Austrian Ice Caves

Photos Courtesy Austrian Tourist Board

Austria is a magnificent country that offers plenty of tourist attractions. One popular attraction is located in Werfen, Austria which is home to “Eisriesenwelt,” German for “world of the ice giants.”

Eisriesenwelt was discovered in 1879 by a scientist named Anton Posselt and is located inside of the Tennengebirge section of the Alps. Prior to Posselt’s discovery in 1879, hunters and poachers knew of its existence, but had never entered the cave. Although Posselt only explored 1/8 of a mile inside the cave, he published a report of his discovery a year later. It wasn’t until 1921 that Eisriesenwelt saw a large increase in the number of visitors to the cave.

Austrian Ice Caves
The first half mile of the cave — the only part tourists are allowed to explore — is covered in ice. The remainder of the cave is made of limestone. The first cracks in the limestone appeared 100 million years ago due to the mountain’s elevation. Because Eisriesenwelt is such a dynamic cave, cave ice formed. Eisriesenwelt is dynamic in that its corridors connect lower entrances to higher openings, which make it possible for air drafts to circulate — the same effect a chimney has. During spring, water seeps through cracks in the cave and freezes due to colder temperatures, leaving behind beautiful ice formations.

Lamps are distributed to visitors who explore these breathtaking caves for a 75 minute tour. Visitors experience Posselt Hall, which holds the Posselt Tower stalagmite; the Great Ice Embankment, a formation towering over 75 feet; and the Ice Organ, created by the stalactites in Hymir’s Castle. The ice formations are sometimes highlighted with magnesium lighting for an added effect.

The Eisriesenwelt caves are open from May 1 to October 26, and during peak season tours are held every six minutes.

Austrian Ice Caves

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