The Karst region located in south-western Slovenia is a limestone plateau stretching between the Gulf of Trieste and Vipava valley. It is famous for its caves (formed due to the porous terrain) and probably the most significant ones are the Škocjan Caves.
Since ancient times people were attracted to the gorge where the Reka River dissappears underground; it sinks under a rocky wall on top of which lies the village of Škocjan after which the Caves are named.
Archaeological research has shown that people lived in the caves and the surrounding area from prehistoric times to the present, in total more than 5,000 years. Pioneering research of Karst and karst phenomena began in this area in the 19th century and the international karstological terms “karst” and “doline” originate here.
The importance of the Škocjan Caves has been acknowledged by UNESCO – in 1986 they entered the list of Natural and Cultural World Heritage Sites.
One of the most exceptional features that distinguishes the Škocjan Caves from other caves worldwide is the enormous volume of the underground canyon, formed due the the flowing of the Reka River. The canyon stretches around 2,600 m in length, from 10 to 60 meters wide and maximum of 146 in height. At some points the canyon expands into huge underground chambers, the largest of these the Martel Chamber. The Martel Chamber is more than 300 m long, at some points up to 120 meters wide and 146 high, giving a volume of 2.2 million cubic meters; it is one of the largest discovered underground chamber in Europe and the world.
The Caves are a home to an exceptionally diverse flora and fauna. The collapsing dolines and their surroundings offer shelter to rare and endangered bird species and several bat species and due to the particular geomorphologic and microclimatic conditionsan an extraordinary ecosystem has been preserved. The underground is rich with several species of cave animals: both those living on land and those living in water; some of them are the world-famous cave salamander (Proteus anguinus), endemic species of underground crustaceans, beetles etc.
The Škocjan Caves are less known than the Postojna Caves but given the fact that they are on UNESCO’s World Heritage sites they are definitely worth a visit!
How to get there
The easiest way to get there is the Ljubljana – Koper highway, Divača exit and then the turnoff for the village of Škocjan.
Another option to get to the Škocjan Caves is by train; the destination station is Divača and upon arrival there is a bus taking tourists directly to the Caves.
The guided tour takes around 3 hours and the entrance fee is 16 € for adults, 12 € for students and senior citizens and 7,50 € for children.