The National Bank of Slovakia have issued (15th November) their latest gold coin within their currently running series “World Natural Heritage,” which highlights geographical areas of the country that are of particular natural beauty and are part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) list of protected areas. This year’s coin is dedicated to the Caves of Slovak Karst.
Extending over a relatively small area that consists of 712 caves spread out over a total area of 55,800 hectares (138,000 acres) along the border of Hungary and Slovakia, the subterranean landforms of the Slovak Karst and Aggtelek Karst are outstanding for their extraordinary diversity of composition and morphology, variety of flowstones, dripstones, and remarkable fauna. The naturally occurring site includes many endemic species and a treasure-trove of archaeological artifacts that provide evidence of past human habitation and activity, primarily from the Early and Late Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Middle Ages. A total of 1,184 caves are currently recorded in the Slovak part of this Karst system, and 280 caves in the Hungarian part. No other temperate-zone cave system in the world features such a concentration of archetypal caves.
A favourable climate and geographical condition have given rise to a variety of species of subterranean fauna in the Slovak Karst and Aggtelek Karst. These cave-dwelling animals include species found only in this cave system, their endemism is a result of an exclusively underground, or hypogeal habitat. Such species include the tiny white crustacean Niphargus aggtelekiensis, the pseudoscorpion Neobissium (Blothrus) slovacum, the Pseudosinella aggtelekiensis, the tiny beetles Duvalius hungaricus and Duvalius bokori. Other rare invertebrates such as Eukoenenia spelaea and Typhloiulussp have recently been discovered in Gombasecká Cave and Domica Cave. Bats are another important group of animals found in these caves with water playing an essential role in the formation of the caves. Over several million years, rainwater — enriched with carbon dioxide from the soil, and, to a lesser extent, air — steadily dissolved the thick limestone layers of the Slovak Karst, forming hollow spaces that evolved into caves.
In Gombasecká Cave, the straw stalactites are up to three metres (twelve feet) long, while in Krásnohorská Cave there is a 34 meter (105 feet) high sinter stalagmite — extremely large even by European standards. In Jasovská Cave, water is present only in the lowest depths, while the massive sizes and fascinating surfaces of the more elevated older chambers are a huge attraction for visitors. Interestingly, a legible Hussite inscription from 1452 has been preserved in this part of the cave. Some caves were formed by the dissolution effect of standing or slowly flowing water which filled underground chambers up to the ceiling. One example is Ochtinská Aragonite Cave whose chambers, once drained, were seen to be covered with clusters of beautiful needle and spiral helicities of aragonite crystals.
The coin is produced by the Kremnica Mint on behalf of the National bank of Slovakia and is designed by Roman Lugár. The engraver is Dalibor Schmidt. The obverse design captures the essence of cave formation by showing the surface of a small cave lake and ripples caused by water dripping from a stalactite. Positioned prominently in the upper and right side of the design is a depiction of the white cave-dwelling crustacean Niphargus aggtelekiensis, its shape mirroring the outer ripples. The Slovak coat of arms appears at the bottom centre, and to the left of it is the name of issuing country SLOVENSKO inscribed in a semi-circle along the edge. The year 2017 is shown next to the edge and at the top of the design are the stylized letters RL, the initials of the designer, Roman Lugár, and the mint mark of the Kremnica Mint.
The reverse of the coin shows a bat flying in front of the Rožňava Cavers´ Dripstone in Krásnohorská Cave. The coin´s denomination 100 EURO appears in two lines above the bat. Along the edge of the design are inscriptions JASKYNE SLOVENSKÉHO KRASU (Caves of Slovak Karst) and SVETOVÉ PRÍRODNÉ DEDIČSTVO (World Natural Heritage).
|9.5 g||26 mm||Proof||
The Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst were approved for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 on the basis of a joint Slovak-Hungarian nomination proposal. In 2000 the site was extended to include Dobšinská Ice Cave situated in the Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj) National Park. The Proof quality coin is encased in an acrylic capsule and housed in a custom presentation case along with a certificate of authenticity. For additional information on this and other coins issued by the National Bank of Slovakia, please visit the website of the Kremnica Mint.