October 18, 2014

A Halloween night in the cave: the big event at Castellana Grotte

Halloween event, caves of Castellana GrotteHalloween 2014 is coming and the big party is almost ready. But what if you join  a different kind of event this year? In a small village of Apulia, in south Italy, called Castellana Grotte, goes on stage a unique show in an incredibly realistic scenery: inside a natural cave.
But not any cave. 3,348 meters long, 122 meters deep, 330 meters above sea level. These are the numbers of the Grottoes of Castellana, one of the most amazing complexes of karst caves in Italy. And if these numbers were not enough to awaken the spirit of adventure that is necessary to delve into this impressive underground world, the 15 million visitors who have explored it since the opening to the public could be enough to whet the curiosity to discover a place that, over the decades, has managed to win travelers from all over the world.

Reach them is not difficult. in fact, it takes only 1.5 km from the town of Castellana Grotte, close to other beautiful destinations of south Italy, such as Alberobello, to embark on this travel into the depths of these caves, which tell almost 100 million years of the history of our planet, through stalactites, stalagmites, fossils, canyons and dark abyss. From the very first moment of this journey through the wonders of the rock, you realize you are not in front of a cave whatsoever.
The cave called Grave, with its imposing forms, welcomes first the visitors. It is the largest cave in the complex, with its 100 meters long, 50 wide and 60 deep jaw-dropping the "explorers" and surrounding them with amazing massive stalactites that emerge from the floor, among which stands out the central group called "the cyclops".
Caves of Castellana Grotte, Italy

The picturesque route, which runs for three miles through the deep underground of Apulia, is a series of paths, corridors and environments that differ in shape and size. Thanks to the guides who lead visitors in the exploration of the caves, you can observe how the cavity and stalactites have created that evoke shapes known to us as that of a snake, a column or a dome, until the beautiful White Cave with its gleaming atmosphere emanating from the walls of alabaster. These caves are not only a masterpiece of nature, but have become part of the local history and culture, hiring, in time, very specific roles in the collective imagination.

For centuries, for example, the Grave sparked fear in travelers, so that for a long time no one dared to enter. From the abyss, in fact, gave off strange vapors that people had identified as the souls of the suicides who, having lost their lives in the cave, were trying in vain to ascend to heaven. We had to wait a long time before someone, most likely the humanist Vincenzo Longo lived between the eighteenth and nineteenth century, chose to enter where no one had ever dared.
And even after the first exploration, the descent into the abyss has long been an enterprise of extreme fatigue both physical and psychological, so that the brave men who agreed to descend there to remove the dead bodies of those who fell accidentally or were thrown there, perceived scented pay for the cost of the shipment and to be rewarded for the enterprise.
Caves of Castellana Grotte, Italy

Even today, the Grave is not immune from its mysteries. The results of some studies that have focused on a depression at the base of the north wall of the cave and on the surface relief pattern made ​​with different techniques of investigation, would leave suggest the existence of other environments and other branches of the caves still to be discovered.
At the moment we do not know if those already disclosed and open to the public are the only caves hidden in the basement of the plateau, what is known with certainty,however, is that during the exploration you might be lucky enough to stumble upon some specimens of the diverse fauna that populates the cave, consisting of five different species of bats, all harmless, and some endemic animals that have developed unique features. 

If all this were not enough to make you want to get right in to the travel toward these wonders of the province of Bari, the eye-catching calendar of events held in the caves could be irresistible. Especially if you decide to arrange a visit in the months of September and October, when the Grave turns into a stage on which exhibit the artists of Hell in the Cave, the largest underground air show in the world. Accompanied by engaging music and surrounded by a breathtaking natural scenery made ​​of stalactites and stalagmites, the protagonists of the show reinterpret the verses of Dante's Hell in an artistic and acrobatic way, giving rise to suggestions really unique. Since the first edition of 2011, the event has been a great success by welcoming nearly 30,000 spectators.
This year, then, the hellish atmosphere of the show goes on stage with a whole new set-up which leaves more room for the aerial sequences and the soundtrack was completely renovated along with scenic pictures. Six performances were carried out from September 6 on a weekly basis for all Saturdays and the last will be held on October 25. Waitingfor the big event October 31 that promises its audience a literally chilling Halloween night.

PS: If you want to rent a car to visit Castellana Grotte and explore Apulia, click here to book it online with Autoeurope service!

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