Heritage Trails through Dolenjska and Bela krajina


Razvodna dvorana

Veliko jezero

Lepa dvorana

Kapniška dvorana


Zadnje jezero

Kostanjeviška jama (Cave)

The cave above the Studena spring, Studena
cadastral number:
1 kilometre south of Kostanjevica na Krki, in the Studena spring valley
entrance coordinates:
5534.102 / 5077.177; 170 m above sea level
length of explored shaftss:
1,813 m; difference in height: 48 m
cave type:
water cave with a series of fossil, occasionally flooded, water and flooded tunnels and depression cavers
the longest Dolenjska cave system rich with rich stalagmite and stalactite decoration the habitat of endemic cave animals
tourist cave:
210 m long organised path to the Kapniška dvorana
Klub jamarjev Kostanjevica na Krki

The Chronology of cave exploration and organisation

1937: a water flow draws attention to the cave entrance above the Studena spring
1937: members of the DZRL Ljubljana explored the cave
1952: the Tourist society and Kostanjevica na Krki commune organise the cave
1962: Novo mesto cavers discover the entrance to the Podorna dvorana
1964: the caving section of the Novo mesto Caving Club is founded
1966: the Kostanjevica cavers begin to organise the cave for tourists
1969: Kostanjevica na Krki Caving Club is founded
1971: the cave is opened to the public
1984: the present concrete steps replace the earlier wooden steps
1995: Kostanjevica cavers discover the 105 m long Malo jamo
1995: modernisation of the electric circuits and construction of the Cavers' Hall
1996: Novo mesto cavers discover the continuation of the cave system
1997: the entrance to the subterranean Studena discovered in Veliko jezero
1999: the 32 m deep Veliki sifon flooded

Visits to Kostanjeviška jama

The cave is open all year:

  • July and August: everyday between 10.00 h and 18.00. h,
  • June, April, May, September and October: on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
  • guided visits at: 10.00 h, 12.00 h, 14.00 h, 16.00 h, and 18.00 h
  • outside the above times by prior arrangement.

There is an organised car park and Cavers' Hall with a cafe outside the cave.
Information: tel: 041 297 001 and 07/498 87 088

A tour of Kostanjeviška jama

One of the most extreme and isolated islands of the Dolenjska karst is present on the slopes of the Gorjanci hills in the hinterland of Koštanjevica na Krki. It is here that the subterranean Studena stream has carved out the longest and most impressive cave system in Dolenjska. The cave arose in the badly fractured carbonate rocks, which were formed by dynamic tectonic processes at the foot of the rising Gorjanci hills.

Exploration has so far uncovered 1813 m of subterranean tunnels, which are composed of a series of fossil and occasionally flooded tunnels in the older part of the cave and the impressive depression caverns, water and flooded shafts of the newly discovered sections.

The old part of the cave can be seen during a tourist visit. The over 60 m long entrance tunnel was formed in a clearly visible fault, which was remodelled by a watercourse. The tunnel terminates in a 16 m deep chasm, into which lead the staircase to the occasionally flooded levels of the cave. The picturesque Razvodna dvorana (Watershed Cavern) opens out at this point. It runs from the deep lake under the staircase, beside the course of a shallow stream to the Presihajočo jezero (Intermittent Lake). The lake formerly flooded the entire tunnel, but the lake level has dropped considerably since the cave has been opened to the public. Steep steps lead from the lake to the higher Križna dvorana (Cross Cavern), at the end of which is a low entrance to the Kapniška dvorana, which has the most stalactites in the system and is one of the most beautiful Dolenjska caverns. It is adorned by various stalactite forms, the largest of which is the mighty stalactite pillar, the symbol of the cave. This is surrounded by Father Frost and the stalagmite dwarves. This marks the end of the 210 m long tourist path.

The new parts of the cave are only accessible to cavers. The base of the Križna dvorana conceals the entrance to the Podorna dvorana (Depression Cavern), which is marked by a rockfall of rocks and stone blocks. From here to continuations of the new cave open out, the Črni rov and the Vroči rov (Hot Tunnel) in a narrow crack at a somewhat higher level. Cavers crossed the narrows of the latter and found a good 1220 m of continuation. It begins with the spacious, almost 100 m long Dvorana netopirjev (Bat Cavern), in which the subterranean space widens out along a crack, whose rock falls mark the entire cavern. A narrow entrance opens out into the Lepa dvorana (Beautiful Cavern), adorned with varied stalactite forms and closed by an impressive stalactite cone at the far end. After this, the cavern opens out again into the spacious Dvorana balvanov (Boulder Cavern). Massive rock boulders, covered with clay loam layers lie on the uneven floor, whilst the ceiling disappears into the high rocks. The tunnel narrows towards the end and leads to the edge of the deep canyon, which is flooded by the picturesque Veliko jezero (Great Lake).

The lower level runs beside the fault in the depths below the Dvorana balvanov and the Dvorana netopirjev. It comprises a series of narrow tunnels, which are conected with the Podorna dvorana in the old part of the cave.

The continuation of the cave is hidden in the Veliko jezero, where low water levels reveal the entrance into the Šumeča dvorana (Noisy Cavern). From there it is possible climb down to the torrential river in the Brzice (Rapids) cavern, whilst the high Balkon (Balcony) entrance leads to the c. 180 m long Kanjon (Canyon) of the underground river. The underground river runs at the bottom of this canyon, trapped between smooth rock fissures. The water flows from the 33 m deep Veliki sifon, in which divers have uncovered the farthest cavern in the system, the Jezero tretjega tisočletja (The Lake of the Third Millennium).

Cave fauna

The Slovenian karst is a treasury of cave fauna. An important part of this is also supplied by Kostanjeviška jama, because the relatively isolated karst island plays host to a varied cave fauna with several locally widespread endemic species.

An original amongst minute cave beetles is the barely 1 mm long jamski mrhar (Bathyscimorphus uskokensis) (Cave Scamp), the less than 1 cm long Gorjanci suspecies of the jamski brzec Anophthalmus ajdovskanus gorjancensis and a further still not described subspecies Anophthalmus schaumi ssp.

Southern Horseshoe Bats

Monolistra racovitzai pseudoberica

Martoniopsis croatica

Small freshwater shrimps are common in the subterranean Studena stream. The finest example is the 10 - 15 mm long kostanjeviški gladki ježek (Monolistra racovitzai pseudoberica), which rlls up into a ball when danger threatens. Some of the water snails also draw ones attention. These include the 2 mm paladilhiopsis (Paladilhiopsis kostanjevicae), which is only known here, and jamski marstoniopsis (Marstoniopsis croatica).

Bats are also an interesting feature of the cave. In addition to the common lesser (Rhinolophus hipposideros) and Greater Horseshoe bats (R. ferrumequinum), the cave also provides refuge for the rare Southern Horseshoe Bat (R. euryale), playing host to a winter colony of up to 300 individuals.