The Eisriesenwelt, or ‘World of the Ice Giants’, is the world’s largest ice cave and one of the most visited caves in Europe. A limestone cave with a semi-permanent frozen layer of ice, it is one of the wonders of the Austrian Alps, and a popular day trip from the city of Salzburg. Due to temperature issues and dangers, the cave is only open in the summer months.
It is uncertain how long people have known about Austria’s famous ice cave, but supersticious locals in the area were known to have avoided it prior to the late 19th century. The cave was ‘officially’ discovered in 1879 by Anton Posselt. Regular exploration of the caves began in the 1910s, and tourists began to arrive in the 1920s.
The Eisriesenwelt is a fairly extensive cave system, though the typical tour does not take visitors beyond the first few impressive chambers. This is due in part to the below freezing temperature of the caves, even during the summer months. Among the most memorable of the cave’s unique features is an immense wall of ice known as the Great Ice Embankment.
Thanks to its proximity to Salzburg, the ice caves are a popular site, despite the fact that they are only open from May through October. A cable car, opened in 1955, makes it even easier to reach the higher altitude cave entrance. Web: www.eisriesenwelt.at (official website).