'Ice palace' soothes summer heat

Updated: 2011-08-21 09:11

By Lisi Niesner (China Daily)

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'Ice palace' soothes summer heat

A man with a torch walks in the Natur Eis Palast (Nature Ice Palace) inside the Hintertuxer Glacier in the Austrian province of Tyrol, Aug 10, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

'Ice palace' soothes summer heat

Tourists take photos in the snow at the Hintertuxer Glacier in the Austrian province of Tyrol, Aug 10, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

An Austrian "ice palace" deep inside a frozen glacier gives visitors a break from the heat of the season. Reuters photographer Lisi Niesner returns with some cool shots.

An astonishing glacial "palace" discovered by accident four years ago has become a quirky summer tourist attraction in the Zillertal Alps of Austria.

Since glaciers are both fragile and organic - the ice shrinks, grows and moves - there was initial resistance to opening the icy cave to the public. But little movement of the ice wall was recorded in a year of observation, and The Nature Ice Palace (Natur Eis Palast), inside the Hintertuxer Glacier in the Austrian province of Tyrol, has been open to the public since November 2008.

Roman Erler of Natursport Tirol, an adventure travel company, made the surprise discovery when he found a hollow in the glacier at 3,288 meters (10,787 feet). Local tour operators say the temperature inside the cave is constant between 0 degree C and -2 degree C.

But outside, the bright sun glistening off the snow and ice can still give the bikini-clad an overall tan.

A plethora of ice crystals and pillars give the "palace" its name. A snowy pathway from the viewing platform near the highest point of the glacier leads to the palace gateway.

The site features a frozen glacial lake, a glittering crystal chamber up to 15 meters high, ice stalactites up to 7 meters long, frozen waterfalls and many spectacular natural ice formations.

Reuters - China Daily

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