Good Old Times: History of Postojna Cave

Darja | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Postojna Cave, the most famous and visited cave in Slovenia, was formed approximately three million years ago, its formation starting in 70-million-year-old limestones. Apparently, the cave is rather old, especially if we compare it to the age of the dripstones. Let’s hear some of its history.

The oldest dated stalagmite located along Postojna Cave's tour route is called the Skyscraper. It is 16 m high and 150,000 years old, as it has been estimated. It is the oldest dripstone that you can see when taking a tour through this magnificent cave, but there are many others, hiding somewhere else inside the cave, some of them dating back more than half a million years.

The first signatures show, that people have been visiting the cave in 13th century already. Many visitors from that time wrote their names onto the cave walls and wall formations, the majority of signatures dating in 16th and 17th century. Ever since, the most prominent guests have visited Postojna Cave. The first official visitor was an Austrian heir to the throne, Ferdinand I. He was also the first to sign the famous Golden Book of Visitors, where names of all the eminent visitors are collected.

To light up this fascinating world below the ground, cave guides were carrying oil lamps and cave lamplighters illuminated the path by putting candles on the walls. The scope of the lightning was determined by the price visitors were willing to pay for the tour. Later on, in 1884 electric lights were installed, a few years prior to many European capitals.

A railway system in Postojna Cave dates more than 140 years back and was the first documented railway in an underground cave. During the time, the locomotives were upgraded to electrical ones, more and more people were able to visit the cave and in the end the double-tracks were built, which makes Postojna Cave railway unique.

Nowadays, the train makes a short stopover at the oldest underground post office. For more than 100 years it has been possible to send a good old-fashioned written per hand postcard from under the ground, featuring cave postmark. Quite a souvenir, isn’t it?

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