Slavnik and the Karst Edge area
What's New On This Page?> April 13th, 2017 - Risnik chapter added.
> June 12th, 2016 - Geology chapter added.
> February 8th, 2013 - SP V3 design updated.
> February 7th, 2005 - Initial setup of the page.
Presenting the AreaThe Istra penninsula is seperated from the European continent by a hilly barrier which features a very different nature of landscapes on both sides. The true Mediteranian landscape begins when you cross the Karst edge.
There are two reasons to mention these mountains: (1) they are a paradise for hiking, especially in 'out of season' times, (2) their short walls make one of the finest polygons for technical climbing. While it is unlikely that in the future each hiking summit would get its own page, it would be very desirable if each technical climbing resort would get its own page. Here, I'm giving just the overview of the Italian and Slovenian part of Karst edge and of Slavnik hills above it. The Croatian part is much unknown to me (but see also the Učka page and the Čičarija page).
The southern part of Istria is geologically a part of Adria-Apulia tectonic unit. It is pushing towards the north-east (black arrow) and rotating in the counter clockwise direction. This process is resulting in a colision with the External Dinaric mountain belt (grey and striped). This process can be clearly observed in: (1) The mountain chains of Dinarides are very much bent. Učka mountain chain, for example is running today in the north-south direction, instead of the typical Dinaric northwest-southeast. (2) The other effect of thrusting Istria wedge towards the NE are many thrust faults on the border. The major one is the Kvarner thrust fault, separating big Adriatic islands from Istria. But along the line Trieste-Rijeka, in the zone, where Istria is underthrusting below Dinarides, there are several roughly parallel faults, where a few 10 meters high walls can be observed. Some of those on the NW part are shown on the images left. The major thrust fault is the so-called Palmanova fault (PN) - resulting in Kraški rob (Karst Edge) in the area of Istria. SW of it also the Buzet and Sočerga faults are significant. The north-eastern mountain chains of Istria - like Slavnik and others further to the SE, are already the anticlinorium, geologically belonging to Dinarides. It is also worth of mentioning that both, Istria and Dinarides, are carbonate (limestone) platforms, but on the Istrian one there are thick layers of flysh. The border can be clearly observed at subduction areas.
GeographyThe Karst edge begins at the north-west with the Cliffs of Devin. This is the only place, where the white limestone walls are rising directly out of the Adriatic sea. Further to the east the cliffs of the Karst edge are indented a few hundreds meters towards the inlands, allowing traffic to run by the coast.
Just above the big city of Trieste/Trst a special natural phenomenon is hiding - Val Rosandra / Glinscica is a beautiful valley with some low rock formations, useful for training technical climbing. There is, where Emilio Comici was training.
Close to Socerb castle the Karst edge continues on the Slovenian territory. Not far away from the border, above the small village of Osp, there are two famous walls, where technical climbs of the highest quality can be experienced - Osp wall and Mišja peč.
Further towards the southeast, beyond the big, elegant bridge of the main Slovenian highway, the Karst edge continues with the walls above Črni kal village. The hardest technical climbs can be done around the ruins of the ancient Venetian castle and more towards the southeast.
Going further south-eastwards the Karst edge falls down to Rižana valley in two bigger steps. Above the steep walls are rising over the Podpeč village and below there's a similar wall called Štrekljevica. Over both walls runs a secured, marked path. Štrekljevica would also be appropriate for hard technical climbing, but it is prohibited, because there are still a few rare birds nesting.
Still further down the Karst edge is less and less appropriate for technical climbing, but it remains a nice hiking area. As I shall describe only its Italian and Slovenian part on this page, let me stop here.
Above the Karst edge rocky steps there's another landscape. A completely flat grassy plateau is stretching towards the hills of Slavnik and its surroundings. Here you can find a few remote villages, but further towards the southeast the landscape rises again and amongst the hills there you can find some remote places where the only Slovenian savannah stretches. In spring, there some first class hiking goals could be enjoyed in the abundance of flora.
Below the rocky steps of Karst edge lie the fields and villages of the inner Istria. Limestone is being replaced with flysh, only a few limestone rocky outposts can be found in various locations. Some of them will be shortly described here.
- Trieste/Trst has an international airport. The city can also be reached by the highway from Venezia and Udine. Now the Italian and Slovenian coast are connected with ordinary routes, a highway is still only in plans. On the Slovenian coast Portorož has also an airport for sport planes.
