The Škocjan Caves Park
The Škocjan Caves have featured on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List since 1986.
Among all the world’s karst caves that are invaluable natural heritage, the Škocjan Caves are truly extraordinary. This is not just because of the planet’s largest underground canyon that astonishes every visitor – the Škocjan Caves Park is very recognisable for several reasons. Visitors can get to know the characteristic karst landscape, unique in the world, featuring the highest concentration of natural wonders and/or natural heritage in a single place, in the form of karst or other phenomena and sights. The distinct and highly diverse flora and fauna in this relatively small space add special value to the Park.
The Škocjan Caves Park is located in the far south-east of the traditional Karst, near the town of Divača. The Škocjan Caves system is a broad network of underground caves, passages, collapse dolines, natural bridges and swallow holes. It was created by the Reka River which, after flowing for 50 km on the surface, disappears in this location into the karst underground and reappears in water sources near the Gulf of Trieste. Its underground gorge of extraordinary dimensions is the most familiar part of the Škocjan Caves.
This mysterious world has attracted people since prehistoric times. The Park features many important archaeological sites, revealing the area was populated already a few thousand years B.C. The abundance of valuable archaeological finds from different historical periods testify to the spiritual rituals and uses of caves as sacred places.
The Škocjan Caves and the entire Park enjoy maximum protection which enables this invaluable natural wealth to be kept intact. In 1986, Škocjan Caves were added to UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites. In 1999, they were entered on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance as an underground wetland. In 2004, the whole Park area was accepted into UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) as the Karst Biosphere Reserve.
The Škocjan Caves Park offers different visits to sites and a range of experiences. We recommend:
- a visit to the famous Škocjan Caves in the company of experienced guides; duration: about 1.5 hours;
- a visit to the Marinič Cave and the Mahorčič Cave, along with Mala Dolina valley; duration: about 1 hour;
- a visit to the ethnological collection in J'kopinov skedenj (i.e. a barn), the karstological collection in Jurjev skedenj (i.e. a barn) as well as the biological, geological and archaeological collections in the Delezova domačija (natural-science & educational centre); a visit to the museum collections is included in the Škocjan Caves Park's offer during the high season from June to September; duration: about 1 hour;
- a walk along a marked educational trail particularly suitable for school groups; for organised groups, based on prior booking, a guided tour is available on the educational trail in the form of a field class with worksheets (duration: about 2 hours); the visit also includes all museum collections; combinations with other Park services are also possible, for example a visit to Škocjan Caves and the educational trail;
- a visit to the Velika Dolina valley, which is only available to organised groups with prior booking (duration: about 45 minutes);
- culinary experiences in the Škocjan Caves Park and on the Pr’ Betanci tourist farm;
- an overnight stay in the Škocjan Caves Park in private rooms or apartments owned by the locals.