Pellumbus Caves, the Black Caves of Pellumbus, or Shpelle e Zeze are located a short distance outside of Tirana yet feel like they are a world away. Considered to be one of Albania’s great archaeological treasures, the earliest residents of the caves were prehistoric bears whose skeletal remains were found to date back as far as 400,000 years. Later the caves were inhabited by humans and were one of the earliest pre-historic settlements in the region. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous artifacts dating from the Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages. Yes, this area puts a whole new meaning on the term old.
|The view along the way|
Unlike the commercialized caves I have visited in the past- those with well lit walkways, handrails, and narrated guideposts, these caves were just that. Caves. They measure approximately 360 meters in length and range between 10 to 15 meters in width and 15 to 45 meters in height. And they are dark. So dark that even our thirty flashlights barely illuminated the ground in front of us. Following our guide's instructions of where to walk (on misstep could land you in a hole or a slick pool of mud) we travelled through a series of "hallways" and "rooms" with each one being larger than the last. Stalactites and stalagmites filled the floors and ceilings of the caves with the eerie sound of bats and our own voices echoing off of the walls. Did I mention that it was dark? At one point we all stood still and turned off our flashlights and listened as the dark silence (and squeaking bats) enveloped us.