Caves in Ukraine: 5 the Most Interesting Caves in Ternopil Region

Visiting caves is a unique opportunity to spend your time in an unusual way, to discover land’s secrets hidden from the people’s eyes and to satisfy your need for adventures.

Caves remain probably the only place on the Earth where you can still feel yourself a discoverer. Several of the most interesting caves in Ukraine are located in Ternopil region. Researchers have detected more than 100 caves in this area, and each of them is unique and intriguing.

We have several tours that include visits to caves:

Verteba Cave

It’s a unique museum cave which is often called “Upper-Dniester Pompeii”. No other cave in the world has so many treasures – cultural objects of different epochs. The first in Ukraine and the world museum of Archeology, Trypillia culture (archaeological culture of Eastern Europe) and Neolithic is located here. 

The cave was discovered by a local landlord Jan Malewskij in 1823 during hunting. At the entrance, he found a lot of ceramics, the origin of which he thought dated back to the Antiquity. But actually it was a moment of discovery of Trypillia culture which was at that time unknown. Trypillia culture became officially known later – in 1850 when Trypillia village was discovered near Kyiv.

Verteba Cave. Entrance to the Museum
Verteba Cave. Entrance to the Museum

Though the length of the cave is only nine kilometres, it’s easy to get lost. All the routes of the dungeon seem almost the same. You can walk for a long time and come to the same place without finding an exit. That’s why you should follow the guide during the tour.

There is some information that during WWII the Jews were hiding in the cave and later -Ukrainian Insurgent Army soldiers. In one of the halls, the rebels learned how to shoot. The white dots on one of the walls are the traces of the bullets.

“Kamiana Solomka” is an unusual underground maze. Its ceiling is thick with stalactites.

Unique cave-museumUnique cave-museum

In Verteba cave there is an exhibition of Trypillya dishes, sculptures and other archaeological items.

Location: Bilche-Zolote Village, Borshchiv district, Ternopil region

Crystal (Khryshtaleva) Cave

The total length of the paths of Kryshtalewa Cave is approximately 27 km. The halls and galleries of this alabastrine cave are like a separate world which balances between a fairy and reality.

Underground architecture
Underground architecture

This cave gathers attention by the unbelievable works of art that nature has been creating for thousands of years.

  • Stalactites – mineral formations in the form of poles, sticks and pyramids which are hanging from the ceiling of the cave. The same formations, which are rising from the floor of the cave are called stalagmites.
  • Stalagmites often grow towards the stalactites and sometimes unite with them forming stalagmites.

This cave was mentioned in the written sources of the early XVIII century. The Polish caver G. Rzeczynski discovered and first examined Crystal Cave in 1721. During the Second World War, the soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army were hiding here. The NKVD blew up the entrance to the cave to destroy them. It was only possible to restore it in the 1960s. Since then researchers and travellers inundated this unique tourist attraction.

Crystal Cave labirinths
Crystal Cave labirinths

Crystal cave is one of the most accessible caves of the Ternopil region. It is admired by those who like “civilized” tourism. Here sightseeing routs have lights and comfortable observation squares and the visitors don’t have to make any extra effort.

Excursion to the Crystal Cave
Excursion to the Crystal Cave

Location: Kryvche village, Borshchiv district, Ternopil region

Ozerna Cave

This cave is considered to be the most picturesque. This cave has a 130 km long maze and underground lakes. Beautiful blue lakes cover one-third of the total underground area. Another name of this cave is Blue Lakes.

It is easy to get lost here without a map and a compass. Fellow countrymen went in search of the lost. However, the risk of getting lost themselves interfered with their desire to save the misfortunate man.

Blue Lakes Cave
tour to Blue Lakes Cave

Most of the lake caves do not require vertical (mountain) equipment to pass. However, special equipment will be needed to overcome the water obstacles on the way of researchers at Ozerna cave.

Since Ozerna and Optimistic caves are mostly open to professionals, amateur cavers get acquainted with the underground world by travelling to more accessible caves such as Crystal, Verteba, Mlynky.

Location: Strelkivtsi village, Borshchiv district, Ternopil region

Optimistic (Optymistychna) Cave

This cave is listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest gypsum cave. It is also the longest cave in Eurasia.

The world's longest gypsum cave
The world’s longest gypsum cave

The square of the Optimistic cave is about 2 hectares and the total length of its paths is over 250 km. The cave is a labyrinth formed by a system of horizontal passages and galleries at a depth of about 20 m underground.

Excursion to the Optimistic cave
Excursion to the Optimistic cave

The cave has small lakes and area near the entrance sometimes gets flooded. The cave is muddy with clay. Air temperature varies from +8 near the entrance to +10 in the centre of the maze. The Optymistychna cave was discovered in 1966 and still remains no fully explored. 

Cave treasures
Cave treasures

The complete absence of pathogenic organisms, increased ionization of air and water, as well as the discovered mineral water, make Optymistychna one of the most promising objects for therapeutic and recreational purposes.

Inhabitants of the Optimistic cave
Inhabitants of the Optimistic cave

Location: Korolivka village, Borshchiv district, Ternopil region

Mlynky Cave

It is probably the most popular and favourite cave of tourists. You don’t have to go deep and far to get into interesting paths. There are routes of different complexity, and some sections have their own names: “Birthing Home”, “Devil’s Throat”, “ Fox pass ” and more.

Walking through this cave will require at least some physical training and guts. At the very least, you need to get rid of claustrophobia and be slim enough, because in some you may not be able to fit in the holes or worse – will get stuck and then have to lose weight right away.

Excursions to the Mlynky cave
Excursions to the Mlynky cave

In Ukrainian “mlyn” means mill. Hundreds of years ago there was a water mill near the cave, which gave its name to a settlement. Later it merged with the slightly larger village of Zalissia, so now there is no locality called Mlynky on the map. Local cavers take care of Mlynky cave and organize excursions for guests.

Tour to Ternopil region caves
Tour to Ternopil region caves

The cave is not as giant as Optymistychna or Ozerna but it is extremely popular. For those who cannot live without adventures and is descending underground for the first time- this is just what you need!

Location: Zalissya, Chortkiv district, Ternopil region.

Useful Equipment Tips

To make your excursion to the cave comfortable and secure, be sure to bring along:

  • Flashlight. It is advisable to keep your hands free during the journey. Therefore, it is best to choose a flashlight with can be attached to the head, or one that can be hung around your neck.
  • Gloves.
  • Hat or a scarf to protect the hair and head from sand and stones.
  • Special jumpsuit or clothing that it’s okay for you to make dirty. You should be comfortable.
  • Comfortable, non-slippery shoes, as the cave can be damp and slippery.

True adventure seekers often return here again and again. There are even people who celebrated their birthday, New Year in the cave and most dedicated fans – even weddings! 

How to get there?

All caves mentioned in this article are located in Ternopil region. Trains and buses run daily from Lviv to Ternopil, so getting to the regional centre will not be difficult. However, the caves themselves are scattered around the area and sometimes are far away from the shuttle bus routes. In order not to get lost and feel safe, we encourage you to a cave excursion, which will provide you quick access to the caves, as well as a friendly company.

You can visit Ukrainian caves on these tours:

Mlynky cave and amazed tourists
Mlynky cave and amazed tourists
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