Деветашка пещера

Devetashka peshtera

Useful Information

Location: 5555 Devetaki.
Between the villages of Doirentsi and Devetaki, Rakitovo, district Loveshka. 20 km southeast of Lovech.
(43.233492, 24.885477)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: Adults BGN 2.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=2,442m
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Zlatozar Nikolaev Boev (2006): Pleistocene avifaunas of Bulgaria: a brief review, Historia naturalis bulgarica,17: 95-107, 2006. researchgate.net
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1921 discovered.
1950s exploration.
07-JUN-1996 declared a natural landmark by order No RD 238.
2011 The Expendables 2 filming location.


Devetashka peshtera. Public Domain.
Oknata (Gods Eyes) in Devetashka peshtera. Public Domain.

Деветашка пещера (Devetashka peshtera, 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 karstfensters 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 secluded valley with waterfalls, rimstone dams, and tufa deposits below the cave and flows into Osam river after 100 m..

The cave has a total length of almost three kilometers. The entrance portal is 35 m wide and 30 m high, followed by a 40 m long passage which leads to a huge chamber. This chamber is between 60 m and 100 m high and has an area of 2,400 m². About 200 m from the entrance the passage splits. The right passage is fossil, with an almost rectangular chamber, 50 m long and 15 m 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, a so-called emergency excavation.

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 huge 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. In the movie Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) storms Devetashka Cave, which is called a mine, where Jean Vilain (Jean Claude Van Damme) tries to find plutonium. The men of a nearby town were forced to work in the mine by Vilain. The story is annoyingly stupid, but the cave is looking great.

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. The 114 m long bridge from the cave over the Osam River had been destroyed and only the concrete bridge columns remained from the original structure. They spent BGN 600,000 for the new bridge, which now allows visitors to walk from the parking lot to the cave. The film production was fined for the removing of some trees at the cave entrance in OCT-2011. The height is unknown but rumours say between USD 343 and USD 3,440, obviously an enormous amount for a film budget of USD 100 Million. However, the careless behaviour is not really a good reference for further projects.

Environmentalists feared that the shooting might have unexpected consequences for the bat colonies. Devetashka Cave is considered one of the most important bat habitats in Europe. Nikolay Simov from the Center for Bat Studies and Protection at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was cited that the filming caused a massive reduction in the numbers of bats. In the year before 30,000 bats were counted, after the shooting only 8,000. Even if there were rumours about dead bats, most likely they just went deeper into the cave where they could not be counted. The numbers returned to the old niveau one year later, but this was not newsworthy and thus not published. But Nikolay Simov actually had a different problem with the situation.

What is even more alarming for us is that the legal regulations were not respected. The regional environmental inspectorate has no authority to give a permit for filming in this protected area. The filming was in direct breach of the Bulgarian Law on Biological Diversity, which prohibits disturbing and chasing away protected species. The shooting was also in breach of the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats.
Nikolay Simov

So the concerns were actually, that officials were willing to breach national and European laws if the payment was right.