Gadime was opened for tourists in 1974, with the biggest gallery in the cave used for acoustic concerts and shooting films. Most striking are the shining crystals formed from the limestone on the cave walls, a rare and beautiful characteristic of the 1,200 meters of the cave discovered so far.
Januz Ejupi, a guide at the Marble Cave, explained that an entranceway to the cave was discovered in 1969 when a villager, Ahmet Asllani, was digging the foundations to build his own house, and knocked through the earth to find it underneath his land. “The stalactites and stalagmites create the crystals. These kind of crystals bend the laws of physics and gravity, the water doesn’t drip down but it spreads across the walls in the caves,” said Ejupi, explaining how the shape of the cave is formed. “This is particularly special because the crystal doesn’t exist anywhere else in Europe.”
Growing from the floor near the ‘concert hall’ gallery is a large cluster of stalagmites in the shape of a hand. Two stalagmites at one point would have stood above the others like fingers pointing upwards, but one ‘finger’ has since been broken off.
“It had two fingers but during the war it was destroyed, they broke off one of the fingers. They say that if the statue had had 3 fingers they would not have destroyed it at all. It’s called the Victory statue,” said Janjupi. The three-finger gesture, commonly made by Serbians and ethnic Serbs by extending the thumb, index and middle finger of one hand, leaving the ring and little fingers curled to the palm, was originally symbolized the Holy Trinity of Serbian Orthodoxy, and has since become a sign made in affiliation with Serbian nationalism.Other than the ‘Victory Statue,’ Gadime also boasts Skenderbeg’s Beard, an eagle, a rock shaped like the map of Kosovo and more, with historical sentiment playing a key role in the bulk of the narratives of the Gadime tour guides.
This is not the only kind of story spun at the Marble Cave – the tour culminates with a visit to the last gallery open to visitors, named the Garden of Love. There you can find Romeo and Juliet, a stalagmite and stalactite that have grown and will eventually conjoin, turning into a pillar.
“It will take one and a half thousand years for them to get together,” said Ejupi. “You’re invited to the wedding, but I’m not sure that you’ll be around for it!”. Those who have visited the cave say that these narratives have remained unchanged for more than a decade.
Gadime is full of these unique geological features, but it can be difficult to shake off the uneasy feeling that that it has been meddled with. From the concrete flooring and electrical wires visible through the cave’s interior to attributing artificial historical significance to its geological features, the human imposition that the cave has been subject to is tangible.Despite Gadime’s status as the only cave ‘of special importance’ in Kosovo, this title has held back its preservation and exploration rather than warranting expert care.