The Manín Gorge was declared a national nature reserve in 1967.With land area of 117.63 ha, it is situated between the two distinct peaks of Veľký Manín (890 m) and Malý Manín (812 m), which at one time constituted a continuous limestone ridge. After cutting through the soft calcareous clays, the Manín stream reached the bedrock and carved a valley also into the hard and resistant limestone. Its path was made easier by fractures in the rock. The result is a narrow gorge with steep rock faces. The difference in altitude between the bottom of the gorge and the summit of Veľký Manín is almost 400 metres. Via the whirling movement of large pieces of debris in the stream trapped in the cavities of the narrowest parts of the gorge, smooth rounded hollows, or “giant pots”, were formed by the abrasion of rocks.
The Manín Gorge is less than one kilometre long and in some places it is only few metres wide. At one time, the narrowest place of the gorge was too narrow for wagons to pass. Wagoners had to unload their goods, disassemble their wagon, carry everything through, and assemble their wagon again. This continued until 1933 when part of the rock face was blown up in the narrowest part of the gorge, and a paved road was built. The Manín Gorge is thus the narrowest gorge in Slovakia with an asphalt road.
There are varied microclimatic conditions in the gorge – in the sun-exposed locations of the rock cliffs, thermophilic species grow, and in the wet shady places there are more cryophilic mountain species. Among others, the Intermediate Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla subslavica), the Alpine aster (Aster alpines), and the Primula Auricula (also known as the mountain cowslip or bear's ear) attract attention here.
The rock faces of the Manín Gorge are among the best rock climbing terrains in Slovakia. However, climbing activities are regulated here by the State Nature Conservancy authority.
The Kostelecká Gorge nature reserve is the eastern continuation of the Manín Gorge. It was also created by an epigenetic incision of the Manín stream into the limestone Drieňovka cliff (639 m). There is a nature trail through both gorges which continues to the Bosmany Natural Monument, through to the summit of Veľký Manín, offering a view of the surrounding countryside.
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