The 65-foot-wide entrance to this massive ice cave gives the feeling of an entrance to another world, and essentially, it is.
Beneath the Tennengebirge mountains lies the Eisriesenwelt or "World of the Ice Giants," the largest ice cave in the world. Hundreds of millions of years ago, a river flowed through these mountains, creating a maze of limestone tunnels and passageways. While the limestone tunnels travel for 42 miles, the ice only extends in a mile from the surface of the mountain.
Prior to its discovery in 1879 by Anton Posselt, a scientist from Salzburg, only local hunters knew of the cave, and they refused to enter the cavern believing it to be the entrance to hell. While discovered in 1879, it wasn't until 1912 that Alexander von Mork fully explored the massive ice cave. When Mork was killed during World War 1 in 1914, it is said that an urn containing his ashes was placed deep within the cave.
The bizarre ice formations that give an ethereal beauty to the underground world are formed as snow thaws, melts, and freezes again during the winter. During the cold alpine winter, the inside of the mountain remains warmer than the surrounding air, but the frigid outside air finds its way into the lower areas of the cave, and causes temperatures to drop below freezing. In the warmer months, the melting snow drips through cracks and crevices onto these lower parts where it encounters the freezing temperatures and forms fantastic natural ice sculptures.