New Athos Cave
New Athos Cave – one of the largest caves in Abkhazia. It is located under the slope of Iversky mountain. It represents a huge karst cavity, with the volume of about 1 million m³. Near the cave there is New Athos Monastery and the temple of Simon the Zealot.
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Video: New Athos Cave
The New Athos Cave was opened to visitors in 1975. The total length of the route inside the cave is about 2 km, it runs through 8 halls, the walls and ceilings of which are richly decorated with sinter formations: stalactites, stalagmites and stalagmites. The air temperature in the cave is always constant – +11 degrees. (We recommend bringing a jacket or light jacket.)
Trains mini-metro to the depths of the cave are sent about every 20 minutes as the formation of tour groups. On days when the flow of tourists does not dry up and in the evening, and late flights are possible, but best to plan your visit to the underground kingdom no later than 18.00.
During the holiday season, from May to October, the cave is open to visitors every day and from the end of October – on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
How to get there
To get to New Athos is easy. The city stretches along the coast, transport goes along the central highway. From nearby settlements there are shuttles, both direct and those that go in the direction of Psou and Gudauta. From the central square of Pitsunda and Sukhum railway station there are buses and marshrutkas. The road is good – 20 minutes and you are in New Athos. For tourists, coming to New Athos caves, you should get off at the stop “Rakushka” and take New Athos monastery, seen from everywhere as a guide.
Before the entrance to the caves there is a light three-storey building. There you can buy tickets (adult ticket – 500 rubles). In addition, if you want to be photographed in the cave you must buy a special permit for taking photos inside – 50 rubles, otherwise you may be fined 1000 rubles. The sale of tickets ends at 5 p.m., the long queue can make you wait about an hour or more. During this time you can look at New Athos through panoramic binoculars, for 10 p. – one minute.
By the opening of the cave also built a special transportation system, which began to take tourists through the halls of the cave. The recruited group is invited to go to the wagons of narrow-gauge railroad, which makes an intermediate stop in the hall “Abkhazia”. The road is electrified, the rails are energized (300 V). After the train arrives, you have to wait for other tourists on the opposite side to exit, and only then you will be allowed to enter the carriage.
The doors of the carriages of this underground subway are opened manually. The total length of the narrow gauge – about 2 km, the route of the underground tour – 1,4 km. In New Athos Cave, the subway lowers visitors to a depth of 160 meters. The tour lasts about an hour and a half, all this time you are accompanied by a guide, telling the history of the cave and each hall separately. Inside the cave is cold, the constant temperature of +11 degrees, so do not forget to bring warm clothes. Sometimes it is wet in the cave, so the comfortable, non-slippery shoes are the necessary attribute for its visiting.
Map of New Athos Cave
The halls of New Athos
The lowest hall of New Athos Cave. Its length is 150 m, width – 50 m, height – more than 20 m. Here there are two underground lakes – Anatolia and Blue. The mirror of the lakes lies at an elevation of 36 m above sea level, and their average depth is more than 25 m. Once the water level in the lakes rose, and the waters flooded a large part of the hall. Traces of these floods are preserved – dark brown horizontal strips from the surface of the lakes almost to the ceiling. Now the cave waters come out through a drainage tunnel in the gorge of the Manikvara River.
The largest hall of New Athos Cave was named in honor of the Makhajirs, Abkhazians who were forcibly displaced to Turkey and the Middle East. Among the heap of dark stones of the cave rises the White Mountain. Near the mountain there are white columns of nascent stalagmites, a little further – a dark hollow with yellow fangs of limestone blocks. Sometimes you can see a cold, murky lake here.
The calcite floor of the side gallery is torn in places, and in the holes you can see the second bottom, through which a transparent stream runs almost silently.
The hall is covered with clay layers. At the lowest point of the hall, at 36 meters above sea level, there is a “living” cave lake with colonies of crayfish. In the cracks of the clay floor is found trekhus beetle, which has no eyes. On the southern wall of the hall you can see bizarre figures made of stones. Near the hall “Nartaa” there is a corallite gallery, the walls of which are covered with corallites – snow-white balls, stuck to each other by hundreds of thousands.
Hall of Speleologists. Hall named after Givi Smyr
The hall of speleologists is the highest hall of the cave, it’s height reaches 97 meters. From the round bottom of the hall, blocked with boulders, upward the steep walls, at a great height converge in the dome. The stone vault of the hall is riddled with many tectonic cracks and oval apertures. These are the holes of the karst wells opened by ancient rockslides, the so-called “organ pipes” – the lower part of the karst systems, through which water and air get into the cave. Bats live in this hall – relatively low humidity and moderate temperature create favorable conditions for them.
