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Saturday, September 3, 2016

8/26: Great Views at Postonja Caves & Predjama Castle near Ljubljana

I had almost finished the post for our adventures on 8/25 but, thanks to my goof, about 8 hours of time spent on the post disappeared with the press of a couple of buttons into some dark void, never to be seen again. Of course, I had already trashed my handwritten notes and travel info, too, so recreating that post will be impossible to do in that same fashion and also incredibly time consuming. I will get to it as soon as I can though. In the interim, here's the post from 8/26 instead.

Our Airbnb room in Ljubljana with a kitchen and bathroom shared with another traveler.

It was cosy, shall we say, as there were only chairs in the kitchen and no other space in the apartment to sit down and relax but the location was perfect.

Many of you know I spend hours and hours on the computer day in and day out for months on end planning as much of our itinerary as possible before leaving home. Our reasoning is that way, we don’t spend/waste time on the trip planning it, wondering where we will go next, how best to get there, what there is to see once there, etc. We know it doesn’t allow for a great amount of flexibility as we have pre-booked all the accommodation and as much of the transportation as we could. This system has worked well for us on each of our previous long trips and so far on this one too.

All that to say, we had decided at home not to do exactly what we were going to do today: a day trip to the Postonja Caves and Predjama Castle. After all, how exciting would it be to see yet another set of caves and another castle after having seen our fair share of both already in the past, we wondered? But we ended up figuring we were near one of the largest karst caves in the world and 37 million other tourists sure can’t be all wrong, right?! The Postonja Caves are visited by as many as a third of all tourists who come to Slovenia.

We bought our bus tickets for a mid morning departure from Ljubljana which happened to be the earliest time any buses left that also coincided with the connecting shuttle to the castle. That meant, though, we had enough time to walk back to the Ursuline Monastery and the adjoining Church of the Holy Trinity as it was only open a few hours a day. It had been closed when we went there after our walking tour of Ljubljana a few days previously.

In front of the church there was a Holy Trinity column that was erected in 1693 as a thanks offering for the city having been spared from the plague.
We were so glad to return as the Church and Monastery are considered to be the most beautiful and extraordinary examples of Baroque architecture in the city. The church’s huge main altar was designed by Francesco Robba. 
There were only four women inside and each was saying the Rosary out loud. 
Our bus arrived in Postonja and we had a twenty minute walk to the Caves. 
When we got there, we were so glad we had bought entrance tickets while back at the Ljubljana bus station which allowed us to skip to the front of the line. Only then did we realize that only meant we had another hour long wait before we could enter the caves so we just relaxed and read our kindles in the nearby park.

One we finally got inside the cave, we were whisked immediately onto a small open train that was waiting to take us a couple of kilometers further into the cave. It was unusual, from an American point of view, that there were absolutely no words of caution, either verbal or written, advising everyone to keep their arms inside at all times, etc, etc. The train hurtled only inches away from the sides of the cave in many spots so I was glad that everyone’s good sense prevailed!

There are 24 kms of caves at Postonja but visitors only see about one fifth of that. After alighting from the train, we began our mostly guided walk for the next couple of kms. 

The guide explained that, if we had been here millions of years ago, we would have been swimming here. There were three colors in the rocks: red, white from pure limestone and green from illum (sp?) that grow as the lights are turned on so often. 
The temperature was a constant ten degrees Celsius so, thank goodness, we had worn somewhat warmer clothes today. Unlike Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, there were no bats here because the caves at Postonja are too deep and too cold for them.

The aptly named Spaghetti Chamber:

The Russian Bridge as it was built by Russians (duh!):

Loved seeing the sparkles in these formations:

What an unusual roof in this part of the cave:
We were at 120 m below the surface here which was the deepest part of the tour.
There are over 100 different varieties of animals in the caves. In the biggest one, was a cave salamander who can go ten years without food! Reproduction occurs in January and the babies are only about an inch or so long when born.
This looked like the biggest vanilla ice cream cone ever!

