Slovenian Caves & Castles
The first written sources on the Škocjan Caves date back as early as the 2nd century B.C. In 1689, the Slovenian scholar J. V. Valvasor described the sink of the Reka River and its underground flow. The systematic exploration of the Škocjan Caves began in the 19th century, with explorers reaching the banks of Mrtvo jezero (Dead Lake) in 1890.
Referred to as the Underground Grand Canyon, the Škocjan Caves are considered some of the largest subterranean chambers in the world. The caves were formed over eons by the Reka River, which still flows along the bottom of the underground canyon. In reality, the Škocjan Caves probably have more in common with New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns; the cave's largest canyon measures, at some points, almost 200 feet across and 460 feet tall and is spanned by a narrow bridge. Thanks to the water flowing through the caves, several stunning geological features can be found inside the chambers, including limestone pools and massive stalagmite formations.
In the Tominčeva Cave at least 10 skeletons were discovered along with funerary goods (animal bones, ceramics). It’s thought that humans lived in some of the caves between 3,000 – 1,700 B.C.
The impregnable medieval marvel has been perched in the middle of a 123-meter-high cliff for more than 800 years. Behind the largest cave castle in the world, there is a network of secret tunnels, from where the knight Erazem of Predjama would set out on his plundering expeditions. A renowned robber baron, he was the son of the imperial governor of Trieste, Nikolaj Lueger.
The end came according to the legend during a siege by soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire when its owner was betrayed by a servant while sitting on the toilet.
Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.Richard Francis Burton