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Devil’s throat cave

Original version
Orpheus was the greatest singer, poet and musician of ancient times. His father was the river god Eager, the ruler of Hemus (the Balkan mountain), and his mother and teacher was the muse of epic poetry – Calliope. Orpheus was better even than the leader of the muses – Apollo. His magical songs and lyre enchanted birds and animals, the trees lowered their branches, rocks and mountains moved and mountainous snowdrifts melted. Orpheus took part in the expedition of the Argonauts for the golden fleece and with his songs measured the pace of the rowers and, near the coasts of the sea sirens, silenced their treacherous songs. Short and tragic was the love of this Thracian singer. After the wedding day, a snake bit his young wife’s leg - dryad Eurydice – and poured its poison into her tender body. In order to bring her back, Orpheus entered Hades’ underworld, going through the Devil’s throat cave. None could resist his tender lyre and his heart-breaking song. Not even the gods of the bodiless shadows – Hades and Persephone. Touched by his endless love, they allowed the singer to lead his beloved from the land of the dead under one condition – that he does not turn towards her before her reached the light. Orpheus could not resist the temptation and, while walking down the steep and dark path, turned around with desire to glance at his beloved Eurydice. At that moment she flew forever back to the underworld. Orpheus died torn to pieces by the Menadas, near the banks of the river Hebros – Maritsa. The parts of his body were taken by the river waves and tossed on the island of Lesbos, where they were buried.
Alternative versions
Also, the connection has been made between the stories of the angels of God who disobeyed His commands and bestowed forbidden knowledge unto the humans, and mated with their women. The stories say that after doing so, the angels—or now the "Unwanted Angels"—were banished to a mysterious underground prison, thought by some to be in Devil's Throat.These creatures are also called the Nephilim and are referred to in the book of Genesis.
Main characters
Orpheus, Eurydice, god Hades (the ruler of the underworld kingdom), Persephone, the Menadas; God, disobeying angels, Nephilim.
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
- The places in which the story takes place, (e.g. cities, forests, woods, springs, lakes, rivers, etc.) – the region of Trigrad city - Masterpieces (e.g. paintings, statues etc.)- a natural phenomenon – the Devil’s throat cave The Devil's Throat Cave was formed about 175,000 years ago after the Earth's Layers collapsed. It is located 1.5 km north of the Trigrad village in the Trigrad Gorge in the Rhodope Mountains. It is about one kilometer long, with the tourist highlight being one-third of that distance. The name of the cave comes from the shape of the entrance, resembling the devil's head. It is 1150 meters above sea level. The constant temperature in the cave is 8 degrees. There are several bat species, among which the largest cave of the cave-winged bat in the Balkans. In the cave ponds a trout swims, whose eyesight is completely defiled by the constant darkness. The entrance is an artificially dug 150-meter tunnel. Through it, you can reach the Thunder Hall, which is the second largest cave in Bulgaria. The hall is so named in the thunder that water falls from an impressive height, its length is 110 meters, the width is about 40, and in some places the height reaches 35 meters. The living room was formed as a result of the collapse of the Trigrad river in the cave. The result of this is the cascade of 18 waterfalls. The largest, 42 meters tall, was declared the highest underground waterfall in the Balkans. To the right of the hall is built rock relief in human growth. This is Orpheus. According to the legend, here is the mythical musician trying to return his beloved Eurydice from the realm of the dead. The path of the cave river in the Devil's Throat is a great mystery that still hides secrets. For years, geologists, speleologists and other specialists have studied it, but no one has ever been able to track the river. Approximately 400 meters from the entrance, the water is lost in the so-called "siphon-gallery", after which it goes to the surface in the form of an underground river outside the cave itself. Various attempts have been made to track the waterway. There are large logs that the river has swallowed and nobody knows where they disappear. The coloring of water at the entrance of the cave also did not lead to answers, but only to assumptions. Speleologists expected that the color water would quickly appear at the exit, but did not see it until 40 minutes later. Scientists have calculated that the water travels over 40 kilometers somewhere underground before it shows up on the other side of the cave.
Local traditions or historical connections
People visit the cave and behold the shadow of the devil on the vertical wall of the cave as well as the shape of the devilish head, which the entry of the cave represents. Connections with ancient Greek mythology. The Thracians have left the legend that they have cast chiefs here to remain immortal. People, with awe, believed that here was the entrance of the other world, the path to immortality. To honor the gods of the underworld, the people sacrificed the most beautiful virgin girl s to appease evil forces. Local residents say that nothing that entered the underground labyrinth of the cave, does not come out of it.
Didactical Relevance
The didactic relevance of the legend is manifold: - it shows direct connection to events described in the Greek mythology; - it is related also to the history of one of the oldest civilizations (the Thracian one), which is believed to have started the European contemporary societal and economic development; - the moral values discussed in it are also important - greatness of love, courage, bravery, but also doubt and temptation. Teachers can use this legend in history, geography, literature or philosophy classes, since it has many sides that can be utilized in the education process.
Didactical Activity
Teachers can use the legend in different activities with students: organizing discussions on important topics (Thracian civilization and mythology, Greek mythology, God, Devil, love, courage); organizing a drama class for students to play the legend (it is one with many characters and it is susceptible for assigning different roles to students, it would be interesting to make students develop dialogues between the characters too); study the natural phenomena in the cave and how they intrigued human imagination to create legends.


A virtual tour inside the Devil's throat cave with a storyline of the legends connected to it


Devil’s throat cave

PDF version of the legend in national language