Postojna Jama, the main cave of Slovenia
Postojna is a small town only 50 km from the capital Ljubljana. Tourists flock there in droves to admire the underground beauty of the largest cave in Slovenia – Postojna Jama (Postojnska Jama).
Postojna Jama is sometimes called the main attraction of Slovenia. It is, of course, on the UNESCO list. I don’t know about the “main attraction,” but the cave is indeed grandiose. Before that my personal list of caves topped the Moravský Kras (most impressed by the boat trip on the underground river). Now Postojna Jama tops the list – and by a wide margin.
How Postojna Jama was found
There are more than 11,000 caves in Slovenia. Most of them are found in the Karst (Slovene for “Kras”) region, which lies between Postojna and Trieste. Such cavities under the ground became known as karst cavities after the name of this region.
Postojna Jama (often spelled Postojnska Jama) was discovered in the valley of the Piwnki River in the 17th century. In 1818 a local resident Luka Czech explored 300 m of cave passages and began to take visitors there. To date, speleologists have covered about 20 km, of which about 5 km are open to visitors.
In 1857, the imperial couple arrived in Postojna (there was no Slovenia then, this land belonged to the Austrian Habsburgs). On this occasion, a railroad was built to take the distinguished guests deep into the mountain. Later the same way was used for transporting visitors.
At first the carriages were pushed by guides. The guides were replaced by a gas locomotive, then an electric locomotive.
In 1884, electricity was installed in Postojna Jama, even earlier than in some Slovenian cities. The cave was illuminated.
In the two centuries since it was discovered, 35 million people have visited Postojna Jama.
How to get from Ljubljana to Postojna
There is a bus service from Ljubljana to Postojna Jama. The bus station in Ljubljana is opposite the train station. The bus runs for about an hour and the ticket costs 6 euros. See the current bus timetable at https://arriva.si/.
There are three buses to the cave on weekdays. On Sunday there are two: at 8 and 13:30. On Saturday none.
You can go to the town of Postojna, where the Postojna Jama Cave is 1.3 km away.
There are more frequent buses to Postojna, but none on Saturdays.
In front of the entrance to the cave
They say that a few years ago the area before the entrance to the cave looked quite wild: the valley of the river Pivky, the hillside covered with forest, and in the slope – the hole in the cave.
Now in front of the cave some infrastructure has blossomed: on the banks of the river park laid out, organized horse rent, in the depths of the forest hung “obstacle course”.
Pivka river valley
It is interesting that Pivka carries its waters into the Black Sea, not the Adriatic Sea which is nearby.
The park in front of Postojna Jama.
There is also a hotel for lovers of caves – Hotel Jama 4 *.
Along the slope of the mountain, from the hotel to the entrance of the cave stretches a series of canteens alternately with souvenir shops. So now everyone is happy: the tourists have something to brighten up the waiting time before the session, and traders kopek.
A number of cafes and souvenir shops.
The main souvenirs are handicrafts made of stones: from completely unworked to finished items such as necklaces.
There is another kind of souvenirs: soft toys in the form of “human fish”, “proteus” – a unique creature, the inhabitant of the local dungeons. This blind fish with delicate, hypersensitive skin lives safely underground and, thanks to slow metabolic processes, lives up to 100 years. It’s a bit of a nasty-looking worm, but it’s one of the brands of the Postoya Pit, and you can see its image everywhere you go.
The Underground Realm of the Postoy Pit
Admission to the cave is by session. The cost of the ticket is 23.90 euros. It is possible to take a combined ticket for 31.90 euros “the cave Postojna Jama + Castle Predyamský hailstones” (the castle is located 5 km from the cave, and I warmly recommend it, too). For the current price, see www.postojnska-jama.si.
Climbing the stairs:
After passing through a turnstile, visitors find themselves in a large room where they can rent a warm raincoat, a service for inconsiderate tourists dressed too lightly for walking through the cave. The temperature underground is about +8°C.
Then everyone walks to the train, which is a series of small platforms with benches set on them.
When the seats are filled, the train goes deep into the mountain.
I actually thought it was the main attraction: rushing underground through narrow passages with overhanging vaults – so you have to bend down – or through high halls. I was even a little disappointed.
