Caves of Romania SI

Caves of Romania

In the crust of the Earth there are numerous naturally formed underground holes, some of them of large sizes, called caves. Their appearance is the result of erosion caused by the infiltration of waters rich in carbon dioxide which dissolved the soluble rocks, especially limestone. These complex systems of galleries, vast and high chambers developed on one or several levels are connected by funnels and pits. Inside, there are often rivers, cascades and lakes as well as mineral formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns and curtains that are formed after the precipitation of the calcium carbonate from water.

Romania is in a front-ranking place in terms of caves number – more than 12,000. Romanian caves have been known ever since prehistoric times, but their study began in the 17th century. We must mention that, in 1920, Emil Racovita founded the world’s first Speleological Institute.

The postage stamp issue “Caves from Romania” that Romfilatelia introduces into circulation illustrates Ursilor, Closani, Muierii, Sura Mare, Vantului and Meziad caves.

Ursilor Cave, illustrated on the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 0.30, is situated in Chiscau, Bihor County, at an altitude of 482 meters and was discovered in 1975. The name of the cave originates from the numerous cave-bear fossils discovered here, being an appropriate shelter for animals for more than 15,000 years. They believe that the cave entrance was blocked by a fallen rock so that more than 140 bears attacked each other because of hunger.

Closani Cave, illustrated on the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 0.50, is located in the Mehedinti Mountains, at an altitude of 440 m and it is 1,100 m long. It has two galleries: Laboratories Gallery and Matei Ghica Gallery, while acting as a real natural museum where one may find various types of speleothems. Here, an underground museum of speleology is under construction. The cave shelters more than 70 species of terrestrial and aquatic animals, as well as protected bat species.

Muierii Cave (Muierilor Cave), illustrated on the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 0.60, has been carved in Mesozoic limestone on the Southern edge of Parang Mountain, in the gorges of the Galbenul River from Oltenia. It has countless, beautiful formations highly appreciated by tourists, such as Orga Mare, Turcul, Mireasa. The lower galleries of the cave contain numerous cave-bear fossils and other Quaternary carnivores. Among these bones they have also discovered the mandible of a Neanderthal man dated almost 35,000 years ago. Muierii Cave was the first Romanian cave where they installed the electric lighting in 1957.

Meziad Cave, illustrated on the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 3.00, is about 5,000 m long. It is located on Meziadului Valley, in Padurea Craiului Mountains, at an altitude of 300 m. The cave has two main levels. When they communicate with each other, huge chambers are formed. Carnivore fossils were found here as well as human dwelling traces from Paleolithic and Neolithic, attesting that the cave was the shelter for both humans and animals. The cave is also preferred by bats for hibernation.

Vantului Cave, illustrated on the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 3.10, is situated near Suncuius Commune from Padurea Craiului Mountains (Bihor County). It was discovered in 1957 and it is the longest cave in Romania, having more than 50 km of galleries. The underground creek dug a maze of narrow and tall galleries in the limestone mountain. The Great Meander Racovita is highly representative and accessible. The cave also contains remarkable plaster and aragonite formations.

Sura Mare Cave, illustrated on the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 8.70, is located on Fruntea Mare Hill, at an altitude of 460 m, near Ohaba-Ponor Commune. The cave entrance is 45 m high and more than 10 m wide. The length of the cave is about 8,000 meters. It is crossed by Ohaba River, supplying numerous waterfalls, whirlpools and a lake. The main gallery with canyon like walls sometimes exceeds 60 m in height and widens in two places, forming huge chambers where majestic formations may be seen. Sura Mare Cave shelters the largest bat colony in Europe.

Philatelic document – made into a limited edition of 230 copies, equipped with the postage stamps of the issue, numbered and cancelled with the “first day” postmark.

The issue is completed by a set of 6 maxicards.

Technical Details

Issue Date: 17.02.2011
Designer: Alec Bartos
Process: Offset
Colours: 4 colours
Size: 33 x 48 mm and 48 x 33 mm
Values: 0.30L, 0.50L, 0.60L, 3.10L, 3L, 8.70L
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