The Moravian Karst
The Moravian Karst is one of the most important limestone karst areas in Europe and the largest in the Czech Republic. On the 94 square kilometres it encompasses, we can find many typical karst phenomena, including more than 1100 caves.
There are 11 nature reservations, 4 national nature reservations, and 2 national nature heritage areas, altogether protecting different specimens of fauna and flora in the whole of Moravian karst. Due to its uniqueness, the Moravian Karst gained protected nature reserve status. It is interesting that most of Moravian karst's discoveries were made not by specialists but by amateurs. This exhibition is dedicated to these enthusiasts, who since the 18th century until 1930s paved the way into the underground world. The exploration of the caves started before this, though and the monk Lazarus Schopper is seen as the first researcher. He reached the bottom of Macocha Abyss in 1723. After Schopper, there were many explorers in the karst but more systematic exploration started in the middle of the nineteenth century and is mostly connected to Jindřich Wankel, who then worked as a doctor for Salm’s ironworks. In the second half of the 19th century there were other explorers such as Martin Kříž, Florián Koudelka and Jan Knies. The Club of German tourists from Brno should be mentioned as well as they were the first ones who employed heavy machinery in order to get through the underground. Probably the most known figure of the Moravian karst’s discoveries, and most likely at the expense of other explorers, was Karel Absolon, the grandson of Jindřich Wankel. His attempts to conquer the underground realm came to fruition in the 1930s with the public opening of the Punkva caves complex. However, his methods to do so were quite insensitive towards the environment and have been strongly criticised both now and at the time.