 Camel shaped rock formation:
The caves’ Concert Hall which had, as you would imagine, just incredible acoustics: Our guide was encouraged to show us how good they were. I wish you could have heard him sing as he sounded like he could have been singing opera at the Met or La Scala rather than leading cave tours in tiny Postonja!
 Back on the choo-choo train to take us back to the caves' entrance:
We dawdled too long leaving the caves which meant we missed the connecting free shuttle to Predjama Castle located 9 kms away and, as a result, that meant we would also miss the bus we had planned to take back to Ljubljana. Oh well, back to our spot on the grass to read our kindles again for another hour!
The way the shuttles worked meant that we had less than an hour to tour the castle and its huge assortment of rooms, not nearly enough time in our minds to do it justice unfortunately. I like to stroll through museums, etc at a more leisurely pace than Steven anyways but even at a slower pace still when on these trips so I can take photos and write notes about what we’re seeing for the blog. I had to skip a few rooms in the castle because I just ran out of time. Boo hiss!
What a fantastic location overlooking the valley:
 Predjama Castle was built over a period of centuries beginning as far back as the twelfth. Each of the inhabitants over the centuries added something new. Predjama was cold, dark and a dreary, but safe, place to live in the Middle Ages. The latter was of course the most important factor.
The coat of arms of many families as each contributed to the history of the castle.
Erasmus of Predjama: The most important person who lived at the castle.
Arrow slits were also used for throwing stones and boiling oil on the enemies below.
During the Middle Ages, the lavatory was situated in the upper reaches of the Castle; gravity took care of the rest! Pieces of cloth or cabbage leaves were used as toilet paper. I don’t think I will ever think of cabbages in quite the same way again!

The Court Room: In the Middle Ages, the Lord of the castle had jurisdiction over his serfs.
The Torture Chamber: The dungeons and torture chamber were situated in a real cave at this castle. What feelings of horror and loneliness the prisoners must have endured by the cold and dark cave environment.
The rack, wooden horse and other instruments of torture were used to cause severe torment. (Sounds like another one of those duh moments!)
The entire castle is a mixture of natural rock wall and a constructed exterior one. The rock wall is continuously moist and covered by moss and algae that give it a special color. That guaranteed the castle's security by preventing an attack from the rear and at the same time provided drinking water through channels chisled into the cave walls behind the castle.

The mix of natural rock covered by moss and a manmade wall looked so perfect and almost seamless together here:
On the upper floors of the castle were large rooms where the family lived. The walls were a massive five feet thick so everyone was safe inside.

The dining room: 
The passage behind the door in the dining room  allowed access for the servants to the upper floors:
The kitchen was small but very functional. The fireplace, located under a natural tunnel, acted as a chimney. There was a sort of cooler in a 30 foot vertical shaft which probably also acted as a dumping ground. A stone sink with a simple drain was placed on the outer wall. 
The terrace had great views over the entire valley but needed no roof!  
The toilet that was placed right off the terrace proved to be the unsafest part of the whole castle as that was where Erasmus died. Large stone balls were fired by catapults and demolished the wall where Erasmus had been. A lime tree planted when he died inthe 15th century is still alive today!

The magnificent view from the castle terrace:
 The castle chapel:
The burial chamber: 
After our short but very sweet castle tour, we had to beetle back to the parking lot to make sure we didn't miss the shuttle back to the caves. Then we walked back to the bus station in sleepy Postonja and caught a bus back to Ljubljana. Our little Airbnb abode looked quite appealing after such a long day.


  1. So glad you decided to visit the caves, what great pictures!


  2. Predjama Castle looked lovely from the outside. Lil Red

  3. Amazing photos of a fascinating and historic underground world ! Lina

  4. Thanks! We really enjoyed the caves too and thought it was such a hoot being partially transported through them in the tiny train Disneyland style.


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