14 show caves of the Czech Republic: VISITOR RULES IN EFFECT FROM NOVEMBER 22, 2021 More
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Zbrašovské Aragonite Caves

Characteristics / History

HISTORY, DISCOVERING AND OPENING UP OF THE KARST FORMATIONS OF THE HRANICE KARST

The oldest known karst phenomenon of the Hranice region is the Hranice Abyss, which has been the subject of legends since time immemorial. According to the legends the abyss was created by supernatural powers. The first written reference was made by Thomas Jordan of Klausenburg in 1580. He described the abyss in detail in his book “Kniha o vodách hojitedlných neb teplicech moravských”. Jan Amos Komenský drew it as a forked hill with the “Abyss” sign in his map of Moravia from the year 1627, thus it became our first karst phenomenon recorded on the map.

Systematic diving exploration of the Hranice Abyss, including coordination, has taken place since its foundation in 1978 by the Czech Speleological Society – basic unit 7-02 Hranický kras.

Interesting historical survey of measurements of the lake depth on the bottom of the Hranice Abyss:

1580 – friend of T. Jordán from Klausenburg

1902 – Josef V. Šindel

1963 – Jiří Pogoda, Bohumil Kvapil and Václav Šráček

1964 – Stanislav Huvar, Václav Šráček

1966 – Vilém Kocián, Ivan Gregor

1968 – Vratislav Brenza, Štefan Hany

1974 – Jiří Pogoda

1980 – Jiří Pogoda

1981 – Lubomír Benýšek, Fraňo Travěnec

1993 – Michel Pauwels (Belgium)

1995 – Carl von Basel (Belgium)

(the largest verified depth)

1998 – David Skoumal, Marek Haša

(Czech depth record)

2000 – Krzysztof Starnawski (Poland)

(current record descent)

method: free-diving result: bottomless

plumb-line - 36 m

diving exploration - 42 m

diving exploration - 60 m

diving exploration - 82 m

diving exploration - 88 m

probe - 175 m

probe - 260 m (not verified)

diving exploration - 110 m

diving exploration - 155 m

ROV Hyball probe - 205 m

diving exploration - 130 m

diving exploration - 180 m

Whether with the help of probes or by diving descents, the bottom of Propast (Abyss) has not yet been reached and remains a mystery waiting to be solved.

The discovery of the Zbrašov Aragonite Caves started in December 1912 when workers in the local Na Baránce quarry uncovered a fissure from which a thick column of steam was issuing when it was freezing outside. The brothers Josef and Čeněk Chromý who had previously been interested in the karst phenomena in the surroundings of the village of Zbrašov widened the fissure and gradually cleared up the cave debris. In January 1913 they descended a 42 metre-deep chimney into the space later called Jurikův dóm (Jurik's Dome). The rope allegedly severed during their first descent, and they fell down on the detritus slope and broke their carbide lamps. They then had to wait in complete darkness for help for 8 hours.

Research and progressive discovery of new parts continued in the following years. In 1914 a new entrance was pierced through the valley slope and was provided with wooden steps and a simple shelter. Since the beginning, the two explorers together with their colleagues were concerned about making the underground comfortably accessible to the public as soon as possible. They worked in the evenings after they had finished working at their regular jobs. They devoted not only a lot of effort but also money to it. These enthusiasts called themselves “Sbor dobrovolných zbrašovských havířů” (The Volunteer Miners of Zbrašov) and they continued in their intention despite the fact that many of them had to join up to fight in World War I. Some of them even ran into existential difficulties, which was why Čeněk, the younger of the two brothers, committed suicide in one of the carbon dioxide lakes in 1926.

During the final arrangements the soldiers from the Hranice crew also helped to make the underground accessible. By the end of 1925 the cave explorers together with other institutions officially founded “Spolek pro udržování zbrašovských jeskyní v Hranicích” (The Association for Maintenance of the Zbrašov Caves in Hranice). In 1926 the caves were made available to the public.

The period of the First Republic was characterized by intensive research studies and discoveries which, however, ended with the death of Josef Chromý in 1943 and with the onset of World War II.

The next era of development, especially of the operational equipment, began in the years 1952–1956, when the new service building was built and the guided tour was equipped with a new wiring system and a new 40-metre- long tunnel was pierced through towards the spa colonnade.

HISTORY AND DISCOVERING OF THE CAVES

After a long period of low activity when the operating institutions provided only necessary maintenance, the caves were taken over by the central agency for nature conservation in 1991. Thanks to its extensive professional support the caves gained adequate attention at last. We will mention at least the greatest of all the successes of this period:

2000 – exhaustion of CO2 from the whole cave route installed

2001 – superstructure of the service building finished

2003 – declaration of the Zbrašovské aragonitové jeskyně (The Zbrašov Aragonite Caves) National Natural Monument

2005 – complete reconstruction of the cave route finished

The caves were managed by these institutions:

1913–1925 Volunteer Miners of Zbrašov

1926–1950 Association for Maintenance of the Zbrašov Caves in Hranice

1951–1952 North-Moravian Karst Society in Olomouc

1953–1954 Čedok n.p. (national enterprise), North-Moravian Karst Society in Olomouc

1954–1957 Turista n.p. (national enterprise) in Olomouc, Moravian-Silesian Cave Centre

1958–1959 Regional National Committee in Olomouc, North-Moravian Karst Society

1959 Regional Homeland Studies Institute in Olomouc

1960–1978 Institute of Homeland Studies in Olomouc

1979–1990 Regional Museum in Olomouc

1991–1995 Czech Institute for Nature Conservation in Prague

1995 – till now Agency of Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic in Prague

In the years 2002–2005 extensive reconstruction of the whole guided tour and its technical equipment was carried out. At the same time 1,700 square metres of stones and waste from historical research studies and from the first attempts to make the cave accessible were cleared out of the cave. Many caved-in niches and side corridors were once again revealed and thus their natural form was restored. The entrance was arranged as well and the connecting tunnel linked the guided tour to the circuit. Huge artificial terraces and concrete mass were replaced by a simple and functional footpath with stainless steel constructions of footbridges. A system of continuous automatic monitoring was installed not only for visitors' safety but to facilitate the research of exceptional microclimatic conditions in the caves too. It controls the automatic exhaustion of possible carbon dioxide concentrations that exceed the limit (over 1%) from the trail. The separate drainage and pumping system also collects and drains off polluted water from the footpaths out of the caves to protect the spa mineral water running below from possible contamination.