It turns out that the train only takes you to the main attractions. And then the walk begins for an hour and a half, only to end up back near the train at the end of the route, which will already take you back.
Each group is accompanied by a conductor, who explains something. But there were no Russian-speaking guides in our days, we were accompanied by a Slovene, and then I completely fell behind, to get fewer people in the frame and to be in relative solitude among this beauty.
And the beauty all around was boundless. And if everything started quite ordinary: stalactites, stalagmites of different shapes and shades – everything, as in usual caves, then I started to see halls of immeasurable size, multilevel spaces, and even with the bridges, thrown over the precipices.
You had the feeling that you were in an underground magic kingdom. Huge halls were replaced by narrow passages. The path meandered among whitish statues, under overhanging arches, under silvery vaults with needle-like fringes.
And here is the so-called “Russian Bridge” – built by Russian prisoners of war during World War I. Thanks to this bridge in particular, an entire Italian military unit “leaked” through the system of passages of the Postoy Pit and ended up in the rear of the enemy Austrian troops.
We went from one level to the next until we descended into a huge cavity, the Concert Hall. I missed all of our guide’s explanations because I kept falling behind, but I think all of the explanations and historical references are superfluous here. When such grandiose images unfold before your eyes, you don’t need words. You are in a state of deep shock all the time, in the power of your inner dialogue with the place.
Towards the end of the journey, there was another hall with an aquarium, where you could look at “human fish”.
And then, somehow, all of a sudden, we were near the train. We sat down on the benches, and the train took us outside.
During our absence, nature turned a little darker. We walked around the park a little more, had lunch. And then we went for a new experience – to Predyamsky Castle, which also surprised and delighted us a lot.
Postojna Jama is difficult to surpass, but the castle was not simple too and was a continuation of the cave theme.
Postojna Jama – unique caves in Slovenia
Not far from the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, only 55 kilometers away, is the town of Postojna. Not far from this city is a huge karst cave, known as Postojnska or Postojna Jama (Slovenia). The word “jama” in this name should not be confusing, because in Slovenian it means “cave.
Postojnska Jama (Postojnska Jama) is a spectacular underground cavity in karst rock, built by nature itself, or more precisely by waters of small and not very impressive Piwnka River. Pivka River flows through the cave itself – here its bed stretches for 800 meters, you can see it near the caves, you can even see the place where the water goes underground.
All studied passages of the Postojna Jama cave in Slovenia are 25 kilometers long. Over thousands of years a grandiose stone labyrinth was formed with a rich content: grottoes and tunnels, passages and descents, ascents and gaps, cavities, halls and galleries, stalactites and lakes, rivers going underground.
Needless to say, this fantastic natural splendor arouses interest and attracts many tourists? Postojnska jama, one of the most grandiose and mysterious caves in Slovenia, has had a huge number of visitors in the last 200 years – their number has reached 39 million.
Excursions in Postojnska Jama
In 1818 only 300 meters of the cave passages were available for tourist visits, but today it is possible to see more than 5 kilometers of underground formations during the sightseeing tours. Tour of the cave, which includes a train ride in the cave and walk along the footpath, takes an hour and a half. Each tour of the Postojnska Cave is accompanied by guides who provide visitors with information about what they have seen in Slovenian, Italian, English or German. Visitors can also use audio guides, which are available in 17 languages, including Russian. The cave tours are suitable for all visitors, including families with small children and visitors with disabilities.
There are almost always many people who want to see Postojna Jama, and it is best to come to the opening – there may not be any queues at this time. Entrance to the cave complex is in session, every 30 minutes. Exactly at the time designated on the ticket, visitors go inside and get on the underground train in an orderly manner – so the tour begins.
Until 1878, visitors could tour the cave only on foot. For the last 140 years the train takes travelers to the “heart” of the Postojna Pit – its 3.7-kilometer journey begins on a unique platform, not much different from a major train station. The walking part of the tour lasts one hour, and then, just as organized, everyone returns to the underground train stop and travels from the cave to the sun.
