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Caves of Castellana

Caves of Castellana

Puglia is a region in the Southern part of Italy known for it's whitewashed hill towns, farmlands that have been around for centuries and a vast stretch of the mediterranean coastline. A nice destination for tourists, it is a picturesque city with various attractions.

However, Puglia might not be the final destination. A viable destination could be the Castellana Caves which is located in the municipality of Castellana Grotte which is an agricultural center of the lower Murgia. It is 40 kilometres south of Bari. Grotte means caves.

The 'Caves of Castellana' is a vast underground system of karst caves. It is located approximately 1.5km outside the town of Castellana Grotte. It is classified an important tourist attraction and unanimously agreed to be one of the most beautiful cave systems in Italy.

The caves extend across a distance of 3,348 meters total and reach a maximum depth of 122m below street level. Inside the cave system the temperature stays constantly around 18°C.


The Castellana Grottes were discovered on January 23, 1938 by cavers Franco Anelli and Vito Matarrese. The caves were first called "Cave of Monuments". While Franco Anelli was the first to start the exploration and was later joined by Vito Matarrese, Matarrese was the one who discovered the last cave called the "The White Cave" in 1940.


The entrance an enormous vertical tunnel 60 meters long. The main cave is called "La Grave" (abyss) and others are called Black Cavern (Caverna Nera), White Cave (Grotta Bianca) and Precipice Cavern (Caverna del Precipizio).

The tour

The caves are open every day of the year except for Christmas Day and the New Year's day. The tour develops along two schedules: the first is 1 km long and lasts about 50 minutes while the second is 3 km long and takes about two hours to complete. The tour schedule varies depending on the season. During summer, there are also guided night tours. The Grave is the first and the biggest cave of this complex of caves and it is the only one with an entrance linking up with the outside. It's dimensions are 100 m in length, 50 m in width and 60 m in depth. Moving beyond the Grave stalactites, stalagmites, curtains and precious crystals are seen everywhere in the caves. The name of the environment are the result of the imagination of the early explorers: the She-Wolf, the Monuments, the Owl, the Little Virgin Mary, the Altar, the Precipice, the Desert Corridor, the Reverse Column, the Red Corridor, the Dome up to the last and the most dazzling one, the White Cave.


The entrance of the Grave had always struck terror in the past into the hearts of people going along the county street nearby, above all at twilight. It is suspected that what the superstitious wayfarers saw together with the bats flying out of the cave to eat insects in the fields of the area and the strange vapours were the souls of the suicides who had threw themselves down into the Grave, and were trying to go to heaven in vain.

The caves of Castellana are an excellent way to spend an holiday, touring and adventuring.