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Slovenia’s Karst Region and Škocjan Caves (1:56)

Slovenia

Slovenia’s Karst plateau sets upon a limestone foundation honeycombed with caves. The most dramatic is Škocjan, featuring endless formations, a breathtaking footbridge high above the echoing river, and a towering grand finale. Nearby, a photogenic castle — Predjama — is wedged into another Karst cave.

Complete Video Script

A short drive south takes us into a totally different landscape: Slovenia's Karst region — a high, fertile, and windblown plateau. In this land of stout hill towns and rugged farmers, grapes for the full-bodied local red wine thrive in the iron-rich soil.

Since the limestone upon which everything around here sits is easily dissolved by water, the Karst is honeycombed with a vast network of caves and underground rivers.

The most dramatic cave to tour is Škocjan. Visitors begin by seeing a multitude of formations in a series of large caverns. Guides tell the story as, drip by drip, stalactites grow from spaghetti-thin strands to mighty sequoia-like stone pillars.

In the grand cavern, the sound of a mighty river crashes through the mist. Chiseled into the wall, the scant remains of century-old trails evoke the early days of tourism here. It's a world where a thousand evil Wizard of Oz monkeys could comfortably fly in formation. Crossing a breathtaking footbridge 150 feet above the torrent gives you faith in Slovenian engineering. The cave finally widens, sunlight pours in, and visitors emerge — like lost creatures seeking daylight — into a lush canyon.

Nearby, wedged into another Karst-region cave, is Predjama — one of Europe's most photogenic castles. There's been a castle here for nearly a thousand years. The mouth of the cave provided a strategic place for some feudal lord to stick his fortified manor house. This version dates from the 16th century.

While there's little reason to go inside, the castle makes an ideal spot for a scenic drink — and a great capper for our visit to the Karst region.

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