In the southern part of the Hall of Speleologists – the passage to the hall named after Givi Smyr, which is located above the other halls of the cave. The floor of the hall is covered with frozen waves of cream-colored limestone. The most important decoration of the hall is a magnificent stone jellyfish.
The length of the hall from north to south is over 100 meters. The entire length of the hall stretches along the dark yellow walls of ten meters along black horizontal stripes that are hollows in the rock and are filled with clay particles. Such cracks in the limestone separate ancient lower layers from the younger upper ones. But both were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. The hall is decorated with hundreds of stalagmites of translucent orange and red calcite.
This small hall has excellent acoustics – the location of ledges and niches in the walls and ceiling create amazing conditions for the sound of music. There is music in the hall and sometimes artists of Abkhazian State Choral Chapel give concerts, performing Abkhazian folk songs.
The Apsny Hall
There is a 4-meter high stalagmite in front of the hall and an unusual cave “waterfall” in the hall itself. From a 30-meter high hole in a high steep wall, a huge frozen rock wall “falls”. On the smooth surface of calcite “waves” flows water. This room is always the maximum humidity of the air.
The grotto is characterized by the astonishing beauty of rare sintered forms. The wall is covered with sparkling white calcite, and orange, lilac, greenish and yellow stalagmites stand in its background. The patterned floor consists of many small tubs with thin walls. This grottoes are the remnants of puddles that stood here some time ago.
The main treasure of the grotto is helictites. It is still not clear why these mysterious cave formations grow sideways and upward. The ceiling of the grotto is covered with thousands of small helictites of different colors, from dark red to light pink. Some helictites are more than 10 cm in length. There are no excursions in the Helictitic grotto, as the presence of people changes the temperature and humidity of the air, which can lead to the death of unique formations.
New Athos Cave
10.05 – 31.05: Fri, Wed, Thu, Sat, Thu from 10 am till 18 pm, Fri and Thu – days off. 01.06 – 31.10: every day from 9-10 to 19 hours. 01.11 – 30.04.: Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun 10 am till 18 pm, Fri and Thu – days off, Fri – sanitary day.
New Athos cave – a unique natural monument of Abkhazia. It is one of the biggest caves opened for visiting not only in the region, but all over the world.
It is justly compared to the Carlsbad Cave in America and the Skocian Cave in Slovenia.
The total volume of the underground cavity of the cave is 3 million cubic meters. There are a variety of underground lakes, unusual drip-stream formations (stalactites, stalagmites, and stalagmites formed from them), frozen waterfalls, and much more.
A special atmosphere is created by special lighting – white and red lights make the internal space of the cave mysterious.
The cave was found in 1961 by Givi Shalvich Smyr – the discoverer and later the director of New Athos Cave. However, access to the cave for visitors became possible only in 1975. Until now a number of rooms are closed for these purposes and are used only for scientific research – any human presence here can change the internal microclimate of underground cavities. In total, the cave complex contains 11 halls. Six halls – sightseeing, it is possible to get here any day. One is a scientific, only specialists have access here. The remaining halls open their doors only according to a certain schedule.
The price of the ticket to the New Athos Cave in 2022
The entrance ticket will cost you 500 rubles. For children under 8 years old visit the cave for free.
If you plan to take photos or shoot something on video, you need to pay 50 rubles extra.
The schedule of work of the New Athos Cave Complex depends on the season when you want to get there:
- From the beginning of June to the end of October (1.06-31.10) the cave is open every day from 9-10 to 18-19 hours, without days off;
- For most of the year (01/11 through 30/04), the cave tour is available 4 times a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday are days off, Fridays are sanitary days;
- In early May (1.05-9.05) the cave is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00;
- In the second half of May the cave is open with a special schedule. From May 10 to the end of the month the cave is accessible daily from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday and Friday are days off.
The schedule of the cave availability may be changed on special occasions for large tour groups or on holidays. The schedule for May this year is posted in April. Before visiting the cave, check the website for current information.
In winter, there is a minimum bar at which the tour will be held – you need to gather at least 40 people.
