Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Castle and a Cave Walk in Koper, Slovenia

We continued up the Adriatic Sea towards our next port of Koper, Slovenia.

We're not too far from Venice now!

Koper can trace its name back to the Roman town of Caprea. In 1278, the town voluntarily joined Venice and was later renamed Capo d'Istria, hence the Italian name. However, much of Koper's Italian inhabitants fled after WWII when the town was assigned to the Free Territory of Trieste, administered by and later incorporated into Yugoslavia. The Communists built an unattractive sprawl of factories and warehouses to the south, but thankfully left the old town almost entirely untouched.

We had a private tour planned today to visit Predjama Castle and also the Postojna Cave. Our guide, Anand, met us at the port and we were off on our 50 minute drive to the castle. We whizzed by this huge shopping centre.

And then into the beautiful countryside…

The tulips were blooming. It was their spring as well, and with some rain that they had in the previous days, Anand said everything was blossoming.

Off towards the castle…

These looked like fields of dandelions, but I wasn’t sure…

So pretty and peaceful…Anand said he lives in a village of 9000 people. 

We arrived at the castle and headed for the ticket office...

And we got our first glimpse of the castle. Isn’t this incredible? It is built right into the mountain. Predjama Castle dates back to the 13th century and is one of the few “castle caves” remaining. It was built into a 123 m high cavern below the overhanging cliff and above a stream. It was not built for comfort or for luxury, but for security. With only one way to approach the castle, access was difficult. Its most famous inhabitant was Erazen who held off the Austrian army for 366 days until he was killed by one of his servants. It has been privately owned since the 16th century and is currently managed by the government. 


Jim was waiting while Anand bought the tickets…

Here is the view from the castle. Wouldn’t you love to wake up to this each day?

Inside, the castle was pretty sparse. The antler room?

This was the most comfortable room where people spent most of their time. Love the baby walker!

Like every good castle, it had a dungeon.

And a chapel…

This walkway led into the caves behind the castle that were used as a secret access.

Neat view from the caves…

Hmmm…it really wasn't built for comfort!

We wished we had more time to spend there, but we had to get to the caves by 2:00 so we were off and running. The Postojna Cave is Slovenia’s largest cavern, home to multicolored stalactites and stalagmites.

The line ups were crazy! It was a holiday weekend and Anand told us that because of its proximity to Italy, a lot of Italians would come here to visit. Most Slovenians speak Italian in addition to their own language. Barb and Ed and Jim were waiting in line. It was surprisingly warm, but we had been warned the caves were chilly, so we had jackets in hand.

A train takes you through the cave and we were happy that we wouldn’t have to walk. After our walk up and down the city walls in Dubrovnik, our legs were still aching.

Wheee! The train went quite fast!

This cavern was huge!

It was so beautiful…of course, every formation was different.

What? What do you mean get off the train??? The crowd was ridiculous. We were supposed to be following a tour guide, and there was one for each of the many different languages, but for some reason everyone seemed to join the English tour. We couldn’t hear a thing she was saying.

So we walked uphill and more uphill…

And saw many beautiful formations…

There were narrow passageways…

And, of course, I couldn't do justice to the beauty...and the length of our walk!

We walked for at least 60 minutes and there was no other way out. You had to walk. The group was not too impressed about now. Another fine mess!

On and on and on…Barb was forging ahead.

There was no doubt…it was spectacular!

Yay, the tourist shop! We must be finished!

Nope, just a stop to make you think you’re finished!

At last we got back on the train for our ride to the exit. It was absolutely beautiful, but we were sadly mistaken in what we thought we were doing that day. We popped out into the sunshine at last!

The area around the caves is very pretty…

They had some serious flooding the previous fall which was very unusual. The label on the step indicates the level of the flood water.

Here we are zooming back to the ship. Anand was a peppy driver!

Our sailaway…we didn’t have a chance to visit the town itself. The tour of the town can only be done on foot and we had read it was physically challenging. Good thing we didn't do that!!

A lovely sunset as we ended our cruise.

Tomorrow we'll be in Venice...

1 comment:

kalaiarasi p said...

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