Georgia’s new Athos Cave is so large, it requires its own subway line.

The Second-Largest Cave in the World Has Its Very Own Subway Line

The Second-Largest Cave in the World Has Its Very Own Subway Line

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
May 8 2015 11:45 AM

The Spelunker’s Tram: Georgia’s Mini-Subway in the New Athos Cave

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For most of its known existence, the New Athos Cave was simply called the "Bottomless Pit." It has now been revealed to have limits to its depths, but the caverns are so vast that a metro train was built to traverse them. 

The giant cave system, located inside of Georgia's Mount Iberia, was known to locals before it was discovered by the world at large in 1961, when it was named after the nearby town. It was found to consist of nine massive chambers comprising a cumulative volume of over a million cubic meters, making it the second largest cave in the world. The cave proved to hold a number of features including underground rivers, staggeringly large stalactites and stalagmites, and deep ravines. Each of the giant sections was given a unique name and after the exploration was finished, the cave was opened to the public. Unfortunately, moving people through such a colossal space proved to be an issue. 


To rectify the problem, a short railway was set up in the cave system in 1975, looking not unlike a metro subway. The train, known as "Turist," travels to three stops along its subterranean route, passing through huge, unfinished cave areas between stops. There are opportunities to exit the train and explore the caves via long railed walkways, which pass by rock formations that have been illuminated by colored lights.

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Eric Grundhauser is a head writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. He lives in Brooklyn with his comic book collection. Follow him on Twitter.