Thematic Route: Caves Route
Name of Touristic Attraction: The Bridge Cave (Ponoare Cave, Natural Bridge Cave, Cracu Muntelui Cave, Stone Bridge Cave)
Location: in Ponoarele Commune, Mehedinţi County. Ponoarele is a commune situated at 67 km away from Drobeta Turnu Severin, on the road leading to Baia de Aramă.
Description: In Mehedinţi County, near Ponoarele Bridge, there is the Bridge Cave or the Ponoarele Cave. With a length of 734 m, the cave represents drainage of water between Zaton and the basement filled with galleries on which Ponoarele village is situated. The cave is just below the hill know under the same name as the cave and it is the only underground link between Zaton Mare and Zaton Mic Lakes. Known in the world of speleologists, especially due to its proximity to the famous Natural Bridge, the Bridge Cave is located in the hill of the Mountain at an altitude of 265 m, in the centre of Ponoarele. A complex cave, the Bridge Cave has two openings. At the entrance, it has the shape of an archway with a width of 15 m and a height of 3 m, similar to the Bridge. Because the water always drips from the cave ceiling, the descent of the first 30 m is quite slippery. The cave is flooded every time the waters of Zaton Lake grow. Approximately 100 m from the entrance, the gallery, 12 m wide and 8 m high, branches to the right in the direction of the exit to Zaton. This sub-fossil gallery is considered the Main Gallery where the floor is covered with soft clay and fine elastic material which in rainy periods turns into a large lake that can only be crossed by the pneumatic boat. After 130 m, on the left, the road climbs slightly and ends in the Fossil Gallery, which also features a series of side remnants. Here are stalactite formations and red-yellowish stalagmites. In the Fossil Gallery there is a legion of protected bats. The first scientific description, in 1913, belongs to C. N. Ionescu. In 1928, PA Chappuis and A. Winkler explore the entire cave, and the results of these exploits are published in 1951. In 1940 T. Vintilescu made a series of morphological research on the cave, while the complex hydrology of the system was approached only in 1963 and 1967 by M. Bleahu and V. Decou. As a result of these researches, the relationship between Lake Zaton, the cave estavela, and the Gaura Iepurelu.
Legend / Story / Impressions / Recommendations: There are several legends surrounding this area. One of them tells that “Aghiuță”, the Devil himself, lived in Ponoarele Cave, quietly settling his wickedness. So people once asked God to get rid of him and God, listening to their prayers, hit the ceiling of the cave, collapsing it over the entrance. Aghiuță, escaped through the second exit of the cave, clinging to the hill and thus forming the two plains called today Aphrodite and Cleopatra. Another legend speaks of the story of Saint Nicodemus who searched for the waterfall he dreamed and over which he wanted to build a monastery. On his way he stopped at Ponoarele, where he was, however, banished by villagers, being accused of theft. It is said that then God built his bridge to help Nicodemus, get rid of the wrath of the locals. He escaped but he left behind a curse, saying that the waters shall be swallowed, and won’t allow any creature to live in them. The water is now swallowed by the cave and it is poured out when it rains. There is no life in the lake near the cave. The Cave Bridge is considered by the locals, the Zaton Lake waters that once drained through the galleries and the underground archway.
To visit the cave a suitable guide and equipment (boots, overalls, helmet, at least one light source per person, especially carbide lamps) is recommended, as the exit to Zaton is one with a high degree of difficulty. Strong light sources are needed, especially for photo enthusiasts.
When the cave is flooded due to precipitation, it can be crossed by boat, which raises the difficulty of visiting the cave but at the same time increases its charm.
Information and Contact:
The cave is administrated by Mehedinti Geoparc Plateau:
phone/ fax: +4 0372 521 116,
Route closed to other thematic routes:
In the commune you can also visit:
- The Church under Ștei
- Crăcuceni’s Mill
- God Bridge
- Fields of Clints
- Zaton Lake
- The Lilac Forest
In the area you can also visit:
- Băluţa Canyon
- Bulba Cave
Other useful information
Conacu Boierului: tel: +40740 057 390
BORLOVEANU DUMITRU Pension: tel: +4 0252.381.545
GPS Coordinates: lat, long: 44.97531251586664, 22.761304799999948, DJ670 37, Ponoarele, Romania