We had spent the last two days in the coastal towns of Istria marvelling at their architectural sights and enjoying the views of the clear blue sea. We needed something different to break the monotony, and Baredine Cave was perfect for that. This cave, located in the countryside just 8 km from Poreč, was discovered in the early 20th century, and after multiple explorations was opened for visits in 1995.
We left our apartment in Poreč by 9:40 a.m. and reached the site in 15 minutes. We had approximately 15 minutes before the English guided tour began so we utilized that time to see the nearby fields and orchards. Finally at 10:15, our guide led a group of about 15 people through the narrow spiralling staircase into the belly of the Baredine Cave.
Baredine cave consists of five successive chambers that gradually descend to a depth of 60 m. This is the depth till which the visitors can go even though the actual depth of the cave is 132 m. According to the onsite information, the total length of the trail is 300 m although the 270 stairs make it seem much longer.
As soon as we stepped into the first chamber it seemed like we had entered an alien planet. The entire cave was full of stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and sizes. The beauty of these natural sculptures formed by the action of water over thousands of years left us speechless. The best part of the cave was the small crystals that glowed when our guide shined his torch on them.
In the fourth chamber, there is a 4 m wide opening through which a shaft leads directly to the underground lakes at the bottom of the cave.
As we descended through the cave, the stalactites and stalagmites started becoming bigger. Some of them even had unique shapes and have been named based on the shapes. One such example is Snowman the Torchbearer in chamber five. The stalagmite is in the shape of a snowman and the stalactite above it merges into it which gives the impression of a snowman holding a torch. An interesting story behind snowman the torchbearer is that the stalactite joined the stalagmite in 1986 when an exploration of the cave was taking place. Since the stalactites and stalagmites grow extremely slowly at the rate of just 1 mm in 10-20 years, this unique phenomenon happening during an exploration of the cave is a huge coincidence.
Our 45-minute tour ended at the edge of an underground lake in the final chamber. But there was another surprise waiting for us at the end – a cave olm, also known as human fish, swimming in a small pool of water. It was a white creature with an elongated body. Our guide gave us some information about its diet and life and then it was time to leave this underground world. We made the arduous climb back to the surface and then left for Buje by 11:20.