Let's travel together #188 - Mănăstirea Peștera Ialomiței ("Ialomita Cave Monastery" and the attempt to explore its surroundings)

When both religion and the wilderness of nature become a team, you know you are in the right place for a new adventure that will last in your heart forever.

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After a stormy night with lots of rain that made us believe our road trip will come to the end sooner than planned, the next morning we got blessed by nature one more time watching out of the window and see a great landscape that was making us more determined than ever to hit the road again and search for new places to explore.
This time, our plans were to visit a location that we wanted to check out for a few years now, but for a reason or another, we always passed next to it, without actually beginning the journey.
However, since we were pretty close to Moroeni village, we decided to finally give it a try.
As soon as we reached the village mentioned, we've seen just only one marker announcing the direction to follow in order to reach Valea Horoabei, a trail quite similar to the one we followed just one year before which was a 12 hours long circuit into the Apuseni Mountains that pushed our limits quite hard, feeling the fear for the first time during our journeys.
The one we attended to find, was one level higher than our previous experience, so not all of us were sure about the decision we were about to make, but we still wanted to search for the path we have to follow and see how everything goes and then make the verdict if we should continue our journey or return.

Even though Valea Horoabei is quite popular in the area, being known by people who go there for extreme sports and for diving, the canyon represents a track full of adventure which is very wild, but which is still not marked yet.

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You are wondering why?
The reason is quite simple: because we are talking about a mountain trail that is not open to every tourist but only to those who know the area very well or to people who are accompanied by a guide because we are talking about lots of moments where you will have to dive, to climb stones, to walk on chains and cables, and other extreme activities a mountain lover enjoys.

But as much as we love all that stuff, and even though we already experienced all these activities (except the diving part), we had to make all the steps in order to be 100% sure of our decision.

Finding the right path that leads to the place we wanted to explore was quite challenging because as I said there were no markers leading to it, except the one we found 2 km behind which was just mentioning that we are close to the point of interest we had, but without a proper direction we should follow in order to reach it. So we decided to go all the way up to the monastery where we talked with the priest and he knew to give us precise indications of how to reach the canyon.

After we found the details we were searching for, we decided to go to the canyon and try to explore it.
However, at the beginning of the trail, there was a big panel making us aware one more time that we should not adventure into the canyon without a mountain guide, and there was also a phone number where we could call and ask for more information.
I've always said that I'm that kind of person that looks at things as they all happen for a reason and nothing is random, so thinking that we couldn't find the trail from the beginning, and now seeing the panel which tries to stop us one more time, I thought that we should call on the phone number written on the sign and talk with someone that will let us know clearly if we are able to explore the canyon or not.
As soon as the ringtone has been interrupted by a voice, our decision was finally 100% taken, with no regrets, and that was not to continue our journey.
Since in the past few days there were heavy rains in the area, plus the difficulty level of the trail that was way above our training level, the man on the phone forbade us to follow the path saying that there are big risks not to return if we adventure into the canyon.

That specific phrase was the single information we needed to be totally convinced on our decision because we have previously attended to a similar trail from where we thought we won't return home anymore, remembering a tourist who died just a few minutes before our arrival. However, this is a different story that I have already wrote about and which made us be more aware of where we are heading to, and if you want to read more about the lesson of life we had, you can do it HERE.

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If you are thinking that failing to visit a place we wanted for so long was enough for us to feel disappointed and return home, you are wrong. Because as I said, our life is an adventure itself and our journeys were never a 100% successful thing just because we love following unmarked paths and exploring places that not too many heard about.

Probably around 40% of the trips we have are finished with either fails to reach the destination or following the wrong path, but that makes us more aware of everything that is surrounding us and also determined to wait a little bit longer until there will be clear markers to lead us to the destination.

So we dedicated the rest of our day to spend in nature, filling our lungs with fresh air and rinsing our eyes with dreamy landscapes that we miss all the time. We even made a new friend, the donkey who was on the path we followed and that was very friendly and curious to meet us. 💚

There was also the monastery we've been to before to ask for more information about the place we wanted to explore, so we followed the path one more time to take some pictures of it.
I'm talking about Ialomita Cave Monastery which represents a true treasure for Romania but since we visited the place when the pandemic was at the beginning, the access to the public and tourists was forbidden, so we could only admire it through the big gates that were slightly opened.
There is not just a random monastery but actually a cave too, because the monastery is located on an altitude of 1,500 meters on the right side of the Ialomita Canyon, which makes the church become one and the same with the imposing stone walls that hide a beautiful cave just behind the religious place.
The monastery was built in the sixteenth century by the voivode of Romania at that time, after all the religious prayers were made inside of the cave for already one century, on a rock named Piatra Altarului (EN: The Altar Stone).
The cave that is located 200 meters under the church's level, was mostly populated by monks and priests until 1818 when was needed a hermit and was completely served by a bear.

This aspect is just one out of the ten details that make Ialomita Cave Monastery a unique place in Romania, talking about the single case known in Romanian monasticism where a hermit is needed and is served by wild animals.

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Along with the information already shared, we remember that Ialomita Cave Monastery is the longest cave that can be visited by tourists from the Bucegi Mountains, which counts 480 meters length from which only 400 are dedicated to the tourists but which are full of interesting rocks, galleries and halls, but also a tiny river which crosses the entire cave.

Even though the monastery represents just the portal and way of access to the cave, this one comes with a shape of semi-ellipse that makes the doors perfectly open to the cave, and which even though doesn't seem too interesting, find out that most of the churches which are located in such places don't have gates that make the connection to the cave for different reasons. However, the one from Bucegi Mountains presents the doors which were specially designed to follow the cave's shape without being needed to bring too many changes to this one, even though the religious place burned entirely three times since it was built.

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Source: romaniajournal.ro

Another interesting fact about the cave is that even though it was mostly populated by religious people, there were discovered lots of bones of the Ursus Spelacus Blum which is the last species of cave bears that lived in the grotto around 10.000 years ago.

There is also a mysterious part of the whole place which brought to the surface stories shared by the monks who lived in the cave for years who had visions about the stone walls which were alive and hypnotised them until some fairy virgins with eyes shining of magical powers appeared and took them into a carriage driven by fire horses which had them over the mountains until the sun was rising.

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Source: Facebook - Manastirea Pestera Ialomitei

The Cave was modernized through a European funding project and therefore there is a ticket needed to be purchased in order to visit the cave which costs 10 RON / 2.10 EUR for adults and 5 RON / 1.05 EUR for students and pensioners while the access to the kids is FREE. Once you enter, you can put on a helmet for protection while going to the narrow areas where the ceiling is low. The tour exploring the cave is accompanied by a guide and it takes around 40-50 minutes long.

The cave is open daily from 8 AM to 4 PM during the winter season, while in the summer the visit can be made until 9 PM.

In order to reach the Ialomita Cave and Monastery you have to follow all the way from Bucharest - Sinaia (following the national road DN 71 that leads to Târgovişte) - Cabana Cuibul Dorului – Şaua Dichiului – Bolboci – Diana – Padina – Peştera Ialomiţei, or take the cable car from Busteni to Babele where you switch to a different cable car that takes you to the cave.
There is also a mountain route: from Busteni by foot to Pestera (Ialomitei Cave) which takes around 6-7 hours following the Blue Cross marker.

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SEE YOU IN THE NEXT TRIP! 🗾

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