This week’s post delves into the depths of the Postojna Cave (Slovene: Postojnska jama), a spectacular 24 kilometer-long karst cave system located in southwestern Slovenia. The caverns – a jaw-dropping natural wonder unlike any other we’ve visited – are one of many reasons the Balkan state is on our list of European favorites!
While Postojnska jama has officially welcomed awestruck visitors for nearly 200 years, its history spans many centuries more. Indeed, the sections of the cave closest to the entrance likely provided shelter to humans as early as prehistoric times; signatures on the walls of the Passage of Old Signatures also indicate that people reached this portion of the cave as early as the 13th century. Luka Čeč, a local lamplighter, discovered the inner sections of the Postojna Cave – previously unknown – in 1818. A year later, the cave welcomed its first official visitor (heir to the throne of Ferdinand I), ushering in the era of modern cave tourism. For many years, visitors were able to explore the cave only on foot. In 1872, railway tracks were laid from the cave’s entrance to the Great Mountain, giving visitors the option of a ride in two-seater carriages pushed by guides. It was not until after World War I, in 1924, that a gas locomotive was introduced (replaced by an electric train after 1945). Today, approximately 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometers) of the cave are open to visitors.
These caves are so remarkable, B. has actually explored them twice!
We first visited on a very rainy day in May 2012, and B. again on a sunny morning in October 2016. On both occasions, we/she purchased tickets roughly 45 minutes before the day’s first tour, and gathered outside the Jamski Dvorec Mansion – a historic restaurant and events venue – until a guide arrived to usher visitors inside.
The visitor entrance to the cave is located directly adjacent to the mansion. Immediately upon entry, we excitedly scrambled onto the passenger train, eager to see what awaited within. And holy cow, were we blown away!
Postojna Cave’s most beautiful stalagmite is known as the ‘Brilliant’. Located at a spot with a strong and even drip from the ceiling, this 5-meter-tall stalagmite owes its outstandingly white and shiny appearance to a thin layer of pure calcite sinter deposited constantly and evenly by water trickling down upon its rounded crown.
Unfortunately, these images don’t do the caves justice (at all!). At every turn during our tour, a new tunnel, passage, gallery or hall appeared, each more breath-taking than the last. It was absolutely magical!
As we arrived back at the cave entrance, T. spotted this sign – a perfect representation of what the rebel versions of ourselves wanted to do (but didn’t, don’t worry!) the entire tour. Slovenia was ready for us!
Additional information regarding ticket prices and tour dates is available on the cave’s website.
Thank you for viewing! – T. & B. June
Next week’s journey: Canals of Bruges – Belgium