The Eisriesenwelt (German for "World of the Ice Giants") is a natural limestone ice cave located in Werfen, Austria, about 40 km south of Salzburg. It is extending more than 42km and though only the first kilometer is covered in ice, it is still the largest of its kind .
The cave is open from May to October, visited by approximately 200,000 tourists every year and only the first kilometer of the cave are allowed to be explored.
Eisriesenwelt Cave was formed by the Salzach river, which flowed through the mountain eroding passageways. The ice formations in the cave were formed by thawing snow which drained into the cave and froze during winter. Since the entrance to the cave is open year-round, chilly winter winds blow into the cave and freeze the snow inside. In summer, a cold wind from inside the cave blows toward the entrance and prevents the formations from melting.
Eisriesenwelt was discovered by Anton Posselt, a natural scientist from Salzburg, in 1879. Before his discovery, the cave was known only to locals, who, believing that it was an entrance to Hell, refused to explore it. One year later he published a detailed report of his discovery in a mountaineering magazine. And then later in 1912, a group of several expeditions into the cave was led by Alexander von Mörk, a speleologist from Salzburg, which were soon followed by other explorers.
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