All visits to the cave complex are made only as a part of the tour. You can buy a tour in advance at a travel agency or by coming to the opening of the ticket office of the cave. The ticket office is in the lobby of the main building. Visitors who were here recommend free visitors to come in advance: the preference is to pre-book tickets from the groups, the remaining tickets after reservation are sold out very quickly.
The ticket office starts working at 10 a.m. (it is optimal to come by 9 a.m.).
The tour is walking, but entering the cave is done by a small train, which leaves no one indifferent.
The duration of the tour program is 1.5 hours. All the halls are well equipped in terms of sightseeing and at the same time safety – lighting, paths, railings, viewing platforms. Local guides are very passionate about what they do. They are happy to share with you what they know about the history of the cave, its inhabitants and other curious facts.
Note that the average temperature inside the cave rarely rises above +14 degrees. Going on an excursion, be sure to have warm clothes.
All who have been here strongly recommend to take good photographic equipment – the cave gives you stunning photographs, which will remain as a memory.
New Athos Cave in Abkhazia (video)
The halls of New Athos Cave
The Anakopia Hall is located deeper than all the other rooms of the complex. The depth that you have to go down to get there is about 135 meters. Anakopia has its own place in the history – it was here that the acquaintance of the pioneer Givi Smyr with New Athos cave began in 1961 when he managed to get so deep. In the cave you can admire the underground lakes, among other things. There are two of them here – Lake Anatolia and the Blue Lake.
The Makhajirs Hall is named in memory of the great tragedy, when the inhabitants of Abkhazia were moved to Turkey and other Muslim countries against their will. This is the largest hall of New Athos cave complex. Connoisseurs of underground beauty can see here how stalagmites are born and how the White Mountain looks like.
The “Nartaa” hall is famous for its “live” lake and its crustacean inhabitants. The main wall covering here are clay layers.
The “Speleologists” hall is one of the most comfortable in terms of naturally created atmosphere here. Rather low humidity and average temperature make this part of the cave a favorite place for bats.
The hall “Givi Smyr” is famous for its unusual coloring, which is created by the limestone coating, and the stone jellyfish.
The hall “Ayuhaa” has a huge length for a cave – about 100 meters. The unusual relief of the walls is created by deep horizontal stripes of black, which look very effective against the general yellow background. You can see the whole “thickets” of red and yellow calcite stalagmites.
The Apsny Hall attracts visitors with an opportunity to see a huge 4-meter stalagmite and a local curiosity – a 30-meter boulder, which is called a stone waterfall here. Jets of water actually run down it, which creates high humidity in this room.
The Apkhyartsa Hall has incredible acoustics, for which it got its name. Apkhyartsa in Abkhazia is called a folk bowed musical instrument. Music, by the way, accompanies this hall not only in the name. Musicians such as the Abkhazian State Choral Chapel love to perform here.
The Moscow Hall is located relatively shallow, at a depth of 54 meters, but remains a mystery to most visitors – it is rarely opened to the curious eye.
Corallite gallery consists of an incredible number of small fossil corals of white color, joined together and cover all the walls of the most beautiful hall of the cave complex. There is also the Stone Flower Gallery and the Gypsum Grotto.
Not everyone will be lucky to see the Helictite grotto; this is the case when every extra visitor can unwittingly cause the destruction of an unusual natural object. Gelictites are a special type of stalactites that tend to grow upwards and sideways. Here they are presented in all shades of red – from pink halftones to red-brown. The walls of the grotto are bright white due to the calcite that makes them up. Against this background it is difficult to miss the riot of colors of local stalagmites: there are green, yellow, orange, and even purple outgrowths. Even the floor in the grotto is “decorated” with frozen pools that weave their special pattern.
New Athos Cave – Google Maps panorama
How to get to the New Athos Cave
The cave is situated at the foot of the mountain Anakopia (Iverskaya) in the town of New Athos. If you are going to visit the cave on your own, be guided by shuttle buses, which go in the direction of New Athos. There are many of them from different settlements of Abkhazia. You must get off at the stop “Rakushka” (it is really very unusual shape, and you can not miss it). Further to the entrance to the cave is easiest to get on foot, it is about 1 km. There is no public transport in the city, if you don’t want to walk, the alternative is to take a cab. Private cab drivers work primarily in the city.
You can also get to the cave in your car, leaving it in the free parking lot near the entrance.
For more information on how to get from Adler to New Athos, read on our site in the Tips section.
View, opening from the entrance to New Athos cave – Google Maps panorama