Places of interestSaturday 15 July 2017

The Coliboaia Cave in the Bihor Mountains and its cave paintings - the drawings of more than 30,000 year old are considered to be among the first manifestations of the human artistic interest

The 14 charcoal paintings, representing animal forms, were discovered at the end of 2009 in the Coliboaia Cave of the Apuseni Natural Park

The Coliboaia Cave in the Bihor Mountains, Apuseni Natural Park

Bihor is an area with a great tourist potential, which offers the climbers and speleologists a true karst paradise. Also the Coliboaia Cave is part of this karst paradise, situated on the Sighiștel Valley, in the Apuseni Natural Park, at 560 m altitude, near to the Măgura Cave.

Towards the end of 2009, the speleologists Tudor Rus, Mihai Besesek, Valentin Alexandru Radu, Roxana Laura Tociu and Marius Kenesz discovered with astonishment, inside the Coliboaia cave, several paintings depicting animals. In the early 2010, the French specialists Jean Clottes and Bernard Gély came to make the discoveries expertise. Following the analysis, using the comparative analysis procedure (compared with the paintings from other caves in Europe), they came to the conclusion that the drawings would be 32,000-35,000 years old.


The Charcoal drawings (called also the black paintings) have contours that represent animals from a remote historical age: a bison, a horse, a bear head, two hairy rhinos and other indeterminate animals (which might be horse, feline, deer, mammoth). In addition to these drawings, some engravings with indecipherable signs and cave bear footprints (scratches on the walls, but also animal bones) have been found.

The symbolism of these drawings has given rise to several interpretations. The frenchman Henri Breuil believes that the paintings represent symbolic hunting scenes, and Jean Clottes (as well as other specialists) attributes them a religious connotation with animals scenes that would have been drawn during religious ceremonies.

The access to the place where the drawings are is quite difficult, and it requires crossing an underground waterway. The ceiling of the cave is very close to the water, forming siphons difficult to cross. The most important area of the cave is the last third, where the walls are adorned with parietal leaks, and the floor and the ceiling with stalactites and stalactites.

The total length of Coliboaia Cave is 750 m. To ensure the protection of the paintings, the public access is forbidden, while the cave is in a state of conservation.


Elena Radu




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