Prohodna Caves or “God’s Eyes Caves” are a must visit if you like interesting, mystical places and long walking trails.
The caves are located close to the village of Karlukovo, about an hour and half to two hours drive from Sofia. The drive itself is pleasant and well signposted once you get close the caves. You will follow signs that direct you to a large car park and here the cave entrance is just a few minutes walk away. Note that there is no entry fee to the cave nor are there any facilities there such as toilets or restaurants at the car park or entrance, so take a packed lunch and some water if you’re planning to stay for a few hours.
As you enter the caves you will walk down some steps and once inside there are more steps and some quite steep ledges, so it wouldn’t be recommended for anyone who will struggle with that type of terrain. The walk on the other side of the cave is also quite challenging with many broken wooden steps and narrow paths (no health and safety officers on duty here!) so just be aware of this if you are planning to take young children for example.
However, with that in mind, let’s not forget that one of the wonders of Bulgaria is the fact that these places exist and the magic is because they feel so unspoilt and untouched!
For me, God’s Eyes Caves were not disappointing. I had seen many photos of the place but nothing compared to standing inside and looking up at that incredible sight. I visited in summer, during the week, so it was quiet, which I loved as I was really able to enjoy the atmosphere of the caves. It’s a magical place and I could have stood there all day mesmerised. The holes are thought to have been caused by erosion over many years but they represent eyes so well that you can easily wonder. Also, another interesting fact is that there are traces of prehistoric habitation in the Prohodna cave, which leads us to believe that humans lived in the cave during the Neolithic period.
However, despite wanting to stay in the caves wondering what once was, of course, I also wanted to continue exploring and so we began to take the path that leads out the other side of the huge cave tunnel. Here you follow the trail around more caves and the River Iskar and you will see some wonderful views. There is also a small church called St. Marina Rock Church (Св. Марина) which is located very close by on the trail and is signposted, however the signs warn that the path is short and steep and they are correct! In our case, we followed the signs to the church until one point where we somehow managed to get lost and we then found ourselves climbing the steepest path I’ve ever encountered (wasn’t really a path, more of a rock face!) until we made it to the top and back to the road. So, be aware, don’t lose the signs and do wear practical walking / hiking shoes just in case!
Aside from our little climbing adventure, I loved every moment of this day trip and would go back again without a doubt. It’s peaceful, magical and beautiful, much like many of the places I love in Bulgaria.