Cetatile Ponorului (Fortress of Ponor) from Padis

Fortress of Ponor or Cetatile Ponorului, also called the Everest of Romanian speleology, is one of the largest karst complexes in Romania, located in the Padis area of ​​the Apuseni Mountains.

Cetatile Ponorului, cascada


In 1886 it was first mentioned by Nagy Sandor, and in 1929 R. Jeannel and Emil Racoviță researched the entrance area. The speleological institute from Cluj explored in 1949 the first 300 m of active gallery, and from 1951 the team of climbers of AS Armata Brașov, led by Emilian Cristea, was included in the explorations. In 1972 the climbing team from the U.S. The Armata-Brașov managed to climb walls over 100 m, but without finding another continuation. Exploration continues to this day.


Fortress of Ponor or Cetatile Ponorului is located on the Padiș karst plateau, in the Bihor Mountains. It is located at 950 m altitude at the downstream end of the Citadel Valley. Following the marking with the blue dot can be reached in 2 hours from Padis. Cave coordinates 46 ° 33′50 ″ N 22 ° 42′11 ″ E. You can also reach the cave from the center of the tourist resort Arieșeni, following the red triangle marking.


Fortress of Ponor or Cetatile Ponoru lui is located in the Padis Plateau, which is a closed basin, where surface water is almost non-existent. The water is drained almost entirely underground in the Galbenei Valley and in the Boghii Valley. 8 pools that communicate only underground were discovered here. The area is rich in karst formations and caves (Lost World, Barsa Glacier, Radese Fortress, Căput Cave). Also, in the area there are several gorges (Galbenei Gorges, Someșului Cald Gorges, Rugapa Groinoasa), as well as oval sinkholes, springs and ponoare, etc. Find out more details about the Padis area in the Padis article.

Entry into the cave of cetatile ponorului

The Fortress of Ponor Cave (or Peștera de la Cetatile Ponorului in romanian) consists of a main gallery of 2 km, active, with impressive dimensions. Inside, a river flows, perhaps the largest underground river in the country, forming waterfalls, whirlwinds and rapids. The access to the cave is made through a portal with a height of 70 m and a width of 30 m, which perforates the stones of the first sinkhole. This sinkhole also has remarkable dimensions, 300 m depth and a diameter of 1000 m. After a few meters from the entrance, the second sinkhole with vertical walls intersects. The second sinkhole has a height of 70 m and a width of 30 m. Also here, around sinkhole 2, a strong river comes out of a gallery, and then the Caput Cave disappears into the fine siphon. It disappears in another gallery that represents the beginning of the underground river of the Citadels, where the 3rd sinkhole appears, which is the largest and leads to the active gallery of the cave.

In the gallery of the cave there are two more strong springs of water, after passing the area naturally lit by the cracks of the 3 sinkholes. These waters are lost in Poiana Ponor. Then follows a more difficult area, where boulders and tree trunks form barricades, over which water forms waterfalls and whirlpools. In order to be able to continue, climbing techniques and rubber boats are used. The first hall you reach is slightly elongated, it has a 300 m fossil gallery at the top. Then comes the Camp Hall, which is a vertical and the first navigable lake. Then a new barricade appears, and after this appears the second lake and a 70 m high gallery leading to the third and fourth lake. Lake 5 or the following siphon can be passed on top, through a fossil gallery, followed by lake 6, which has a length of 85 m. After passing the other 3 lakes along the way, you reach an area where speleothems appear, the Stone Flower Hall, in which there are interesting arenaceous stalagmites. Lakes 10, 11 and 12 flood the next section. The Venetian Gallery gives access to a room with a large rubble, then the gallery floods forming lake 14, which leads to the terminal siphon, blocked by tree trunks. From this point, the actual end of the gallery, since 1972 the climbers have made a lot of climbs in search of the passage downstream. It was possible to climb 120 m but the galleries found so far are not yet related to the main asset.

The initial section of the cave, between the first two sinkholes, is open to the public. The visit of the rest is subject to an authorization. The permit is issued by the forestry office and the mountain rescue service. It is recommended only for experienced speleologists. Equipment needed for the team: waterproof suits, rubber boats, boots, ropes, descents, blockers.

Boros Guesthouse

If you have visited and admired these beautiful landscapes, we welcome you to the Boros Guesthouse, where you can relax and gather strength for the next day with a rich dinner and breakfast. The guest house is 42 km from Padis. Contact and location details.