Karst – Kras
Karst is a landscape/plateau in Slovenia, located between the Gulf of Trieste in the south, the Vipava valley in the north, the Soča valley in the west and Brkini in the east. If karst is written with a lowercase initial, it means a type of stony (kar-kamen) landscape characterized by karst phenomena (caves, sinkholes, bays, karst fields, …), which was already described by Valvasor in the 17th century. When visiting the Karst we can enjoy natural beauty, the rugged landscape, stone houses and cuisine (prosciutto and Teran wine – Refošk on the red soil).
Table of Contents
This post is a description of interesting points to visit in a one-day trip. After the morning start from Ljubljana, we are in Divača in less than an hour’s drive. From there we are in the Škocjan Caves in a few minutes. Geographically, this 300-hectare park belongs to Brkini, but it is the most beautiful representative of karst phenomena in Slovenia and as such is registered in UNESCO. Here we can admire an underground canyon (2 km long, up to 200 m high and 150 m wide)), waterfalls, valleys, a natural bridge, halls carved out of the limestone by the River Reka. You can see Veliko and Malo dolina from outside for free, which are separated by a natural bridge above which is the village of Škocjan, and below is the Reka river. Or you can go into the cave with a ticket for €24 and see Martel’s hall – 2.2 million m3, Organs hall, Pans hall, Giant stalagmite, Silent, Murmoring, Tominč, Mahorič and Marinič caves… The guided tour lasts about 2.5 hours and it is necessary to do about 1000 steps. Tours start between 10am and 4pm every full hour.
The village of Lokev is 8 km away. It is known for the first prosciutto production in Slovenia in 1679. Here, during the week, you can buy this delicacy dried on the karst burja wind and other cured meat products. In the village there is also the Tabor Venetian tower, which houses the military museum. The Vilenica cave is also in the immediate vicinity.
Lipica is only about 5 km away. This is a stud farm where Lipizzaner horses have been bred (today there are around 300 of them) since 1580 on 300 ha. Stallions are in individual stalls, and mares with foals are in free range. In addition to breeding, there is also a classical school of dressage riding. You can freely walk along the 100-year-old avenues surrounded by green pastures surrounded by white fences or with a ticket for €18 you can see the stables or for €25 you can also watch a show with Lipizzaner horses on Sunday at 3pm or for €22 a training session at 11am. In addition to horses, there are additional facilities such as the Lipikum Museum and the Carriage Museum, the August Černigoj Gallery, a golf course, and the Gratia restaurant.
Teran country (Dutovlje, Tomaj, Križ, Šepulje)
Now it’s time to venture into the interior of the Karst, where the teran is at home. The core is represented by villages Dutovlje, Tomaj, Šepulje, Križ, in reverse order from the direction of Lipica (15 minutes drive). Teran is a red wine from the Refoška vine, which grows on the red soil (terra rosa) and next to the bora from the Karst. The wine is dark red in color, stronger acid, alcohol about 10% and goes well with meat dishes and, of course, prosciutto. Not only for the wine, in these villages it is worth stopping and walking among the stone houses, which give a special feeling. Maybe Tomaj stands out the most, where a wonderful view opens up from the top of the hill with the church. Of course, you are probably hungry by now and stop at one of the tourist farms for a meal. Maybe you’ll be there during the osmica season, the period when farms can sell their products tax-free.
As a final point, I would suggest another Karst pearl, Štanjel. This hilltop village surrounded by medieval walls has a special charm. When we climb the bank, we can admire the Renaissance castle Štanjel, the Gothic church of St. Danijel, karst stone houses, huddled together along narrow streets and squares with wells. there are Roman remains at the top, from where a wonderful view spreads out. The surplus would be Feerari’s house with a tower and a garden, which is made according to the plans of the architect and urban planner Maks Fabijani.
You are probably already tired at this point and would like to head home. You have the option of a more adventurous ride to Vipava and further towards Lkubljana, or for an easier route back across the karst to Divača and on the highway to Ljubljana.
If you still have some energy left in you, you can go to the extreme west of the Karst, through the village of Komen, to Cerje, where there is a Monument to the Defenders of Slovenian Land in Cerje. From here, at the edge of the karst plateau, there is a view of the northern Adriatic and the Vipava Valley. From here you can return via Nova Gorica in an hour and a half.
The most famous points on the Karst have been mentioned previously. But that doesn’t mean you don’t stop in other places and explore a little, e.g. in the osmica on Grah hill, next to the church and the tower in Dolenja vas near Divača or for a glass of teran in Pliskovica. Wherever you wander, you will be able to enjoy nature, architecture and cuisin