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Subterranean Spectacular

1 minute read

Visitors usually liken the Postojna caves in southwestern Slovenia to the interior of a cathedral — cavernous, soaring, sublime. The caves, first opened to the public in 1819, are a 23-km warren of underground galleries, chambers and tunnels, all adorned with stalactites and stalagmites formed over the past 2 million years. In the 1820s, one of the largest chambers was the venue for grand balls, complete with candlelight and festive decorations. In those days visitors rode into the caves in horse-drawn carriages.

With the installation of electric lighting a century ago, the largest and arguably most beautiful chamber became a 10,000-seat concert hall, attracting some of the world’s most famous performers, including legendary Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. Today, small electric trains carry visitors on a 5-km ride to Postojna’s heart; from there the journey is on foot, through what British sculptor Henry Moore described as “nature’s most wonderful gallery.” Watch out for proteus anguinus, the “human fish,” a colorless, eyeless newtlike creature with legs and gills that’s unique to Postojna. A tour of the caves costs $15.

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