Travel to Slovenia

Day 10 Pivka - Skocjan caves – Hrastovlje - Piran (168 Km.)

(in 22 Km.) Škocjan Caves: The main attraction of the Škocjan Regional Park (http://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/) they are the caves of the same name. The Škocjan Caves or Grotte di San Canziano caves were discovered in the 19th century. In 1986 they were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The caves are located near the town of Divaca, on the route that leads to the coastal city of Koper. Skocjanske receives many fewer visits than the Postojna caves, and allows a quiet walk through its gigantic halls: the Silent cave, the Murmuring cave of the Reka River and the Great White Cave, the latter with more than thirty meters in height. The grottos were opened to the public in 1884 and, since then, they have not stopped surprising geologists, speleologists and travelers who stop to visit them on the way to the Adriatic beaches.

Škocjanske jame - Skocjan Caves

Š kocjanske jame - Škocjan Caves

The 11 interconnected chambers that make up the Skocjan Jama (Skocjanske Caves) extend for almost 6 km (about 4 miles) through an underground landscape so dramatic that UNESCO has declared them a World Heritage Site. The 90 minute walking tour of the two main chambers - the Silent Cave and the Murmuring Cave - meander along limestone sculptures, huge sinkholes, stalactites and stalagmites that look like the horns of some mythical creature. The point of interest is the largest chamber of caves in Europe, a gorge of 146 meters (438 feet) high, 123 meters (369 feet) wide and 300 meters (900 feet) long, crossed by a small bridge illuminated with footlights. Far below, the bright jade color waters of the Reka River rush through its underground journey. The panorama is captivating.

Škocjanske jame - Skocjan Caves

Š kocjanske jame - Škocjan Caves

Description of the caves: The Škocjan Caves are an unique natural phenomenon, the creation of the Reka River. The Reka River advances below the Snežnik plateau and flows approximately fifty-five kilometers across the surface. After reaching the karstic zone, with a calcareous surface, the river bed is not only submerged by erosion, but also corrodes the calcareous stone, dissolving it. In the first part of its course through the zone of calcareous earth the Reka still flows on the surface, along a throat of approximately 4 kilometers that ends in a wall under which it submerges. The hidden valley of the Reka River is the largest in Slovenia. In the distant past, probably in the early Pleistocene, hundreds of thousands of years ago, the roof of the cave collapsed about two hundred meters. Velika dolina (up to 165 meters deep) and Mala Dolina (120 meters) were created as a result of the sinking, separated by a natural bridge, a rest of the original roof of the cave. Above the caves, between the walls of the sinkhole and the walls of Mala Dolina, is the village of Škocjan. Near the houses there is another entrance to the cave, a 90 meter deep abyss called Okroglica, which ends just above the Reka underground river.

At the bottom of the Velika dolina, the Reka River finally disappears under the ground and reappears again thirty-four kilometers further on, at the sources of the Timava River, near the Adriatic coast. The part of the Škocjan Caves through which the Reka River flows, called Šumeca jama (Murmuring Cave), is only 3.5 kilometers long, between 10 and 60 meters wide and more than 100 meters high. The total length of all the passages of the cave is about 6 kilometers, while the height difference between the highest entrance (Okroglica abyss) and the lowest point of the caves discovered by man, which is a siphon, is of 205 meters. In some places the gorge extends to underground chambers. The largest of them is the Martel's Chamber, 308 meters long, 89 meters wide (with a maximum of 123 meters) and 106 meters high, with the highest point of the roof 146 meters above the river Reka (Drole, 1997).

Škocjanske jame - Skocjan Caves

Š kocjanske jame - Škocjan Caves

The visit of the Škocjan Caves begins at the Matavun Information Center. The road takes us to the typical sink karstic sinkhole, called by the local inhabitants as Globocak. An artificial tunnel of 116 meters built in 1933 leads us to the interior of the natural cave. The entrance passage, abundantly covered with stone deposits, is called Paradiž (Paradise) and contains the most beautiful and preserved stalactite formations of the Škocjan Caves. The visit then continues through the Labirint (Labyrinth) to the Great Hall, from which huge stalactites called Orjaki (Giants) grow up to 15 meters high. A little further on from the famous Orgle (Organo), visitors can hear for the first time the roar of the river, which enters the underground karst world through the spacious Šumeca jama (Murmuring Cave). When we leave Tiha jama (the Silent Cave), the view of the underground canyon of the Reka River is very impressive both for those who visit it for the first time and for those who have already visited it. The visit continues through a gallery carved into the rocky walls towards the Cerkevnik bridge that rises over the riverbed at a height of 45 meters, precisely at the point where the Reka River enters the Hanke Canal. Going down the Müller and Svetina Halls halls, we reach the lowest point of the visit, 144 meters below the surface. Then while we leave for a moment the Reka River we ascend towards Dvorana ponvic (Rimstone Pools' Hall). Visitors again see the light of day in the Schmidl room that was upstairs with the high walls of the 165 meter high Velika dolina. At the base of this collapse sinkhole, we see for the last time the Reka River and over a 10-meter-high waterfall. The path then ascends through the passageway called Pruker to the elevator that takes us from the collapse sinkhole. The visit ends where it started, at the Matavun Information Center.

Hrastovlje

Hrastovlje

(in 31 Km.) Hrastovlje: On the way to Piran we find one of the treasures of Slovenian Romanesque: the fortified church of Trojica. Hidden behind the defensive walls of this small town is the tiny Romanesque Cerkev sveti Trojice (Church of the Holy Trinity) . Upon entering, they put a recording in Spanish with explanations of each of the paintings of the place, which constituted a Bible for the poor.

Scenes from the Old Testament are shown, such as the seven days of Creation, Adam, Eve, Abel, Cain, etc .; of the New Testament, with Jesus preaching and betrayed and crucified; with habitual scenes of work in the town, with an image for each month of the year, with images of the apostles and of the Trinity (that gives name to the church), and also of the virgin Maria like queen of the sky. But the church is not famous for all this, but because one of the frescoes continues to put the rich and poor, the powerful and the humble, in the same bag. Like the others, the fresco was painted in 1490, and the Pope, the kings and cardinals, the rich, the poor and children are all in the Macabre Dance that will take us all, it is not something that leaves us indifferent.

Hrastovlje

Hrastovlje

(in 35 Km.) Piran: We arrive at one of the few kilometers of coast that Slovenia has. The city of Piran is on the Adriatic coast and extends along the Piran Peninsula. The name Piran derives from the Greek pyr (fire) in references to the bonfires of the old lighthouse that was built on the coast of the city. The city is surrounded by medieval walls that are formed by two parallel walls built between the seventh and sixteenth centuries.

Piran

Piran

Among its terraced houses and narrow streets there are numerous works of art. The most visible and famous is the church of St. George (Cerkev Sv. Jurija) with its tall bell tower built by G. di Nodari and B. Torra in the seventeenth century. In addition, San Jorge is the patron of Piran. Between the monuments and other curiosities they also emphasize the palaces: the Venetian House (Benecanka), the House of Tartini (Tartinijeva hiša), the Palace of Justice (Sodna palaca) and the City Council (Obcinska palaca), the museums: the Maritime Museum of Sergej Mašera (Pomorski muzej Sergej Mašera) and the Salinas Museum (Muzej solinarstva) and the galleries: the Piran Gallery (Mestna galerija Piran). In the center of the main square, the Tartini Square (Tartinijev trg), stands a bronze statue of the violinist and composer Guiseppe Tartini (1692-1770), one of the great violin geniuses who was born in Piran.

(in 80 Km.) Pivka: We go to sleep at the farm.