Moravian Karst

Moravian Karst is the most renowned and most significant karst area in the Czech Republic. It features unique objects of animate and inanimate nature as well as numerous archaeological, paleontological and cultural monuments. Karst plateaus are dissected by canyons (here called “žleby”) up to 150 m deep. Almost 60 % of the Moravian Karst area is covered by forests. The bedrock is mostly formed by limestones of Middle Devonian to Lower Carboniferous age. Over 1,100 caves are registered in this area. Five caves are open to the public: Balcarka Cave, Kateřinská Cave, Punkevní Cave, Sloupsko-šošůvské Caves and the Výpustek Cave.
The previously accessible Císařská Cave is now utilized for speleotherapy. The largest cave system of the Amatérská Cave, over 50 km long, is accessible to speleologists only.


Cave sediments helped to preserve unique evidence of settlements of Neanderthal Man more than 120,000 years ago much like world-renowned animal carvings of the Magdalenian Culture from the late Palaeolithic (10,000 to 13,000 years B.C.). Iron ore from the central part of the Moravian Karst was processed in smelters dating to the times of the Great Moravian Empire (8th to 9th centuries AD). 

Living nature of the Moravian Karst is also worth legal protection. Thermophilous communities in the south pass into vast beech forests in the central part of the karst area. Talus slopes of the canyon-like valleys are overgrown by montane forests. Endemic species are also present. Over one-hundred invertebrate species have been first scientifically described from this area. The varied nature of the Moravian Karst is documented by the occurrence of more than 2,000 butterfly species. The population of vesper and horseshoe bats is represented by twenty-one species.

The most valuable parts of the area are subject to legal protection in the form of eleven nature reserves, four national nature reserves and two national nature monuments. For its outstanding natural values, almost the whole of the Moravian Karst has been listed in Natura 2000 – the network of significant sites of Europe.