The first place where the train takes tourists is the Old Cave – it was discovered in 1818 by Luka Čech, a Slovak living nearby. The cave has attracted the interest of speleologists and archaeologists, who managed to see other, previously unnoticed passages. Postojna Jama contains many unusual rooms, but the most beautiful and most famous part is the conference hall. Its huge size, walls covered with unusually curved smooth stone and excellent acoustics create a special atmosphere of solemnity and set the mood for seriousness. During the Christmas holidays a huge Christmas tree is installed in the Conference Hall and performances based on biblical scenes, accompanied by live music and splendid illumination, are shown.
The most interesting and amazing stalagmite in the whole labyrinth of the caves is the “Diamond” – this unique 5-meter formation of shining white limestone is considered the symbol of the caves. The “diamond” was formed on the site of constant trickling of water from the ceiling, which is saturated with calcite. The latter is what makes this formation white and amazingly radiant.
Before entering the Postojna Jama cave system, you can buy separate tickets to visit the vivarium. But there is not much point in going to it – the cave itself is home to the most interesting local creature. We are talking about the European protheus. Proteus is a lizard-like amphibian, up to 0.3 meters long, but perfectly smooth. It is the only vertebrate in Europe that lives entirely underground. The organism of the proteus is adapted to living in the dark, and this animal absolutely cannot tolerate sunlight. The local people call these subterranean inhabitants “fish-man” and “human fish”.
After the tour around Postoinjska Jama, you can browse the souvenir stores, which are very numerous. The main assortment of these stores comes to an insane amount of various jewelry made of semi-precious stones and standard souvenir products.
For your information. Read about Slovenia’s main natural attraction, Lake Bled, here.
Cave opening hours and costs to visit
Every day, even on public holidays, the cave complex Postojna Jama (Slovenia) awaits visitors – opening hours are as follows:
- January – March: 10:00, 12:00, 15:00;
- in April: 10:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 16:00;
- in May – June: 09:00 – 17:00
- July – August: 09:00 – 18:00; September: 09:00 – 17:00;
- September: 09:00 – 17:00; October: 10:00 – 12:00; July – August: 09:00 – 18:00;;
- In October: 10:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 16:00;
- In November – December: 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Tickets for the tour of the cave complex have to be paid (if purchased online):
- for adults 25,8€;
- For children over the age of 15 and for students 20,6€;
- for children from 5 to 15 years old 15,5 €;
- for children up to 5 years old 1€.
Prices are valid as of March 2021. Check www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/ for the latest information. Tickets are cheaper on the website than at the box office at the park entrance.
Ticket prices are per person and include basic accident insurance and use of an audio guide. Audio guides are available in many languages, including Russian.
For the use of parking in front of the complex you have to pay 4 € per day. Tourists staying at the Postojna Cave Hotel Jama will be able to park for free.
Postojna Cave is not a very pleasant place in terms of climatic conditions. The temperature does not rise above +10 … +12 ° C and the humidity is very high.
Tourists going to explore the underground labyrinths should not only dress warmly, but also wear comfortable shoes that are comfortable to walk on the wet paths. You can rent a raincoat at the entrance to the attraction for 3.5€.
Useful things to know! The thermal Slovenian resort Rogaška Slatina is described in detail in this article.
- Postojnska jama in Slovenia allowed to build the first documented railroad in an underground cave (officially opened on June 16, 1872).
- Electric lighting in the Pit was carried out earlier than in London.
- Proteus adults have no eyes; they “see” everything by means of skin receptors. “Dragons” are very good at sensing their prey, and their skin is also very sensitive to light. They can go without food for up to twelve years and have a life span of up to 100 years.
- The oldest dated stalagmite located along the tourist route of Postojna Cave in Slovenia is called a skyscraper, and its majesty speaks eloquently about its age – it is 16 meters high. Scientists have used a special technique to date it, and its official age is estimated at about 150,000 years.
On a side note. What to see at the largest lake of Slovenia Bohinj learn on this page.
How to get to Postojnska Jama
Postojna Jama (Slovenia) is located 55 kilometers from Ljubljana. By car from the Slovenian capital, take the A1 highway, heading in the direction of port Koper and Trieste until the turnoff for Postojna, and then follow the signs. From Trieste, take the A3, taking the Divac road, and then take the A1 to Postojna.
You can walk to the park from Postojna in 25 minutes or you can take a bus from the bus station in the center.
Video: what you will see at the tour of Postojnska Jama.
Author: Irina Kovaleva
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