Large basement of a small country – Shkotan caves

We stood on a bridge overgrown through the abyss. Stone stones stretched over our heads; Below, in a deep gorge, deafly noishes and evil blushing the river. Behind the backs left underground halls with bizarre sculptures; Ahead – went out, it seemed to go anywhere – a black abyss. And suddenly rare lanterns went out, which illuminated the dungeon. I instinctively clung to metal railing bridge, wet and cold. I remembered that there are people around me, but they were silent, even human breathing was not heard, as if there was no one – only dense black.

These moments on the bridge in the Shkotan caves were remembered forever.

Travel in Slovenia and not descend into the cave means not to feel all the originality of her nature. On a small block of land – Slovenia Square just over 20,000 square meters. kilometers, about half, too, a little Switzerland, the Alps ridges, Panneon lowland, the flat coast of the Adriatic, limestone plateau, came together. And all this in the center of densely populated Europe, a few hours drive from Ljubljana – the capital of Slovenia. Slovenians, proud of their land, argue that they can go on skiing and swim in the Adriatic Sea in the same day.

Plateau Karst, Northern Painting of the Dinar Highlands, lies on the southwespad of the country. In time immemorial, these lands were the bottom of the sea. Subsequently, the sea retreated, but a thick layer of limestone precipitation remained. And the work of Karst began.

After all, karst, as is known, occurs in rocks, easily blurred by natural waters. What, in particular, are limestone. Two million years ago here, in the words of scientists, the first karst phenomenon was formed.

Now karst caves, cavities, ridges and t. NS. You can meet in many places Slovenia: almost half of its territory is composed of rocks exposed.

Foloding on the roads of Slovenia, I often noticed white, like nude, sides of the mountains, and deep abdinals, crucified, and gray-green valleys with stone ridges. In the village of OSP, such a picture was remembered: bleached houses, seized with flowers, and spire of the bell tower against the background of a steep carcass ridge of meters high in a hundred.

More than 6700 caves are registered in Slovenia, three of which are deeper than 1000 meters. The oldest of the open to visit (payment for it was charged already in the XVII century) is considered a valet cave not far from the town of Divacha. The other is the longest, about 23 kilometers (according to other data about 20), and the most visited – post-Moscow cave, or, Slovenian, post-Moscow. It enters the Karst region associated with the Ljublynitsa River. This river (on it, by the way, stands the capital of Slovenia) in very long-standing times flowed, as usual, on the surface, and then under the action of karst, it was broken into several sections, but all its channels merge deep underground into a single stream.

I struck me and the valley of crayfish shkocan. Its length is only 2.5 kilometers, but among pine-beaded forests are hidden in the caves, natural bridges, sources, waterways.

And what is the lake of Cherknitsa? Half a year in it catching fish, on ice they skate, then the lake goes under the ground, and the remaining six months at the bottom of his grass. Three hundred years ago studied the famous Natureman Baron Yanez Waikhard Valvazor, and, it seems, it was here in Slovenia, who did their first steps in Slovenia – Karstov.

Schkocanse caves are located on the territory of the classic, by definition of specialists, asset. By the way, the term itself "karst" Comes from the German mentioned above, the name – the plateau of Karst, or the Kras, as they say in Slovenia.

In Skozoan caves, we hit the long concrete tunnel. He was packed back in 1933, making one of the closest to the village of Shkotan Caves available to visitors. Opened it at the very beginning of the century and called quiet: here the ns is heard of the noise of the river flowing through the branched nest of the Shkotan caves.

. In the cool, barely highlighted rare dark lamps of the darkness distinguish the sharp faces of the alkallation, torn lines of the walls and the ceiling. Almost not visible stalactitis and stalagmites – the first decoration of the caves. Severeness, the primacy blows from these halls, which immediately makes believing in unusual: you are deep underground.

Urcan Chekhovin, our accreditary, confidently leads us from the hall to the hall, in some places, suspending to give explanations, it seems, in all languages ​​of the world: in Slovenian, English, German and Italian. The group gathered a small, but multilingual.

I find out that stalactites and stalagmites died during a strong earthquake, which occurred 12 thousand years ago. And they grow, as is known, very, very slowly (millimeter for ten or more years), so it will be necessary, probably not one millennium, so that the ceiling of these halls is around, say, thin shiny "spaghetti", as in the post-service cave. In addition, the river worked. But about this further.

We enter the spacious hall, the arches of which seems to support the gigantic figure of a person created by nature. Many legends goes from Slovenians about this miracle bogatyr. On the bright ceiling of the hall distinctly distinguish the silhouettes of the bear and other animals. What? Here the weight depends on the imagination of the look.

Imagination does not sleep and in the following halls: here is an organ from stalagmites, here is the mouth of sharks, a medieval castle. In one of the niche notice black holmik. URRYA gives a very simple explanation: it is littering bats. They are winter here. After all, the temperature in the cave plus 13 degrees. Constantly.

