Stalactite cave on the island of Gozo

Drinking water is scarce on the island of Gozo, part of the Maltese islands. There are no natural water reservoirs or rivers, especially on the small island, as the rare rainfall quickly seeps into the chalky soil. In 1888, Guzepp Rapa came across a stalactite cave while trying to dig a well behind his house. The cave was named Ninu’s Cave after the owner of the property at the time, Ninu Carmel. Today, Guzepp Rapa’s daughter and grandson give visitors access to this geological sensation beneath their home.

Die Tochter des Entdeckers einer Tropfsteinhähle auf Gozo öffnet uns die Tür zu ihrem Privathaus. In die Höhle hinter ihrem Haus begleitet uns ihr Sohn Joseph Bajada / © Foto: Georg Berg
The daughter of the discoverer of a stalactite cave on Gozo opens the door to her private house for us. Her son Joseph Bajada accompanies us into the cave behind her house / © Photo: Georg Berg

Joseph Bajada, a talented craftsman and grandson of the discoverer, has provided the lighting for the cave himself. He takes over the guided tours for a year before alternating with his neighbors. They made this arrangement because the 160 square meter cave is located four meters below both houses.

Eine steile gewundene Treppe führt in Ninu's Tropfsteinhöhle, die sich auf Gozo im Ort Xaghra unter zwei Wohnhäusern befindet / © Foto: Georg Berg
A steep winding staircase leads into Ninu’s stalactite cave, which is located under two houses in the village of Xaghra on Gozo / © Photo: Georg Berg
Joseph Bajada führt Besucher durch die Tropfsteinhöhle Ninu's Cave. Er wechselt sich dabei jährlich mit seinem Nachbarn ab, denn die Höhle befindet sich unter beiden Häusern / © Foto: Georg Berg
Joseph Bajada guides visitors through Ninu’s Cave. He alternates with his neighbor every year, as the cave is located under both houses / © Photo: Georg Berg

Thanks to the private commitment of the residents, the sensitive, millennia-old stalactites are well lit and protected from damage and vandalism. There is neither a ticket booth nor fixed opening hours. Interested visitors simply ring the doorbell, ask for access and donate a fee for the visit.

Langsam bildet sich ein Tropfen mineralreichen Wassers und so entsteht ein zunächst strohalmdickes Höhlenmineral, das mehrere Jahre braucht, um einen Millimeter zu wachsen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Slowly, a drop of mineral-rich water forms, creating an initially straw-thick sinter tube that takes several years to grow a millimeter / © Photo: Georg Berg
Ninu's Cave ist eine Tropfsteinhöhle auf Gozo, die auf der Suche nach Wasser zufällig von Guzepp Rapa unter seinem Wohnhaus entdeckt worden ist. Inzwischen führen die Nachfahren in der dritten Generation in die Höhle. Der Name der Höhle geht auf den Landbesitzer Ninu Carmel zur Zeit der Entdeckung 1888 zurück / © Foto: Georg Berg
Ninu’s Cave is a stalactite cave on Gozo that was discovered by chance by Guzepp Rapa under his house while searching for water. The cave is now run by the third generation of his descendants. The name of the cave goes back to the landowner Ninu Carmel at the time of its discovery in 1888 / © Photo: Georg Berg

More Tellerrand stories about caves

Royston Cave remains one of Britain’s most mysterious places to this day

Auf der Insel Gozo oberhalb der Ramla Bucht befindet sich die "Kalypso-Grotte" (Calypso Cave), die mutmaßlich der von Homer beschriebenen mythologischen Insel Ogygia entspricht / © Foto: Georg Berg

Ulysses on Gozo?

Another cave on Gozo, which is unfortunately no longer accessible today, is Calypso’s Grotto above Ramla Bay. According to legend, Calypso lived on the island of Ogygia, which many researchers equate with Gozo. She is said to have held the hero Odysseus captive in her cave for seven years and tried to seduce him. The actual cave on Gozo, known as Calypso’s Cave, is a large, hall-shaped cave about 50 meters long with four springs. Although the cave does not exactly match the description in the Odyssey, it is often identified as the place where the mythological story is said to have taken place / © Photo: Georg Berg

The research trip was supported by VisitMalta and VisitGozo

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