Castellana Caves (Castellana Grotte) is a small town in the province of Bari. The town bases its economy mainly on agriculture and tourism. It has a very nice historic center with many ancient buildings dating back to the 17th century.

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grotte_di_castellana1The town links its name primarily to the enchanting beauty of its caves, the largest and most picturesque complex of caves in Italy and one of the main tourist destination in Puglia. The formation of these karst caves dates back about as far as 90 million years ago. The presence of the caves had been known since the 18th century as people used to tell stories about monsters and ghosts living inside the big chasm (called La Grave) just outside the town.

However it was only in 1938 when the speleologist Franco Anelli descended to the floor of the chasm and started to explore it. As of today this big caves complex is one of the world’s largest karst complex that has ever been explored by man. Since its discovery millions of tourists have been able to admire this wonder of nature.

The whole karst complex is a mix of white stalactites and stalagmites. Their formation started 90M years ago and the process is still ongoing. The process of formation starts with the action of rainwater that is absorbed by the calcareous soil . The water dissolves the calcium carbonate present in the soil, the water then evaporates when it comes into the cave, the calcium carbonate settles to the ground and forms the stalactites and stalagmites . Later on they get covered by crystals.

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Some details relating the caves: 2 km long route, 70 meters deep, temperature ranging between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius, humidity is extremely high with peaks of 90%.

The tour starts from the main hall where grotte_di_castellana2there is a bust of Franco Anelli. This is called La Grave and is the main entrance to the karst complex. Here you can admire the 50m wide and 60m deep group of stalagmites.

Two different tours can then be taken inside: the classic tour (the shortest one) lasts 50 minutes and is 1Km long. The second one lasts 2 hours and is 2Km long. It leads to the White Cave (Grotta Bianca) which for the whiteness of its alabaster has been defined by cavers as the most gleaming in the world. Here you can truly see the most unspoiled nature as you’ll admire this lunar landscape.

Many caves are scattered along the 2Km path, among the others: the black caves, big caves of monuments, cave of altar, cave of Milan. Names are usually given because of the shape of rocks inside them.

For further information please visit the website: www.grottedicastellana.it

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