Slovenia's Postojna caves still a magnet for tourists
Slovenia's tourist organizations are trying hard to attract tourists from abroad, promoting the country's unspoiled nature, thermal spas, mountains and coastal regions. But there's one Slovenian attraction that has been drawing visitors by the million. Literally.
The world famous Postojna Cave was discovered in 1818 and since then millions of visitors from all over the world have admired this fascinating underground world in Slovenia's Carst region. The visitors of the cave learn about the formation of caves, they experience a guided visit through passages and chambers and they can observe stalactites hanging from the ceiling, stalagmites growing from the floor and more. Last weekend the Postojna Caves hosted a special ceremony to mark the 32 millionth visitor to the caves. Bogdan Debevc, head of the cave's guides, says Postojna is unique:
"The Postojna caves are the biggest the most beautiful and the most visited caves in the world. Its total length amounts to more than 20 km, open to the public are about 11 km and there is also the electric train in the caves, so we can say that the cave is very easy accessible and people can walk normally and admire this underground world of the Carst region."
A regular visit lasts about and 1 hour and a half and the visitor can see about 5 km of the cave. The visitors explore 2 km of the cave by train then they walk for 1km when they reach the so called concert hall and return again by train. 32 million visitors since the cave has been discovered at the beginning of the 19th century is is a lot but the numbers of visitors declined dramatically after Slovenia's independence, Bogdan Debevc:
"The situation now is like that we have about 500 to 550 thousand visitors per year. But before the confrontation in former Yugoslavia it was close to 1 million visitors in one year. After the independence the number of visitors extremely decreased by more than 85 % but now the situation is getting better and better."
Most visitors are from Italy, Austria, the UK and also Slovenia. Those who want to experience adventure in the Postojna caves can do so by taking part in the so-called adventure visits. Bogdan Debevc explains:
"Besides the regular visits we do also special tours, adventurous tours, where the visitors can get into the side galleries, they remain in the cave 4 to 5 hours, we give them all the equipment and they admire the cave without electricity. They have to walk through this underground world and this is really a nice experience."