Skocjanske jame (Skocjan Caves)

- Slovenia -

© Borut Lozej

Velika dolina with the church of Škocjan, Photo by Borut Lozej, Škocjan Caves Park Archive
© Borut Lozej, Škocjan Caves Park Archive

Skocjanske jame was designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) under the Ramsar Convention on 21 May 1999.
More about the site

Škocjanske jame (Škocjan Caves) is a water cave system that lies in the Dinaric Karst and the Kras/Karst area which gave the name for the karst phenomena and characteristics all over the world.

Their main characteristics are underground water flow and the extremely high fluctuations of ground water level. The area holds typical karst phenomena and karst features developed at the contact between permeable (limestones) and impermeable rocks. The cave system provides habitat to numerous endemic and endangered animal species. In 1986, Škocjanske jame were designated a World Heritage Site due to their exceptional natural values. In 1999, the area of Škocjanske jame was included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance of the Ramsar Convention. They were the first Ramsar Site included in the List according to the criteria for identification of underground wetlands. In October 2004, the Regional Park Škocjanske jame became a member of the international Biosphere Reserve network of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme as the Karst Biosphere Reserve. At the national level, the area has been protected as a Regional Park Škocjanske jame since 1996.

  • Maintenance of hydrological regime (storage and delivery of water as part of water supply system for agriculture and industry)
  • Hazard reduction (flood control, flood storage)
  • Recreation and tourism (nature observation and nature-based tourism)
  • Spiritual and inspirational (cultural heritage – historical and archaeological)
  • Scientific and educational (important knowledge systems, important for research) (scientific reference area or site)
  • Scientific and educational (educational activities and opportunities)
  • Scientific and educational (long-term monitoring site)

In the Park’s area, there are 44 units designated as cultural heritage. They are mostly designated as monuments of national cultural importance. The Park encompasses three settlements: Škocjan, Betanja and Matavun. The most interesting one, architecturally and urbanistically, is the village of Škocjan, a nucleated village with the Church of St. Cantianius (Sl: sv. Kancijan). The caves were named after this typical ancient village marked by a church and its freestanding bell tower that once served as a strong hill fort. Throughout the Park, there are also several archaeological areas and sites (settlements, burial grounds, and cave archaeological sites) dating back to the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. In the Reka River gorge, there are ruins of numerous mills, and several ice pits and karst ponds for cattle are preserved in the Park and its vicinity.

Info-point, visitor center, environmental guides, toilets, washrooms, restaurant, etc.

Guided tours in the cave and in the protected area, cycling and walking paths, educational programmes

  • Conservation of Škocjan Caves and other underground environments;
  • Maintaining a favourable conservation status of valuable natural features, animal and plant species and habitat types;
  • Co-operation in the protection of cultural heritage;
  • Developing environmentally-friendly visits and raising awareness about the Park;
  • Strengthening the inclusion of the local population in the development of activities in the Park,
  • Strengthening the role of the Park’s managing authority in the area of influence and transitional area.
  • Conservation of Škocjan Caves and other underground environments.
  • Management of the tourism.

The Ramsar Site has a valid management plan for the period 2019-2023.

Latest updates of these informations: Mars 2021

Dry karst meadow in the Škocjan Caves Park, Photo by Borut Lozej, Škocjan Caves Park Archive
© Borut Lozej, Škocjan Caves Park Archive