Due to their exceptional significance, the Škocjan Caves were entered on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites in 1986. International scientific circles have thus acknowledged the importance of the Caves as one of the natural treasures of planet Earth.
Ranking among the most important caves in the world, the Škocjan Caves represent the most significant underground phenomena in both the Karst region and Slovenia.
From time immemorial, people have been attracted to the gorge where the Reka River disappears underground as well as the mysterious cave entrances. The Reka River sinks under a rocky wall; on the top of it lies the village of Škocjan after which the Caves are named.
Archaeological research has shown that people lived in the caves and the surrounding area in prehistoric times – from the Mesolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze and Iron Ages through Antiquity and the Middle Ages to the present; altogether for more than 5,000 years. The finds from this area testify that the Škocjan Caves had not only local but regional importance in prehistoric times. Pioneering research of Karst and karst phenomena began in this area in the 19th century. The international karstological terms “karst” and “doline” originate here.
Collapse dolines and their surroundings are home to rare and endangered birds and several bat species. Due to particular geo-morphological and microclimatic conditions, an extraordinary ecosystem has developed here in which the Mediterranean, Sub-Mediterranean, Central European, Illyrian and Alpine bio-geographical elements co-exist. Rare cave fauna are preserved in the underground system of the Reka River.