Caves are underground voids which are large enough for human to enter - in Latvia it is traditionally presumed that cave should be at least 2 metres long from the entrance. Category includes niches as well - these are hollows which also are at least 2 metres deep but the entrance is wider than the depth.
If the passages of the longest known cave in the world - Mammoth Cave in USA - are approaching to 600 km length then the longest known cave in Latvia - the Big X Cave - is "just" 346 metres long. Major part of approximately 300 discovered Latvian caves are much shorter - just a few metres long. Such short length is explained with the fact that caves are formed in brittle, crumbly sandstone rocks. There are known just a few caves in harder rock - in dolostone and dolomitic sandstone - but these caves are short as well.
There exists a possibility to discover longer caves in Latvia. Thus, for example, sinkholes in surroundings of Skaistkalne village have formed when caved in large underground hollows. It could be considered that most of these hollows have not caved in - one day someone will enter inside long caves which possibly are adorned with stalactites.
May be somebody has entered such caves already and keeps this adventure in secret. Knowing the level of awareness of society in Latvia such conduct would be easy to understand and to support. Environment and charm of caves is very fragile. Author has experienced the degradation of the Big X Cave over the last decade. If in 1998 this cave was comparatively little known and it left mighty impression with its primaeval enchantment now this enchantment is lost irreversibly.
If you happen to find a little known cave - better don't tell much about it to others - people will not loose much and the destruction of cave environment will be delayed. Let's leave to tourists those comparatively numerous caves which are included in popular tourist routes.
Interesting, varied facts are linked with most Latvian caves. Among the most interesting could be:
Below are listed all the caves described in this website. Each column in this table is sortable by alphabet - just click on the header of the table. The first column - "No." - gives an order of appearance of the landmark in this website.
|No.||Name||Category||District||Municipality, part of city||Images?|