Vilenica (slovenianJama Vilenica, germanFeenhöhle,italian Grotta di Corgnale) is
a karst show cave. It is considered to be the oldest show cave
in Europe, as the local landowner conferred the cave upon the
local parish which managed it as a resource and opened it up
to visitors in 1633.
Entrance to Vilenica
is down into the collapsed roof of the entrance hall. The cave
is well decorated with a series of nice speleothems and
is noted for large chambers. The first one, the
so-called Ballroom, is entered by steps. The second
chamber is another long stair down and back up on the other side. Middle
part of the cave is decorated with dripstones, followed
by the chamber with enormous curtains and red coloured
In the final chamber, the
path is cut out of massive flowstone. Visitor are
standing on a balcony, gazing into the huge stalagmites, the
largest of them having 10m / 33ft diameter in its
lower part, and being about 20m / 66ft high. The
biggest stalagmite here is 20m high and has a circumference of 10m at
length: 1300m / 4265ft (450m open for public access)
depth: 179m / 587ft
length: 900 m / 2953ft
duration: 1 hour
difference 90m / 295ft
temperature: 10 °C / 50 ºF
adequate for one hour inside the cave at 10 °C, rubber
sole (its slippery inside), headtorch is an useful asset.
cave has a long history. The first guided tour was recorded in
1633., In 18th century, cave was visited
by Baltazar Hacquet, pioneer karst geomorphologist remembered
as the first scientist to perform extensive exploration of the Julian
Alps (in 1777 he was the first to try to ascend to
the top of Triglav) and few years later of the
northwestern Dinaric Alps
about the same time, cave was visited by
Alberto Fortis, Italian priest, physician and
naturalist with a special interest in geology. His extensive
travels in Dalmatia and its karst between 1770 and 1774 resulted in the
books for which he is best known. His travelogs
from 1771 describe his visit to the Mramorica cave
near Brtonigla (Croatian Istria) in 1770, and a journey over
the karst from Pula to Rovinj in 1771.
visited Vilenica cave in 1777, with his companion,
mineralogist Frantisek Dembsher. They left their signature at
one of the stalagmites, which is still clearly visible.
cave remained the most visited cave of the classic karst through mid
19th century. When Postojna
cave was developed for mass visits, the popularity of
Vilenica sank and the cave visits almost stopped.
was revived again in mid 1960's.
Cave is located near the
Italian/Slovenian border, 10km West of Trieste, on
the road from Sezana to Lokev, 7km from Sezana.
car: Ljubljana-Postojna-Sezana-Trieste motorway, exit Divaca, drive
toward village of Lokev, another 1km from Lokev direction
Sezana, follow the (signposted) road for cave
forking due right. Parking lot not far from the cave
by air: Nearest internaional airport is Ronchi
dei Legionari, Trieste. Low cost airlines operate
mainly international flights from this airport. Only Ryanair
offers low cost flights to this airport.
can be reached by foot as well: follow any of the marked
hiking trails to Lokev, there's one from
Caves, another one from the Lipica
Stud farm, as
well as marked hiking trail from the Mt.
Kokos hut. Approximate walking distance: Vilenica cave
- Lipica - Škibini - Kokoš hut, about 2
Sunday and holidays.
April, 1st- October, 31st at
13pm and 5pm
November, 1st -
March, 31st only organized groups by prior