|Location:||Between the villages of Doirentsi and Devetaki, Rakitovo, district Loveshka. 20km southeast of Lovech.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|07-JUN-1996||declared a natural landmark by order No RD 238.|
Devataska Pestera (Devil's Cave) represents the last stage of cave development, when the cave reaches the surface because of continuing erosion, and it starts to be destroyed by the erosion of the ceiling. An enormous cave passage has numerous roof collapses, so it is actually a series of collapse dolines or a series of natural bridges, depending on your point of view. The cave is called Oknata because of the openings, oko means eye in Bulgarian. Another name is Maarata, which is actually the name of the river leaving the cave. It forms a valley with waterfalls, rimstone dams, and tufa deposits below the cave.
The cave has a total length of almost three kilometers. The entrance portal is 35m wide and 30m high, followed by a 40m long passage which leads to a huge chamber. This chamber is between 60m and 100m high and has an area of 2,400m². About 200m from the entrance the passage splits. The right passage is fossil, with an almost rectangular chamber, 50m long and 15m wide, then the passage narrows again and ends in a circular chamber named Altar. The left passage is bigger and waterfilled, the small river is a tributary of the Osam river. Here is also the main hall, with its huge karstfensters. This huge chamber has a flat floor, ascending from one end to the other, and some developments, including a small house built into one of the natural bridges. It is very easy to visit, during daylight hours no lamp is needed.
The side passages are home to one of the three most important bat colonies in Europe. The cave is frequented by 13 protected bat species, including two species which are considered globally endangered.
This huge cavern was a fine place for living, allowing sun and warmth to enter while protecting against storm and rain. The cave was inhabited by man during the millennia. Earliest traces of human presence date back to the middle of the Early Stone Age, about 70,000 years BP. The number of artifacts is extraordinarily rich between 8,000 and 6,000 BP, during the Neolithic. It was massively excavated in the early 1950s due to its pending transformation into a warehouse.
The cave was used as a military site some decades ago, and used for the storage of petroleum. Most of the artificial structures inside the cave are from this era. It seems some cave formations have also been destroyed during this usage. Today the cave is protected as a natural landmark and most of the cave is not accessible. However, it is possible to visit the main passage freely, and one of the openings in the ceiling is used for bungee jumps.
In 2011 the cave became internationally known when the shooting of the Hollywood action movie The Expendables 2 took place inside the cave. The shooting was permitted by the Regional Environmental Inspectorate in Pleven, which also granted permission for the construction of settings and a bridge to the cave. However, environmentalists feared that the shooting might have unexpected consequences for the bat colonies. The film production was fined for the removing of some trees at the cave entrance in OCT-2011.