The Magura Cave featuring prehistoric paintings from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) and Early Bronze Age is located near the town of Rabisha, Belogradchik Municipality, Vidin District, in Northwest Bulgaria.
The combined length of its corridors is 2.5 km; the cave has a permanent year-round temperature of 12 degrees Celsius (except for one warmer chamber where the temperature is 15 degrees).
The 15-million-year-old Magura Cave is a famous archaeological and paleontological site. Inside it, researchers have found bones from cave bears, cave hyenas, foxes, wolves, wild cats, otters, and other prehistoricanimals.
The MaguraCave is home to 8 species of bats, all of whom are under protection. It was granted the status of a natural park in 1960. It is located close to the largest non-draining lake in Bulgaria, the Rabisha Lake.
In 1984, the Magura Lake was put on UNESCO’s Tentative List for consideration as a World Heritage Site.
The largest chamber in the cave is the Arc Hall, which is 128 meters long, 58 meters wide and 21 meters tall.
The oldest prehistoric paintings in the cave date to the Late Paleolithic period (Epipaleolithic) – about 8,000 – 6,000 BC; the latest are from the Bronze Age, and date to the period between 3,000 BC and 1,200 BC.
The more than 750 paintings depict primarily hunting scenes, religious ceremonies such as fertility dances, and deities. These include anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, geometric, and symbolic images. The drawings were painted with bat guano.
The most popular image from the Magura Cave is from the Cult Hall and depicts a large dance and hunting scene in two rows.
Because of a drawing showing the local mushroom Boletus, which has hallucinogenic effects, there have been interpretations that the paintings depict aliens.
Another group of the Magura Cave drawings from the Late Neolithic is seen as a highly accurate solar calendar calculating 366 days and a year of 12 months.
Before 1993, the Magura Cave had open access, and some of the drawings were vandalized by treasure hunters.
Together with the nearby Rabisha Lake, the Belogradchik Rocks, and the Belogradchik Fortress, the Magura Cave has emerged as one of the most popular destinations for cultural tourism in modern-day Bulgaria.