"The Womb" cave is a Thracian sanctuary in Southern Bulgaria located in the rocky area Tangardak kaya close to the village of Nenkovo, Kardzhali Region. It is located about 5 km south of the village of Nenkovo, 21 km north-west of Kardzhali, 95 km south-east of Plovdiv and approximately 239 km in the same direction of the capital - Sofia city.
"The Womb" cave was found in April, 2001 by the speleologist Gumarov. A few years later he announced his discovery and the archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov began investigating the cave, dating it back to X - X century BC, from the Thracian times.
"The Womb" represents a natural horizontal slit in the rock resembling a vulva. Scientists have proven that initially the karst cavity was only 16 m deep and the human hand prolonged it and carved it in the form of a woman's womb, the walls of which are constantly wet. In the inner southern end of the cave an altar symbolizing the uterus is carved. The cave's layout fully answers the described by the famous Prof. Alexander Fol caves - wombs.
The entrance's height is 3 m, its width - 2.5 m and it is about 22 m deep. One can see a crack in the cave's upper part, through which every day at 12 o'çlock a sunbeam enters for a few minutes. The cave was investigated for the first time in the summer when speleologists spotted the beam coming through the hole but only reaching a length of 2 m. What Professor Ovcharov wrote about this phenomenon was that at noon a sunbeam comes in a deliberately cut hole in the ceiling, which is projected on the floor. It formes a perfectly shaped solar phallus which gradually increases and rushes to the altar-uterus.
However, only during certain time of the year, when the sun is located low in the north, may the sunbeam be long enough to reach the altar and symbolically fertilize the womb. Some estimates show that those are the months January and February, while others say it can only happen in one day of the year - Christmas. Scientists believe that this temple was the place where the culmination of Orphic beliefs was realized.
This is the only womb-cave discovered in Bulgaria up to this moment. Prof. Ovcharov believes that it is the evidence of the Dionysian acts performed by Thracian girls in order to honour the Goddess Mother and so pray from her a rich, fertile harvest. Such acts was also described by Euripides /480 - 406 BC/ in his play "Bacchae" and by the historian Herodotus /484 - 425 BC/.
From Kardzhali you should go north-west taking an asphalt road. After the village of Dazhdovnitsa /6 km south-east of the cave/ you should look for a sign indicating the start of the trail leading to "The Womb." After reaching it, you continue walking down a steep trail reaching an even crest, where the first pavilion for relaxation before the actual climb is. A steep winding path that takes 15-20 minutes follows and you will reach the second pavilion. Following the already horizontal trail you will reach the third pavillion in front of the cave, which is significantly larger, with tables and BBQ fireplace.
Visitors of "The Womb" cave can take advantage of several guest houses in the village of Glavatartsi /14 km in the south-east/, one hostel in the village of Dazhdovnitsa as well as the hotels in the regional center - Kardzhali, which offer excellent accomodation conditions.
Sources: http://poblizo.com, http://bg.wikipedia.org, http://www.balkanmysteries.com, http://zabelejitelnosti.info
Photos: http://poblizo.com, http://zabelejitelnosti.info, http://sladkahapka.blogspot.com, http://www.panoramio.com
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