The Skocjan Caves is one of the most extensive cave systems in Europe and home to the largest cave chamber on the continent. Consisting mostly of a subterranean canyon, this cave is still being carved out by running water (and is known to flood during periods of substantial rain). The caverns are part of the Skocjan Caves Regionial Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The caves of Slovenia have been explored since ancient times, and the Skocjan Caves were documented in the 2nd century BC by the Greek geographer Posidonius of Rhodes. Late medieval maps note the location of the caves, making them among the best documented major cave systems in the world in pre-modern times. Both wide scale exploration and tourism began in the 19th century. The caves became protected as the Skocjan Caves Regional Park in 1991 after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
The Skocjan Caves are enormous, and so far only about four miles have been explored. The Reka River flows through the length of the cave system, entering at an area known as the Big Collapse Doline where one of the entrances is located. Among the highlights are Martel’s Chamber, one of the largest cave chambers in the world, and a steel bridge which spans the canyon hundreds of feet above the river rapids.
The Skocjan Caves are still something of a hidden natural treasure in Europe, known well to locals, but growing in tourism popularity with about one hundred thousand visitors per year. The surrounding park is home to the dramatic scenery of a magnificent gorge and lush forests. Web: www.park-skocjanske-jame.si (official website).