Križna Cave – Undiscovered Beauty

In the Slovenian Karst underworld, the action of water on the soluble limestone bedrock has created some of the most interesting so-called karst phenomena – caves. There are the famous ones like the Postojna Cave and the Škocjan Caves; but Križna Cave is among most attractive because it contains some fifty lakes of a particular shade of green, from which stalactites appear to be emerging.

The cave was named after the hill standing above it, Križna gora (‘Mount of the Cross’), which in turn took its name from the tiny church of the Holy Cross built on top of it in the Middle Ages.

Križna Cave - among most attractive caves in Slovenia

The watery Križna jama. Photo: www.krizna-jama.si

The cave system of Križna Cave is approximately 10km long, but the actual total length, as well as the layout of all parts of the system has yet to be determined. And although people have been exploring the cave without any organised approach for many years, it was only in the second half of the 20th century that the Slovenian Speleological Society drew up a more precise map, and also discovered new sections of the cave system.

Lovers of beautiful underground landscapes consider Križna Cave a real beauty. Its special feature is lakes separated by calcareous sinter barriers where crystal clear water flows. The water comes from the Bloke Plateau, and disappears into several sinkholes within the cave system before resurfacing on the rim of the Cerknica Field as the source of the Šteberščica stream.

Križna Cave is the longest cave with lakes in the world. Experts find it is particularly amazing that a cave of a length of 10km only has one entrance, the creation of which is attributed to the collapse of a part of the cave’s ceiling at a certain point in geological history.

One of World’s Most Important Caves for the Diversity of Animal Life

However, Križna Cave is not famous only for its lakes. In the 19th century, a large quantity of cave bear bones was found and brought from the cave. The bones can also be seen upon visiting the Cave.

Križna Cave is the fourth largest cave ecosystem in the world when it comes to the variety of animal life. In spite of less than favourable living conditions (darkness, 100 per cent humidity, air and water temperatures of 8°C) it is home to as many as forty-four species of animals, which are mainly very small in size and virtually invisible to the naked eye: crustaceans, insects, earthworms, spiders, amphipods, small snakes, etc. In comparison, most caves have an average of three to four animal species. Visitors might also encounter many small bats with a wingspan of less than 10cm.

The Most Spectacular Sights Are Deep in the Cave

Cave "pearls" in Križna jama. Photo: www.krizna-jama.si

Explorers only made it past the calcareous sinter barriers of the First Lake in 1926, thereby discovering the most beautiful section of Križna Cave, which, due to its many deep sinks filled with water, is only accessible by boat.

One of the most photographed parts of the cave is a group of stalagmites, stalactites and columns named Calvary. Here, the Cave is divided into two parts. In the more frequented Multicoloured Tunnel, accessible only by boat, lies the so-called Matthias’s Tunnel, characterised by the mighty King Matthias’s Columns, which is also where the water flows into the Cave. Also in this section is the largest hall– the so-called Crystal Mountain, with a multitude of tall and slender stalagmites, where the cave actually ends.

In the magnificent underground halls, amidst constantly growing cave formations, one cannot miss the lakes, which are up to 6m deep. Even though at first glance, it may seem that the stalagmites are actually growing from the water, this is of course impossible; the stalagmites were already there when water filled their surroundings. But it is still a wonderful and unique sight to gaze at the stalagmites rising from the lake surface.

Despite Apparent Beauty, There Are not Many Visitors

The basic caretaking tasks of the cave are performed by the Friends of Križna Cave association, founded in 1997 by local people from the villages around Bloška Polica, Bločice and Loška Valley.

“Actually, every visit is harmful; therefore we would really like to see our cave, as is the case for the Škocjan Caves, become part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. This would help preserve the entire ecosystem, which is the second largest cave ecosystem in Slovenia, preceded only by the Postojna Cave,” says Matej Kržič, President of the Friends of Križna Cave association.

The beautiful sights of the underworld, such as vast halls, green crystal clear lakes, stalagmites and stalactites of various colours and extraordinary shapes, crystal glitter and the deep silence are bound to leave a lasting impression on every visitor. The Križna Cave is a testament to nature's beauties, which have been moulded over millennia, yet all too often overlooked by man. 

Care for a visit? More information: http://www.krizna-jama.si/ 

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