- From Ljubljana towards the Slovenian coast and Trieste/Trst there's also a nice, fast highway.
- From the Croatian part of Istria there's still no highway connection, although the town of Buzet can be fastly reached by good roads and also the road to Slovenia is fairly good.
- Small villages below Slavnik and the Karst edge can be reached by occasionally narrow macadam roads.
- From the central Slovenia there's also a good railroad connection to the coast.
Red TapeThere are no limitations for hiking around, but some walls (like the mentioned Štrekljevica) are closed for climbing. Also the area below Slavnik is included in the Natura 2000 - the EU project for protecting certain areas of nature. This was also one of reasons that in spite of often strong winds (burja) the idea of setting up here windmills powerplant was abandoned. Luckilly!
When To ClimbAny time of the season.
Huts and CampingOn Slovenian coast there are many possibilities for camping.
The only mountain hut in the area is standing on the very summit of Slavnik. It is called Tumova koča, it has 8+20 beds and is accessible by car.
The Cliffs of DevinThese white limestone cliffs are rising directly out of the Adriatic see. I have no information of technical climbs in these cliffs, highlights of this region are the following:
High on a vertical rock the old castle is standing. The area is closed for visits, but the romantic ruine is very worth climbing over the gate (or fence).
Close to the old castle the new one is standing - also high on the cliffs.
Over the whole are of cliffs the Rilke marked path goes. It is very panoramic and frequented, to return back, you can also take a bike with you.
The Cliffs Above Trieste/TrstFrom Opicine/Opčine towards Monfalcone a nice panoramic path/road goes. It can be done by bike. Above and below it there are many appropriate cliffs where technical climbs are done.
The cave was supposedly created by Reka (river) which today flows nearby, but deeper underground. Then due to erosion its ceiling collapsed and today we can admire a big sinkhole with the average diameter of 220 meters and average depth of 72 meters. Vertical walls are all around the cave, only on one place you can descend into it by a gravel.
In the walls 35 one-pitch climbing routes are arranged. Their difficulty varies from 4b to 8a. Here is the link to a useful web page.
Val Rosandra / Glinscica
Search for the climbing web page here.
Osp and Misja Pec
Above Osp village there's a high wall, which is the most famous polygon fot technical rock climbing on Slovenian coast. Actually this (and Mišja peČ as well) is a huge ex cave, which collapsed many years ago.
Search for the web page here.
Mišja peČ is similar, lying a bit more towards east and above the valley. It is especially popular in recent times and also offers very hard climbs.
Search for the web page here.
And one more landmark for ordinary tourists: above on the karst plateau there's an entry into a nice Vilenica cave. It is finely decorated and known also by the annual international meeting of poets.
Search for the web page here.
More towards the west there's another interesting point of visit - the Socerb castle, nowadays a reastaurant, which offers an excellent view on Trieste/Trst and the surroundings.
Strekljevica and PodpecA nice bike&hike proposal would be: Leve your bikes somewhere above Črni kal. Drive with car down to Hrastovlje village (see the church) and leave it there. Hike by the marked path to Zanigrad village and up to the wall of Strekljevica. It is crossed by a nice ledge, above which you can explore also ruines of an interesting refugium. After crossing the road and Podpeč village climb over the wall above it. You can also visit the Venetian tower. Then follow the upper edge of walls all the way to above Črni kal. Bike down by the main road to Hrastovlje.
Raven Kras and The Ears of IstraThe name means: 'The Flat Karst'. It lies one step below the Karst edge and offers some nice hiking or biking over a remote area. Once we were four, two pairs, biking over a cart-road towards Movraška stena (wall). Both men were trailing and suddenly decided to continue biking naked. Seeing us catching-up the two ladies were so surprised that in their shaking hands no camera worked any more.
Raven Kras iz lying on a step above, north of Movraž valley. On the other side of the valley there's a smooth hill, hiding some more interesting things. If we start the tour on the bottom part of the valley and go around the hill, we first reach a nice stone window and then huge overhanging cliffs, called The Earth of Istria. They were created in distant past by a flowing water, something, which is hard to imagine today. Over these overhangs some technical climbs also go. The path proceeds below them, reaches the abandoned eagles nest and climbs over the cliffs. Nearby is worth visiting also an interesting cave. On the hill a cute church of St. Kvirik stands. Once we were spending a night there in a tent. Early in the morning we started walking along a collapsed wall, the only visible remains of an ancient town. We were surprised how long the walls were. It must have been a big town, which is today still undiscovered.