Jaskyna Domica

A Journey Through Domica Cave in 1793

from: Robert Townson (1793): Travels in Hungary.

He was a Scottish botanist who visited this cave during a visit to the old kingdom of Hungary. Today he would be justly criticised for not have three forms of lighting and for vandalising speleothems.

I descended rapidly for a short distance and then I found myself in an immense, dark, damp, cave where large stalactites, as thick as my body, hung pendant from the roof, and I was shown others where the sides were ornamented in the manner of the most curious Gothic workmanship. In some the stalactites were so thick and close together that we were in danger of losing one another if we separated but a few yards. Here aged stalactites, overloaded with their own weight, had fallen down and lay prostrate and there an embryo stalactite was just blooming into existence.

After I had wandered about three or four hours in this awful gloom and had reached the end of the caverns in one direction, I thought it time to come out, and I desired my guide to return. After we started back, as we thought, some way, we found no passage further, yet the guide was sure he was right. I thought I recognised the same rocks we had just left, and which had prevented our proceeding further, but the guide was positive he was in the right direction. Luckily for us I had written my name on the soft clay of the bottom of the cave, which had been the extent of our journey. On seeing this the guide was thunderstruck, and ran this way and that way and knew not where he was, nor what to do. I desired him not to be frightened, but to go calmly to work to extricate us from this labyrinth.

After wandering about till our fackels were nearly exhausted, we found a great stalactite from which, on account of its remarkable whiteness, I had been induced to knock off a specimen as I came by. I recollected how I stood when I struck it. This at once set us right, and after walking a little further we made ourselves heard to the other guide, from whom we got fresh torches, and we continued our route homeward without further difficulty.

So complete a labyrinth as these caverns are in some places, is not I am sure to be found in similar caverns, large open passages proved to be cul de sacs, whilst our road was over and under, through and amongst grotto work of the most intricate nature. I finally believe that even if a man should have lights and food enough to last him a month - he would not be able to find his way out.

Found and digitized by Tony Oldham (2002). Used with kind permission.