Source: Standard newspaper
Author: Raina Tosheva
Vratsa. It was really luck that one of the builders working on the the entertainment park near the Ledenika cave used to be a miner, the tourist guides expressed their gratitude. His experienced eye glimpsed the dangerous cracks in the rock, which could lead to collapse. People got really upset since the slots had been exactly over the spiral staircase on which the tourists stepped to go deeper into the abyss. It was precisely this builder who scared the guide Anatoly Vutov far enough to make him write a signal message for a dramatic crack to the municipality in Vratsa. And the rescue system went operational in a minute.
In order to “diagnoze” the Ledenika Cave correctly, the mayor Nikolai Ivanov trusted no one but the specialists from the Center for Research and Design at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG) from Sofia. The specialists meticulously inspected the situation and recommended an expert statement on the fortifying actions. That statment was provided by the team of professor Nikolay Zhechev from the research unit at the University of Mining and Geology “St. Ivan Rilski “in Sofia. From this Monday onwards, the natural phenomenon got closed for visitors and the professionals started the rescue operation by using a unique technology applied for the first time in a cave. They used the so-called anchoring method, that is applying iron pillars called technically anchors. The builders have filled the cavities with pressurized synthetic resin.
Despite the deadline of one month, the emergency reinforcement would probably be carried out for 15 days only. The repair works will cost only 6520 EUR, representatives of the municipality specified. The municipality, which has concluded the contract, is now paying the bill. The faster opening of Ledenika Cave is indeed very important because of the constant flow of tourists to the ice chasm. More than 60-70 thousand people enter the cave annually. But several groups of foreigners got already very disappointed as they couldn’t have a look at the cave from the inside and admire its charms.
Such cracking occured for the first time since the cave was renovated in 1964, the people from “Vrachanski Balkan” National Park recall. So far, the cause for the cracks in the rocks is still unclear, but it may be the pressure from the construction works under the project “Ledenika – tourism without seasons”. Last year, deep foundations have been laid there, and heavy machinery was constantly passing. Whether that’s true shall yet to be proved, but it is already clear that every year geologists must work to prevent the natural phenomenon from collapsing and causing victims.
In a month or two, the icy beauty will become the most intriguing underground variety show in Europe. It will be entered by a 10-meter tunnel of artificial rocks, dyed in yellow. The natural landmarks inside will be emphasized by light and musical choreography. The visitors will be able to walk down on rays over a volcano crater, to watch water shows and listen to live concerts. The meadows around you will become a huge amusement park. This is expected to happen at the start of winter and even in November to cut the ribbon on anything built within the “Ledenika – tourism without seasons” project, which is worth 5,282 million leva.
The talisman of the cave is already placed on the entrance – the mottly Lighthater. This is a unique beetle from the times of the dinosaurs. It lives only in this 320-meter long gallery and the average temperature within is 8 degrees.
The 350-seat amphitheatre, which is shaped like a snail, is now ready. The seats are like flowers – yellow, red and blue. In the fairytale alley, the visitors can see a knight, the Baba Yaga’s cottage, the three-headed Hydra, a princess and any colorful creatures all made man-high. The information center in the shape of a bat is near completion and there will be video and exhibition hall, as well as a pub. The equipment for the outdoor fitness site is still to be delivered and an artificial wall for extreme climbing – to be built. Yet, the paving leading to the cave is now ready. It looks like a mosaic with fairy-tale characters.