Bears Cave

Peștera Ursilor

Bears Cave is one of the most popular sights in Romania and it is part of the landmarks to be visited at least once in a lifetime. In the following we want to present you a brief history of the cave, from its discovery until today, along with a brief description.

How was Bears Cave discovered?

Bears Cave was discovered as a result of limestone exploitation works executed near the villages Chiscau, and Pietroasa, in Bihor County, in Romania. The lucky one, whose name is forever linked with the Bears Cave, is Traian Curta. He worked as a miner and during a controlled explosion he noticed a crack in the rock, which later turned out to be the only access to a very spectacular world of depths.

Traian Curta was the first to descend into the unknown, where he discovered skeletons that for that time being could not be attributed to any known species. This gave rise to speculation that in the Bears Cave had lived dragons, creatures with supernatural powers. After research and analysis conducted by specialists, it was determined that these skeletons belong to an extinct species, a species of cave bear (Ursus spelaeus). The cave bear as it is known, had impressive dimensions compared with other bear species existing in Romania and even in the world in those times. The discovery made by Traian Curta was reported to his bosses, who were not satisfied, telling him to dynamite the cave as quickly as possible so that the mining could continue. The limestone exploitation had contracts with companies in Germany and Hungary and that kind of discovery would have made it impossible to honor its contractual obligations. Due to this issue, immediately after the discovery of the cave, there have been several attempts to destroy the cave.

Fortunately, the discovery from Chiscau reached to the speleologists of Stei, then Dr Petru Groza city. Together with other specialists from Cluj they have conducted extensive research which subsequently resulted in the cave rescue. However there were many voices to say that the most useful option would be to destroy the cave. At a certain moment this view was just one step from being put into practice, being stopped at the last minute intervention made at the county leadership.

A similar case occurred in September 1973 when Fagului Cave was discovered. Very little time after the discovery, the cave was vandalized and destroyed almost completely, because mining operations had to be continued. Fagului Cave case served as a lesson for what would follow on September the 17th, 1975 when Traian Curta found the Bears Cave. Thanks to a prompt response and repeated callings, the authorities eventually took the decision that was to preserve the cave´s beauties.

Cave landscaping works were completed in 1978, event that was immortalized and is exhibited at the exit of the cave. However, the opening of the cave was made on the 14th of July 1980, when Bears Cave entered the tourist circuit and for the delight of many it is now available for Romanian and foreign tourists.

Bears' Cave (Romanian: Peștera Urșilor) is located the western Apuseni Mountains, on the outskirts of Chişcău village, Bihor County, northwestern Romania. It was discovered in 1975 by "Speodava", an amateur speleologist group. Bears' Cave received its name after the 140 cave bear skeletons which were discovered on the site in 1983. The cave bear, also known as Ursus spelaeus, is a species of bear which became extinct during the Last Glacial Maximum, about 27,500 years ago. The cave has three galleries and four halls: the Candles Hall, the Spaghetti Hall, Emil Racovita Hall, the Bones Hall.

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This report does not necessarily represent the official position of the European Union or of the Romanian Government.