Medvednica Nature Park has many hidden beauties. After a hike in the sunshine around this protected area, descend below ground and visit the Veternica Cave, the home of bats, which deserves the attention for many reasons.
With over seven kilometres of branching channels, Veternica is the sixth largest cave in Croatia, and it keeps “growing” thanks to the expeditions of hardworking speleologists. If you are an amateur, with no special gear or speleology training, you have at your disposal the first 380 metres of the cave. During the hour-long tour, accompanied by an expert Park guide, you will have the chance to discover the beauties and secrets of this pocket of karst on the Medvednica Mountain.
Veternica boasts numerous elements rarely found elsewhere. The guide will draw your attention to the various specificities such as the ceiling domes, cave bear jaws, fossilised mud, the Stone waterfall, Wishing well in the “Concert Hall”, and ancient clam and sea urchin fossils. The cave is said to be the oldest archaeological site in Zagreb – its dark corners hold evidence of the tumultuous life of the past millennia, from the Neanderthals, through Roman soldiers and medieval bandits, all the way to modern-day adventurers and tourists. The ancient inhabitants of the area, the Neanderthal hunters, worshipped the cult of the cave bear, a frequent inhabitant of the caves. Alongside the bear, other animals which have long since become extinct left their trace here – the cave lion, leopard, cave hyena, rhino, the aurochs, and giant deer.
Nowadays, the masters of the dark channels of Veternica are the mysterious night fliers, the bats. As many as 18 species have been recorded, 12 of which spend their winters in Veternica. The cave is therefore not open to visitors during the winter months so as not to disturb the bats in their vulnerable hibernating state. Special bat-friendly grates have been installed at the entrance to the cave. These enable unobstructed passage for the bats, and at the same time, prevent visitors from entering, and thereby protect these unusual little animals and their home in the caves.
The temperature is a steady 10°C throughout the year, so warm, layered clothes are recommended even during the warm parts of the year. Appropriate sports shoes are also recommended seeing as the cave can only be accessed via hiking trails through the forest, and because the cave is partially covered in mud.
If you want to see Medvednica in the best light, don’t be afraid to explore its dark side too!
“Medvednica Nature Park” Public Institution
Bliznec 70, 10000 Zagreb
Tel.: +385 1 45 86 317