The Padiş karst platou
Situated at altitudes that vary between 1250 and 1280 meters, the Padiş Plateau can be found in the northern central part of the Bihor Mountains. What is even more important is the fact that Padiş is a beloved place for all of those who know and love the Apuseni Mountains. Everyone who visits this place will fall in love or at least promise to return. This is the place where natural reserves as well as karst formations and phenomena stand one next to the other. There is something to see at every footstep here. This is why the Padiş area has been included in the Apuseni Natural Park.
Padiş has gained a national and European reputation as well, because of the multitude of karst formations that it gives home to. Here lies the most grandiose karst complex of Europe, as well as the Cetăţile Ponorului (Fortresses of Ponor), which is the tallest cave portal in Romania, as the entrance to the Cetăţile Ponorului cave is no less than 76 meters.
Furthermore, one of the longest karst systems of the country, having subterranean confluence called Zăpodie – Peştera Neagră (the black cave), which is 12 kilometers long, can also be found here. The Cetăţile Rădesei (Rădesei Fortresses) cave, one of the must-see destinations of this area, is indeed impressive. Another interesting place from around here is in the Poiana Clearing; it is a karst depression, closed from every part, just like a realm that was forgotten by time. This is the only such authentic place in Romania. Moreover, the Onceasa cave is also situated here. What constitutes the uniqueness of this cave? This is one of the most important paleontological sites from Europe, since numerous bones of cave-bears (a species that has long disappeared) have been discovered here.
Additionally, if you visit the Padiş area you must see at least one of the three unique Romanian caves that are frozen permanently, thus having ice all year around: the Focul Viu (Alive Fire), the Borţig and the Gheţarul de la Barsa. (the Glacier from Barsa). Furthermore, there are the wild and steep gorges from the Someşul Cald and the Galbenă valley, as well as the karstic springs such as the Izbucul Galbenei which makes it seem like the water rises from the depths.
All of these have made many people reflect upon the fact that, as they considered it, not even a lifetime would be long enough to get to know Padiş as it would deserve to be known. This is why Czárán Gyula, often regarded as the “father of turism” around here, has dedicated the most beautiful years of his life to these places.
The Padiş Plateau is like “the promised land” for everyone who wants to explore the world of caves full of mysteries. The well-developed network of trails connects all of these gems of the Apuseni Mountains, waiting for the tourists to discover them. Anyone can find a path or trail that suits them and the most well prepared from the visitors have the opportunity to discover the most difficult paths through deep gorges, walls of cliffs or through the underground fortresses.