Slovenia – Socerb and Štanjel Castles
Please note that there is a restaurant inside the castle and you cannot get inside outside the opening hours. The castle was built on the ruins of a former Illyrian military fortress. The first mention dates back to 1040. Historically, it had a very strategic location. The current form is very far from the original, however, the view of the Koper and Tert Bay is still amazing. The forests under the castle hide another surprise. Here you will find the cave of Sveta jama - where the only underground church in Slovenia is hidden, some claim that even in the world. It is said that the cave is accessible on Sunday afternoon, but we cannot say how it will be this year.
The second stop today is the Skočjan karst caves. In 1996, they were listed as UNESCO monuments and are really beautiful. The local cave system boasts the deepest underground canyon in Europe. Inside there are huge spaces with many waterfalls, during the tour you walk through both the inner and partly the outer space of this landscape area. You can buy a ticket either online or on site. Groups of up to 10 people go inside. The whole tour is about 2 hours. Before visiting the cave, I recommend a stop at the lookout, it is about 200 m from the information center, access is well marked. If you have enough time, complete the entire circuit along the nature trail to the church and back.
On the information sign by the caves we noticed several other TOP places in Slovenia and one of us was particularly interested - the medieval town of Štanjel. As we approached the city, we had to stop. The settlement is situated on a small hill above the countryside and the individual houses are scattered in a semicircle around the church. The view from a distance is all the nicer because it is decorated with local vineyards.
We parked below the castle and slowly climb up. We consider going through the main gate, but then we choose the path on the left, which leads us to the Ferrari garden - Farrarijev Vrt. First, we turn around the forest road all the time and think about whether we will enter the city from behind at the end of it, or we will have to go back all the way. Suddenly, a gate to another world opens before us. In front of us is a structure designed as a support for vines or climbing roses. The entrance to the garden is really impressive. When we walk through this alley, we get to the main part of the garden with a pond and gazebo. There is a small bridge, stone railings and everything is situated under the castle, the atmosphere is unreal. The author of this splendor is a contemporary of Jože Plečnik, Max Fabianni, who designed the garden for the Trieste doctor Ernest Farrari.
Once we have had enough of the gardens, we continue up to the castle. Finally we get to the picturesque historic town with narrow streets, ancient houses and the church of St. Daniel, who gave the city its name. Štanjel is just a mispronounced name Daniel. We really like it here, only one thing is a bit strange, no one is here at all. We walk through the old center, the houses are beautifully decorated with flowers, everything is carefully maintained, but no one anywhere. Suddenly we hear a few voices and follow them. We discover the last gem of this place. A kind of stone square with tables, chairs, statues and a small cafe. They offer homemade ice cream, delicious coffee and local desserts. We can't resist the magic of this place and we will taste some of the goodies.
We are busy now. We have a quite challenging journey to the place of our accommodation today, a road full of serpentines, but also beautiful views. The guest house in Gorenje Novaki town is located in the mountains and foxes give a good night.
Text: Magdaléna Radostová
Photos: Magdaléna Radostová, Wikimedia Commons: Lander
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