The karst in Slovenia is a carbonate rock plateau, composed mostly of limestone and dolomite, which is most well-known for its unique facades both above and below the surface. Located in the southwestern region of the country, the Karst Plateau not only marks the physical border between Italy and Slovenia but also a cultural border. The Notranjska area became known throughout Europe due to the Slovenian nobleman, Janez Vajkard Valvasor, for his many contributions to society, including an opus describing the beauties of the natural area. In addition to its history, the Slovenian Karst is well known for its castles, Predjama being the most popular.
The unique landscape of the karst in Slovenia is matched by few other places in the world, among them America's Carlsbad Caverns and the Burren region in western Ireland. The most well-known karst features of the Notranjska region are the caves that can be found throughout. There are more than 1,000 caves in Slovenia, and some of the most popular are at Predjama, located beneath the renowned Predjama castle; Skocjan, containing waterfalls as well as intriguing formations; and Postojna, the longest cave system in Slovenia.
At Predjama Castle, the limestone gracefully canopies the structure, and part of the landscape sometimes includes Cerknica Lake as well; it is an intermittent body of water that fills usually only during the spring and rainy seasons. However, when it does fill up, visitors flock to the shores for various water sports. Within the mouth of the Predjama cave, the Ilama Castle was built in the Renaissance era. The current castle, rebuilt in 1570, is open to visitors today and features a secret entrance that was used in the middle-ages when the castle was under siege, though this entrance is covered with rocks today. Behind the structure, the cave, officially named after Erazmova Jama, a knight who once lived in the castle, offers four levels of caverns, and on the deepest level the Lovka River flows.
Postojna is the largest cave in the Slovenian Karst, featuring railroad tracks laid in 1872 that can still be ridden today, and it is also home to one of the largest collections of cave animals in the world. With strategic electrical installations, the beautiful rock formations are illuminated throughout the more than 67,000-food cavern. Visitors are welcome to take tours, but keep in mind that due to the sensitive nature of the animals and structure of the cave, flash photography is strictly prohibited.
The Skocjan Caves are also worth a visit during any trip to Notranjska and the Slovenian karst. They are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are one of the must-sees for anyone interested in the geography of this unique landscape. A huge entrance greets visitors, and inside, guests will find dozens of waterfalls, intricate formations, and the Reka River, which disappears beneath the crust of the earth before entering the cave, continuing for just over twenty miles before resurfacing again and feeding into the Timavo River
The karst in Slovenia is one of the most unusual destinations in the country. With dramatic limestone formations hidden within the surrounding landscape, the host of intriguing sites offers travelers a one-of-a-kind experience during any trip to Slovenia, and the opportunity to see these caves and waterfalls is one not to be missed.