Enormous, ethereal ice caves inspire the inner explorer in many of us. These building-size structures, often the product of glacial movement, are visually stunning, haunting, and so photogenic. Entire tours are built around ice cave explorations in certain countries (particularly Iceland), allowing intrepid visitors to take in the fascinating cave architecture, which ranges from mighty, open cathedrals to snake-like tunnels, to simple enclosed holes under the surface of a glacier.
Sadly, however, in many places, ice caves are rapidly becoming a fading phenomenon thanks to the increasingly brutal realities of climate change, says Ryan Connolly, co-founder of the tour company Hidden Iceland. “These days, the year-round temperature is higher causing an increased melting rate,” says Connolly. “All of the ice caves are melting away or collapsing.” For armchair explorers everywhere, here are some of the most jaw-dropping ice caves, past and present, from around the world.