It seemed to me that behind these halls a deaf black wall, the end of the cave. But the throne dishes darkness, and we go down to the bridge. And hearing the noise of the river.

River named river

Eyes gradually bother with a stingy light, flowing from different points, and begin to distinguish steep rocky shores of the canyon and shine water deep down. The noise of the river – it is so called "River", With a capital letter, looks deaf, angry grumbling.

– Cave called "Shumychka Yama", – There is a voice of Urshi. There is where to roast the water.

Even before entering into the bridge, the urcharus turned our attention to the plate that celebrated the river level in 1965. I could not believe: really could rise as high as the waves of the river, filling out almost all the giant canyon space?! They were at one time and washed away by many stalactites and stalagmites of a quiet cave.

On one of the walls of the canyon, I see how the thin planks are molded to the rock. These are the remains of the former trail, which was also destroyed by the rising water.

Bridge, like the narrowest part of the canyon, wears the name of Anton Hank, one of the famous speleologists of the recent past. Involuntarily think of those who came to these caves first and paved the way to others. No, not about the ancient people who found the shelter in the input corridors of the caves and whose bone and stone tools were discovered by archaeologists. And about those who are not knowing that the depths of the Skopansky caves make themselves, they began studying. There was no guide chain of lights, no paths, nor the bridge (it was built by 1933). There was one unknown hiding under the earth.

Large basement of a small country - Shkotan caves

At the very end of the XVI century, the priest of Ferranthe Imperath conducted an experiment: put a lot of items on the river, trying to trace her way. These were the first studies of underground flows.

But the systematic study of the Shkotan caves began in 1839. Then Jacob Svetina from Trieste descended 300 meters along the underground canyon. Over the years, his trail continued experienced spelestologists from Vienna, Idriya, Ljubljana, Salzburg. Researchers were accompanied by conductors from the local, who knew all the moves – the exits: the most famous guide was Yozhev Churcher from Shkocan. To the end of the cave, speleological researchers got only in 1893, although they opened new moves and halls (as, for example, a quiet pit).

So, gradually, step by step, the map of the Shkocansky caves and the underground river were born. The rivers is unusual, perhaps one of the most extended underground rivers of the world.

. She runs from the south of the country, runs on the surface to the north-west, but, having come to the town of Shkotan, disappears in the sheer rocks. And under the ground, in pliable limestone, the river rushes through the tunnels, according to spacious caves with deep lakes (some "Jama" In the area of ​​a small and large valleys under Schco Skotan, daylight is open), cuts the grotto, decorating them with waterfalls. Then the river dives even more deeply under the ground, falling down with the noise, passes under the Statercar arch, forms several cutting cascades (here we are on the bridge). And then there are even less affordable person (but not the river!) Corridors ending with the car. Tired of a long and challenging path, the river rests in the Dead Lake, then, in 40 kilometers, to emerge from under the ground in Italy, near Trieste.

Can such a natural phenomenon leave indifferent karstovydov? The study of the Shkotan caves and the river continues: In Slovenia, there is an institution of research of CARST. Naturally, the study of aster has a purely practical goal. Knowing his cunning, often unpredictable character needs to builders, and road builders, and hydraulic techniques, and people of many other specialties.

. Last view of the canyon on a chain of fires, pushing to the walls rising to the bridge and running around in darkness. Really we passed this way under the ground.

After the dark dungeons, the paint of the solar autumn day seems especially bright. The trail is cool leaves up, rich gray mighty stones, the blue sky is reflected in the rapid waters of the river, briefly appeared at the sun. Yellow-green crowns of trees surround the elevator platform on which we return to the usual world.

Now you can stay and ask Urochka a question that has long been asking for a language:

– It is known that in 1986, UNESCO announced Shkotan caves by a monument of world natural and cultural heritage, I say. – But why exactly them? After all, in Slovenia so many different caves, not to mention Popinic, world famous.

– Shkotan caves are unique in their naturalness and mighty underground river, – answers, without thinking, urchar. – In addition, their scale is impressive: length – twelve and a half kilometers, height is up to one hundred thirty meters.

– Whether it is not hijacking that in the post of station, the crowd of tourists, and not everyone even in Slovenia know about Skopansky caves?

– We do not need fame. It is important for us to preserve their primacy, having limited the flow of people and without conducting special improvements, as in the same Potoinsky, where the train is lucky crowds of tourists right to depth.

When words "Save prostity" I remembered the conversation in Ljubljana, in the National Department of Nature Protection. Employees tell him that there were chemical production near Shkotna, and in this regard, UNESCO even wanted to abandon the introduction of Shkotan’s feces to the list of world natural and cultural heritage. The company closed (of course, not only for this reason). Now a new attack: an entrepreneur appeared who wants to pave the track for auto racing in the Carst Plateau area. We said the employees of the department, struggling to be anticipating this project, but will not be the money stronger? However, this problem is characteristic of all Slovenia, and therefore environmental organizations are trying to declare protected as many territories. And first of all – the plateau Cars.

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