The word movilă in Romanian refers to a small hill. The plural of this word is movile. Therefore, Peștera Movile translates as The Small Hills Cave, but we will use the popular name of Movile Cave. The name of the cave derives from a formation of small hills near the Black Sea shore, on the outskirts of Mangalia. Still quite a discovery for Romania speleology experts, the cave is accessible only for scientists. That makes it even more interesting to wait for the results of their studies. In case microbiology of speleology is not your cup of tea, maybe you would enjoy a horror movie that was inspired by Movile Cave. The name of the movie is The Descent, it premiered in 2005 and it even has a sequel released in 2009.
The Discovery and International Recognition of Movile Cave
In 1986 geological investigations had begun in the Romanian seaside villages neighboring the border with Bulgaria, that is 2 Mai and Vama Veche. The scope was to test the feasibility of building a large steam power plant. Instead, they had found this cave near Mangalia, and the plant never got build despite Nicolae Ceaușescu’s direct orders. However, the speleological research started later, in 1990, with Cristian Lascu‘s first decent.
Another turning point in the history of the Movile Cave was the interest NASA took in 1996, in the volcanic rock found inside. The excitement came from comparisons with the surface of planet Mars. It contains an ecosystem that has been separated from the exterior for five and a half million years. Therefore, Movile Cave is a constant source of information about the formation of life on Earth. What is even more valuable from a scientific point of view is that there are no traces of radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. So the cave must have been very well sealed by nature.
Life In the Cave
Having survived the Quaternary period, the Movile Cave still is subject to microbiological research. Cut off from the rest of the world; the creatures inside have evolved with the help of chemosynthesis in an atmosphere full of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfate. The secret of Movile Cave lies not only in the way these creatures feed themselves in the dark with very little Oxygen but also in the ability of the cave to expand through erosion. Speleologists say that the worse the air gets inside, the more crawling invertebrate animals there are. The temperature of the sulfurous water that emerges from under the cave is a constant 21 degrees Celsius. But climbing down the narrow limestone clay tunnels means one as to bear a 25 ºC temperature dressed up in a particular suit. Only about 30 scientists have descended in this mysterious cave from 1986 until now.
The Cave for the Curious Ones
As a tourist in Dobruja or at the Black Sea, the only way you could gain access to the spectacular world of Movile Cave is by watching all the documentaries archived in Mangalia at GESS LAB, a Romanian non-profit organization founded in 1981. Conversely, the same lab has two constant education projects. One of them is a summer camp, held this year from July 26 to July 29, where children aged 10 to 14. The camp includes scuba diving, rock climbing, and learning speleological concepts in situ. We are pretty sure that not only kids from Romania are welcome.
If you visit Romania, you might find out that there are even more magnificent places like this one, and according to our Romania facts list, most of them are accessible as opposed to this one. Take for example Scărișoara Cave in the Apuseni Mountains.