Monday, 26 October 2015

Beauty Škocjan Caves

The Škocjan Caves with their spacious underground halls, their unique underground canyon and their perfect condition hold a special place among the caves in Slovenia and the world, which is also proven by their placement on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites in 1986. The caves are visited by more than 100,000 visitors each year. Why don’t you visit them as well and use this opportunity to actively explore the Karst region?

Škocjan Caves
@The Škocjan Caves; www.park-skocjanske-jame.si

The Škocjan Caves Regional Park lies in the southwest of Slovenia in the Karst region, where the term “karst” originates from. It is located in the municipality of Divača, 15km from the Fernetiči border crossing, 80km from Ljubljana in the direction towards Koper and 12km from the Lipica Stud Farm. The surface of the park measures 413ha and encompasses the Matavun, Škocjan and Betanja villages.

No car? If you arrive in Divača by train, a free bus can take you the four kilometres to the park at certain hours of the day. If, however, you like to spend time in nature, this is an opportunity to walk the few kilometres long, marked and well-maintained footpath.

Škocjan Caves
@The Škocjan Caves; www.park-skocjanske-jame.si

Every day, regardless of the weather, experienced guides will wait for you at the entrance to the Škocjan Caves Regional Park and take you to the underground paradise. The Škocjan Caves are a web of eleven caves, landslips, sinkholes and natural bridges. The guides, who speak Slovenian, Italian, English and German, will take you through the Silent Cave, which is rich with dripstones, while a part of the path also leads through one of the biggest underground canyons in Europe. The path is three kilometres long and takes approximately one hour and a half to navigate. 

The visitors of the underground world are thrilled with the colorful and gigantic dripstones. The best known are dripstones in the form of organs and pans. The burbling of the Reka underground river and the majestic natural bridge over the river leads visitors into a different, fairy-tale world. You can also follow the Reka river below ground and view the river sinkhole in the Mahorčič and Marinič Caves.

For more information on the guided tours visit the Škocjan Caves Regional Park website. From January to May, guided tours take place twice a day during the week and three times a day on Sundays and holidays, and, during the summer season from June until September, guided tours take place every hour from 10am to 5pm.

Škocjan Caves Regional Park
@The Škocjan Caves; www.park-skocjanske-jame.si
Viewing the Škocjan Caves definitely does not exclude a visit to the park. In the park, you can walk along the Škocjan Educational Trail, which was recognized as the best thematic trail in Slovenia. The trail is two kilometres long, takes less than an hour to walk and features informational signs, which help you observe and learn about the karst nature.

Škocjan Educational Trail
@The Škocjan Caves; www.park-skocjanske-jame.si
From June to September the area of the park also features museum collections. The ethnological collection at the Jakopin Barn enables visitors to leap into the lives of our grandmothers and grandfathers. The barn was built before 1819. It was once intended for threshing cereals, storing hay and farming equipment, so this is where you can follow the process of transforming grain into bread.

The Delez Homestead features picturesque biological, geological and archaeological collections. The perhaps the best known exhibited object goes back to the 4th century B.C. It is a carving on a jar saying “OSTI JAREJ”, which perhaps means stay young. According to some records, this is the oldest writing in the Slovenian language.  At the Information Centre is a karstological collection on the history of exploring caves. Did you know that the Škocjan Caves can already be found on maps from the 16th century? Janez Vajkard Valvasor wrote about them, while his drawing from the end of the 17th century represents the first image of the sinkhole part of the Škocjan Caves.

The Škocjan Caves Regional Park covers the Matavun, Škocjan and Betanja villages, which have all maintained their old karst appearance. The villages offer numerous possibilities for culinary adventures. In the narrow area of the park by the reception centre stands the Mahnič Inn, which not only offers excellent food, but also boasts its own brewery. At the Matavun village you can have a snack at the Pr’Vncku Homestead, while a traditional menu awaits you at the Betanc Tourist Farm in Betanja.

@The Škocjan Caves; www.park-skocjanske-jame.si
The Škocjan Caves Regional Park is a good starting point for further exploration of the Karst region. This is where the Slovenian Mountain Path runs, while cyclists can find a real paradise, as well as explore hidden cycling paths. In the surrounding area, at the Belaj Homestead, you can view a karst herb garden, which is ideal for discovering the natural characteristics of Karst. We also recommend that you visit the Museum of Film Actors in Divača, where the first Slovenian film actress Ida Kravanja was born, who was later known by the name of Ita Rina and popular abroad. The exhibition at the museum enables visitors to satisfy their curiosity on their own with help of digital technology and broaden their knowledge about Slovenian actors and their films.

In the area of the park, locals offer numerous accommodation possibilities, while more affordable accommodation can be found in Ocizla, which is located 15 kilometres away from the park.

Hostel Ociski Raj
@Youth Hostel Ociski Raj

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