Peştera de la Tismana

Peştera cu Apă

Useful Information

Location: Tismana Monastery, Tismana.
(45.080708, 22.926862)
Open: Monastery: All year daily 8-20.
BNR Treasure Museum: All year daily 8-17.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SpeleologyRiver cave KarstKarst Spring
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=929 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Sediul central BNR, Strada Lipscani nr. 25, sector 3, Bucureşti, cod 030031 - Hartă, Tel: +40-21-313-04-10, +40-21-315-27-50, Fax: +40-21-312-38-31. E-mail:
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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1928 explored by the speleologists Pierre Alfred Chappuis and A. Winkler.
1944-1947 BNR Treasure hidden in Tismana.
2010-2013 resurvey by the Speleological Association "Focul Viu" from Bucharest.
26-JUL-2016 BNR Treasure Museum inaugurated in the presence of BNR Governor Mugur Constantin Isărescu and His Eminence Irineu, Metropolitan of Oltenia.


This cave is named Peştera cu Apă (Water Cave), because it is a river cave and resurgence. It is also known as Peştera de la Tismana or as Peştera cu Apă de la Mănăstirea Tismana, because it is located inside the Mănăstirea Tismana (Tismana Monastery). The cave is famous for the fact, that it was used by the Banca Națională a României (National Bank of Romania) to store the national treasure of Romania and a part of the national treasure of Poland during World War II. In other words it was full of gold at this time.

Today there is a museum inside the cave, which is named Muzeul Tezaurului BNR (BNR Treasure Museum). The exhibition shows historic documents, explains the actions which were taken to protect the treasure. There are many historic photographs. The museum is rather unique, because of the national treasure of a country hidden in a cave. However, during World War II all countries of Europe hid their treasures somewhere, always underground, sometimes in abandoned mines, sometimes in bunkers or historic cellars. But a river cave is definitely unique, for obvious reasons. 190 tons of gold were hidden for three years, between 1944 and 1947, for fear that it would end up in the hands of the Russians. 12 tons of gold belonging to the Polish state were also added, because they had no suitable bunker themselves. The gold bars were transported by truck to Tismana and then deposited inside the cave, the secret operation was codenamed "Neptune". An entire army battalion was stationed at the Monastery and access was restricted. At the same time worshippers were still allowed to visit the monastery, probably as a camouflage. There were preparations to blow up the cave entrance if enemies tried to seize the treasury.

The cave is a river cave and resurgence, and the water was used by the monastery for water supply. Inside the cave there was a dam and a water pipe which brought the water to the monastery. This was necessary, because at some point the water vanished in a swallow hole to flow in a deeper level of the cave. But with the construction of the museum the pipeline was removed and the water again vanishes through the swallow hole. The entrance section can now be visited from the museum. The deeper parts are partly flooded and there are several sumps, which were explored by cave divers.

Mănăstirea Tismana (Tismana Monastery) is the oldest centre of the Orthodox religion in Romania. The oldest church on this place dates back to the 11th century, and was „făcută din tis şi cu mâna” (made of wood and by hand). Saint Pious Nicodemus came to the area 200 years later and lived as a hermit in a nearby cave, This cave is called Peștera Sf. Nicodim de la Manastirea Tismana (St. Nicodemus Cave at Tismana Monastery). The cave is named after the patron saint of the monastery and not accessible to the public. You can see the cave entrance which was walled up and has a cross in the door.

Saint Nicodemus started to build the monastery and was financed by the Basarab rulers, fi4rst by Vladislav I (Vlaicu-Vodă) Basarab (*1325, ✝1377) during his rule between 1364 and 1377. He built a new church on the same location, and the construction was completed by his sons Dan I (*1383-✝1386) and Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Elder, 1386-1418). Neagoe Basarab (*1512-✝1521) covered the roof with lead and donated a huge silver bowl for his escape from the clutches of Mihnea cel Rău (Micah the Bad) in 1509. The present church dates from 1541-1542. The surrounding walls which give the monastery the appearance of a fortress was built by Matei Basarab (*1632-✝1654).