The cave of Pál-völgy belongs to the longest cave system of the country. It has been open to the public for over 500 years. A cave tour of 500 metres presents details about dripstones, rock formations and the history of the cave. Visitors may enter mysterious Fairyland and the Witches' Kitchen.
Budapest, the city of caves, - as often said and it is no accident. This is the only capital in the world that sits on cavern systems. The number of caves discovered reaches nearly 200, not to mention the ones waiting to be found.
The cave dates back to the Eocene Epoch 40 million years ago. Calcareous remains of marine organisms accumulated on ancient sea floor and lithified to form Eocene limestone. When water receded, bedrock emerged and as a result of tectonic movements causes cracks. Finally, ascending thermal water dissolved rock and created voids and passages.
The Cave of Pál-völgy was discovered in 1904 in a quarry near Szépvölgyi Street. The lore suggests that the first void was found when the ground gave way underneath a grazing sheep.
Until 1910, only 1,200 metres of cavern was explored. It opened to the public in 1919 equipped with stairs and handrails. This was the first cave in Buda opened artificially. In 1927, Budapest hosted the 1st International Speleological Congress, which greatly contributed to further developments to make a visit more comfortable.
During WW2 the cave was used as an air-raid shelter causing damages to equipment and rock formations. Considerable restoration works took place only in 1973. In 1989, thanks to another congress, the visitable section was extended to the current length of 500 metres. The total length of the cave discovered approximates 13.5 kms.
After works of more decades, in 2011 researchers discovered the passage to the Cave of Mátyás Hill (5.2 km), making the cave system the second longest cavern in Hungary (total length 18.5 km).
Ten years later, in 2011, the passage connecting to Harcsaszájú–Hideg-lyuk cave system was also found. Since this discovery the cave system of Pál-völgy is known to be the longest in the country (31 km), replacing the one-time “champion” Baradla–Domica cave system.
As opposed to other caves in Buda, the cave of Pál-völgy is rich in dripstones of varied formations both with stalactites and stalagmites. Signature features of the cave include high gap-like passages, spherical formations shaped by thermal water, calcite crystals and impression fossils.
As only guided tours are offered to explore the cave, you are bound to learn a lot from the guide on the sights on the spot and get help to identify nicknamed formations by their shape. You will visit the Theatre Hall, Fairyland and test the myth of the Witches’ Kitchen. Allegedly, the meal whose name you shout in there will await you at home. Be careful what you wish for.
Check the snack bar and a pub at the entrance.
- Guided tours start hourly (approx. 50 min.)
- The tours do not require special wear or equipment. Prepare for a constant temperature of 11 °C inside. Flat-heeled shoes for climbing ladders and even thin gloves for grabbing cold handrails are recommended.
- Because of some steep stairs, visitors below 5 years and 105 cm are not allowed to enter.