Location: The Skocjan Caves Park (Europe)
Location: The Skocjan Caves Park (Slovenia)


Due to their exceptional significance, the Škocjan Caves were entered on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites in 1986. International scientific circles have thus acknowledged the importance of the Caves as one of the natural treasures of planet Earth.

Ranking among the most important caves in the world, the Škocjan Caves represent the most significant underground phenomena in both the Karst region and Slovenia.more

From time immemorial, people have been attracted to the gorge where the Reka River disappears underground as well as the mysterious cave entrances. The Reka River sinks under a rocky wall; on the top of it lies the village of Škocjan after which the Caves are named.

Archaeological research has shown that people lived in the caves and the surrounding area in prehistoric times – from the Mesolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze and Iron Ages through Antiquity and the Middle Ages to the present; altogether for more than 5,000 years. The finds from this area testify that the Škocjan Caves had not only local but regional importance in prehistoric times. Pioneering research of Karst and karst phenomena began in this area in the 19th century. The international karstological terms "karst" and "doline" originate here.

Collapse dolines and their surroundings are home to rare and endangered birds and several bat species. Due to particular geo-morphological and microclimatic conditions, an extraordinary ecosystem has developed here in which the Mediterranean, Sub-Mediterranean, Central European, Illyrian and Alpine bio-geographical elements co-exist. Rare cave fauna are preserved in the underground system of the Reka River.



The Škocjan Caves remain the only monument in Slovenia and the Classical Karst region on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites. Thus, they hold a significant position among the world’s natural monuments. In addition to our caves, only those in the border area between Hungary and Slovakia (Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst), Mammoth Caves and Carlsbad Caverns in the USA have received the same honour. The entry itself is important from different perspectives: most significantly, that the Škocjan Caves have gained worldwide recognition and that the state has committed itself to doing everything in its power to conserve and protect this outstanding natural site.


Fun & sport

The park is located in the classical Karst and is a true open-air museum. Here you can acquaint yourself with distinctive aboveground and subterranean karst phenomena, the most characteristic example of which is unequivocally the Škocjan Caves (Škocjanske jame) system with its unique natural values. The area is renowned for its exceptional archaeological finds, pioneering explorations of the Karst underground, and rich natural and cultural heritage. Your stay in the park can be short or last several days, and can even include a visit to the Reka River basin in all its diversity.


History & culture

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. The last major achievement was the discovery of Tiha jama (Silent Cave) in 1904, when some local men climbed the sixty-metre wall of Müllerjeva dvorana (Müller Hall). The next important event took place in 1990, nearly 100 years after the discovery of Dead Lake. Slovenian divers managed to swim through the siphon Ledeni dihnik and discovered over 200 metres of new cave passages.


Interesting facts

The exceptional volume of the underground canyon is what distinguishes the Škocjan Caves from other caves and places them among the most famous underground features in the world. The river flowing through the underground canyon turns north-west before the Cerkvenik Bridge and continues its course along the Hankejev kanal (Hanke's Channel).



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