The Fortress of Ponor are the largest karst complex in Romania, also known as the Everest of Romanian speology, are located within the Apuseni National Park, downstream of the Fortress Valley, making them the lowest point of the entire closed Padiș basin Ponor Fortress (950 metres). The cave consists of a unique gallery, over 2000 metres in length, of considerable dimensions and traversed by a river with a large debit (one of the strongest subterranean rivers in the country).
The Fortress of Ponor possess two attractive resources, such as the unmatched grandeur of the caverns and the subterranean river that flows through the cave until its very end. The size of the hollow is previewed by the greatness of the portal (about 70 m tall), sculpted in the shape of a giant window within a vertical, 100 m wall. The way to the entrance splits into several access gates, two lateral circles (sinkholes 2 and 3) and of course, the light of day, which keeps trying to pry its way into the dense darkness of the subterranean world. The cavern goes on with a singular, slightly meandered gallery, 15 – 25 m in width and hard to estimate heightwise, where the most resilient light beams rarely touch the ceiling, approximately 70-100 m above the waterbed. On its own, the 110 m wall is an amazing landmark to escalade, if only for its extraordinary size.
The subterranean river, one of the most overflowing ones in the Romanian karst, adds a priceless charm to the cavern, thanks to the 14 lakes and numerous waterfalls and streams it creates. The same river becomes a main risk factor, because of its reservoir and sudden increase in water levels. The structure of the cavern is dominated by erosioncorrosion processes (subterranean lapis, ledges, septums, crevices). With rare nodules, we can still find sandy stalagmites, detached from the carbon deposits within the funnels dug up by the waterbed. The “reverse” stalagmites in the Ponor Gorges are amongst the most beautiful in the country.
Visiting criteria: Although it has been declared a Monument of Nature, The Fortress of Ponor Cavern can be visited. The surface and subterranean gallery are accessible to any tourist who has rubber boots and illumination equipment, up until Taberei Hall. For visiting the cavern in its entirety, it’s recommended to form a wellorganized expedition.
Activites in Apuseni Natural Park Canyoning | Caving | Trekking | Mountain-bike | Tandem paragliding | Rafting – Kayaking
Accessible from the trail: Circuit trail: Cetățile Ponorului
We’re left with the duty to respect these parts at our every step, keep them clean and pristine for generations to come, and for us as well, because in Nature, “the tourist comes to gladden his eyes, the thinker encounters a grand book where every rock is a letter, where every lake is a phrase, where every village is an accent and from whence a smoke of ancient memories emerges”. (Victor Hugo)