-Napoca. The temperature is up to +1°C in the summer and down to -7°C in the winter. In the part for tourists the average temperature is around 0°C.
Bats live in the ice cave, as do small bugs (2-3 mm long) called Pholeuon prozerpinae glaciale. In the Big Reservation a Rupicapra skeleton was discovered.
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