The state-run Postojna caves attraction this week reached an impressive thirty six million visitors, a landmark seen as an ideal opportunity to unveil €3 million worth of improvements to the globally-renowned subterranean world situated in Slovenia’s southwest.

Famous for the “human fish” found throughout the Karst region of southeastern Europe, the Olm holds a rare distinction of being better known by its Latin moniker, Proteus anguinus. Postojna’s network of caves are seen by many tour-companies as an obligatory stop-off on the itineraries of foreign guests, the nearby Sezana-based Lipica stud farm famed for its breeding of Lippizaner horses holding a similar distinction. Slovenians themselves though have often told me of their preference for Skocjan caves, a less touristy attraction that has for nearly thirty years been included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Nevertheless, thirty six million visitors cannot be wrong and whilst a particularly busy period can feel exceptionally claustrophobic in already confined surroundings, Batagelj, the operating company recently granted a five year extension to run Postojna will justifiable feel confident of the recent improvements enhancing the visitor experience, like for like data already seeing a 30% increase in footfall compared to the same period for 2014. The extension should also signal continued ongoing investment from the state, allowing guests to not only enjoy the caves but also the quirkiness of nearby Predjama castle, a unique edifice improbably constructed into a cliff face.

Having lain disused for several years the adjacent – disturbingly but predictably named – Hotel Jama(cave) is slated to reopen its doors in time for the 2016 Easter period, hoping to cash in on the feel good factor engendered by Postojna’s enduring acclaim. It is pleasing to note one of Slovenia’s primary attractions bucking the nationwide trend of financial hardship and dwindling popularity; equally gratifying during this era of denationalisation is Postojna successfully avoiding becoming one of the ‘gang of fifteen’ state-owned enterprises earmarked for privatisation.

Further reading on this item can be viewed at: Slovenia Times: Postojna caves attracting more visitors and state investment