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Inčukalns Devil's Cave (Inčukalna Velna ala)

Other references to the location
Approximately 800 m downstream Murjāņi bridge on the slope of the basic left bank of the Gauja primeval valley in the early devon Gauja suite sandstone cliff.
lat=57.126876, lon=24.638531
57° 7' 36" N, 24° 38' 18" E

Inčukalns Devil’s Cave was first described by the outstanding local history researcher Johann Christopher Brotze: “This cave is situated in Inčukalns surroundings not far from Stalči peasants’ homestead which lies at the Cēsis road 37 versts from Rīga, at a high rock of the primeval bank of the Gauja River in hardened gray sand. It seems that the cave has gradually originated from the spring which starts in the cave. The entrance is more than 2 men in height and

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narrow; however, inside the cave is rather wide and 10-12 people can fit in it. Inside there are also same smaller caves. The spring starting here falls into the Gauja River branch at the foot of the cave.” This description is supplemented by the oldest drawing of the cave created in the same year. The next very comprehensive description was published in 1847 by E. V. Ulprehts in his article about his trip from Riga to Inčukalns manor. The author has already indicated that many inscriptions have been scraped on the walls of the cave which appear as satellites of every larger tourist flow and prove that in the middle of the 19th century the cave had already become a tourist site. After a detailed description of the site Ulprehts indicated that due to the “awful” darkness and the complicated access to the cave, peasants have named the cave Devil’s Chamber or Devil’s Cave. The third significant publication about Inčukalns Devil’s Chamber refers to year 1890 when Silamalas Vaivariņš published the legend which is the only one known about Inčukalns Devil’s Cave. This legend presents valuable additional information to the facts mentioned before. Firstly, the legend about the Devil’s activities in the cave provides valuable explanation about its name of the cave which was first mentioned by Brotze exactly one century before. The text of the legend is interesting in the sense that here it involves the fight between the Devil and Thunder, which in such an untransformed form has been preserved in the Latvian cave folklore just in some cases as well as the comparatively new, imposed by Christianity, motif about the Satan as a torturer of souls and the cave as the site of undergoing the torture or the hell. This part of the tale allows including the cave in the group of mythological caves connected with the Devil. Another significant detail is the comment in the introductory part of the legend: “At that very place a small spring starts which in ancient times had had a huge healien power for all diseases. This is the reason why ancestors have sacrificed money to it.” Although both of the previously mentioned authors have mentioned the spring starting in the cave, the fact that the spring has used for health treatment is not stated in these descriptions. This information allows including the Inčukalns Devil’s Cave in the group of the cult caves of Latvia which are used in health treatment. In this cave archeologist Juris Urtāns made test trenches. In the test excavations under a 0.65 m deep layer of fallen sand the flowing sand of the spring appeared, however, the cultural layer was not found. The Devil’s Cave can be entered through an approximately a metre wide entrance and thus getting into a much vaster space, more than 6 m wide with about a 4 m high dome-like ceiling. On the right side of the space a narrow corridor starts which does not reach anywhere far, although according to the legend it leads to the Devil’s “bedroom”. Movement in the corridor is possible only in a squatting position. The total length of the cave is 16 m, the area - 35 m2. In the place where the vast forespace finishes and the narrow tunnel starts, a narrow, deep hole can be found in the ceiling – the so-called “Devil’s chimney”, but along the left wall of the vast space a spring is running which has gradually eroded the cave. It is interesting that at the cave entrance the spring running out from the cave merges with a spring running along the land surface which is running along the slope of the rock and previously crossing the narrow tunnel of the cave along the land surface (After: Laime, 2009).


A verst below the Gauja Bridge, not far from the Gauja River, next to the hill there is the Devil’s Cave or Devil’s Chamber. At the ground there is a cave, maybe an fathom (~2m) in its width and three fathoms in length, however, in the upper part it becomes entangled. Inside, first the cave goes straight then it turns right. At the same place inside a spring breaks out which in ancient times had a big healing effect in all diseases. For this reason also the ancestors sacrificed money to the spring. At the end of the big cave the small cave begins where a man can hardly climb in. In ancient time the Devil lived in this cave for many years. Once the Devil had annoyer the Father Thunder. He rashed after the Devil and reached him at the very moment he wanted to enter the cave. The Thunder struck, however did not hit the Devil himself, just split a big enough fragment of the rock. The Devil understood that no peace was going to be there and left his former dwelling site. When crawling along the small cave the premises could be achieved where the Devil had lived: there is a laid table and the bed where the Devil slept, however, it is impossible to stay there for long because below there is a cellar where the Devil has cut the souls in cuffs that came into his hands. These souls were making noise imploring to free them. The Devil, being afraid that some brave man might still come across who might want to free them has appointed his most loyal servant as a guard to blow fire at everybody who would try entering the cave and searching something with fire. (The fire blower in the cave most likely is the draft because most likely the other end of the cave is open as well.) On both sides of the cave there is a pond. The right side pond is called the Coldness pond because its water is always cold. (Vaivariņš, 1890).

Easily accessible from the road along the path
Infrastructure, management, facilities
A forest path to the site starts at the road, nowhere to park, good information signs
Local info
There is
10 - 40
Legal Status
Property of State
Inčukalns Devil’s cave is a well-known history and culture history monument. It can be accessed by car and/or walked to along the bank of the Gauja River from the side of Murjāņi bridge. The cave can also be reached from the other side along the forest path from the road leading to the currently not used Murjāņi Sanatorium. Here at the road there is a sign that the cave is 0.7 km away. At the cave, however, a little away from it, a recreation place has been arranged with a table, benches and litter bins. At the cave there is an information plate with a comprehensive text. At the cave, when passing along the path from the Murjāņi Sanatorium road a staircase with a handrail has been built in the cliff of the primeval hollow of the Gauja River.

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