In researching Slovenia, I came across two caves that we could visit, Postonja Caves and Skocjan Cave. Realizing we would probably only have time for one, we picked Postonja because it was so close to Predjama Castle and you could get a ticket package for both. I’ve been in several natural caves during college in Central Pennsylvania and also some open to the public for touring, so I was a little skeptical that these tourist caves would be any good but boy was I wrong!
When we arrived at Postonja Cave, I became more concerned. There were large parking lots, dozens of tour buses, ticket booths, tchotchke shops, and fast food restaurants all within the complex outside the cave. This looked like the Disney of tourist caves. As we bought our tickets, the person informed us we would gather by tour group language and we would be taken in to the cave by train. I thought “yikes, this is going downhill fast” and was questioning if it was even worth it.
We entered the train area within the rock (not really part of the cave but an area they excavated) and was pretty impressed with how professional it was, I felt they had done a nice job that clearly had been thought out, and well funded and built. We boarded the train (imagine a small, open air train for kids like you see at Disney or your local mall) and they told us to keep our hands and cameras inside the car and for tall people to look out. They weren’t kidding. The tunnel they excavated for the train was not much wider than the train itself, and I had the feeling if I was an inch or two taller (I’m 6′-3″) I might have gotten a hair cut by the tunnel.
Although the train ride in this excavated tunnel was a novelty, I was thinking that this was no great cave system. Then we entered the first part of the cave…holy crap, the cave was absolutely stunning. We were whisked through small and larger rooms of stunning cave beauty on the train until we arrived at the “station” inside a large room of the cave. On stepping off the train, I realized I was wrong, this is the most beautiful cave I have ever seen. The natural beauty, the cave formations, the rooms, the scale of it all exceeded any expectations I could have had. The experience is hard to describe. When I think of the millions of years it took for the cave to develop, the enormous stalactites and stalagmites, the flow stone, the thousands of small stalactites hanging from the ceiling in one room called the spaghetti factory, it was just awe inspiring. All of the Disney atmosphere disappeared for me when we entered the cave.
I’m glad we saw the Predjama cave first because there is no comparison. The scale of Postojna almost defies description. Dozens of kilometers of caves, most of it explored but only about 1 km open to the public through the normal tour. Rooms that are 100 meters top to bottom and even more in diameter. Spectacular formations in every direction and of every size and shape. Sure there were a lot of tourists and the cave was lit by artificial light (done well), but that all was inconsequential in view of the geological masterpiece before my eyes. I strongly encourage anyone to visit this cave as it’s a stunning example of a cave system. As tourist caves go, this one is well done. Did I mention we love Slovenia?