Abkhaz dungeon: the history of the world-famous Novy Afon cave
The Novy Afon Cave until 1961 was called “a bottomless pit”. This “pit” always frightened and attracted people with its secret, which remained unsolved until a young and very curious, 16 years old Givi Smyr ventured to explore the cave. Versatile and enthusiastic, he will later become an artist and sculptor, and admit in one of the interviews that since childhood he was “crazy about nature.” In 1961 Smyr first went down into an uncharted cave with the help of an ordinary rope to a depth of 40 meters.
In the first official expedition to explore the Novy Afon Cave in the same 1961, eight cavers took part, who worked for 18 hours.The first descent into the cave was followed by others. In order to study the rich and diverse underground world that opened before scientists, special camps were formed in the bowels of the cave.
Almost fifteen years have passed, and only in 1974 this unique natural monument under the slope of the Iverskaya Mountain in Novy Afon was opened for visitors. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have visited the cave.
A special “tourist” train takes visitors into the bowels of the cave. For the first time, it transported tourists in an artificial tunnel leading to the cave itself in 1975. The unique tourist electric train has no analogues. It was designed at the Giprouglemash State Design Institute of the USSR Coal Industry and manufactured at the Riga Carriage Building Plant. Novy Afon light metro became the first light metro in the USSR and in Abkhazia. It consists of three stations, and its length is 1.3 km.
In 2014, the same Riga Carriage Building Plant built a new train for the Novy Afon Cave. It fully complies with modern safety standards and ergonomics. Specially designed for traveling along a very narrow track under the low arches of the cave tunnel, the train has non-standard sizes. It was made in a single copy and therefore is also unique.
The Novy Afon Cave is about nine absolutely unique spaces, which are commonly called halls. Six of them are open for tourists: the Makhadzhirs’ Hall, Anakopia, Nartaa, Apkhyartsa, Apsny and Ayuhaa. In the photo: Ayuhaa Hall.
Three cave halls are available only for scientific research. This is the hall of the Cavers, the hall named after the discoverer of the cave Givi Smyr and the hall Helictite Grotto. In the photo: Makhadzhirs’ Hall.
Almost 60 years ago, in 1961, the Abkhaz artist and sculptor Givi Smyr solved one of the main mysteries of the “Abkhaz dungeon” and discovered the unique natural phenomenon - the Novy Afon Cave to the whole world.