Near Kastav, 11 km northwest of Rijeka.
|Dimension:||L=540 m, VR=101 m.|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Šparožna Jama, Dalibor Res, Pelini 77, 51215 Kastav, Tel: +385-51-691348.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1886||explored by members of the Rijeka Mountaineering Club.|
|1890s||developed and opened as a show cave.|
|1914||cave closed due to World War I.|
|194?||cave used as an ammunition depot by the Italian army.|
|1943||after Italy capitulated the German army searched for partisans hiding in the pit and had the cave entrance blown up.|
Šparožna Jama (Sparozna Cave, Asparagus Cave) is known since the 19th century, the first documented exploration by members of the Rijeka Mountaineering Club was in 1886. It was developed and opened as a show cave a few years later and was one of the first show caves in the area. In Austro-Hungarian tourist guidebooks the cave was listed as a major attraction. It was well visited and the guide was Mate Sušanj from Kastav. With the outbreak of World War I the cave was closed in 1914. Changing borders and the aftermath of the war kept it closed, and after it was used as an ammunition depot during World War II, the entrance was blown up. The entrance was blocked for half a century.
Around 2000 the cave was restored and reopened by the caving club Estavela from Kastav. They offer guided tours, but do not have regular open hours. But the cave is open on certain occasions, especially local festivals.
To reach the cave you have to walk 4.5 km from Kastav, starting at the church, following a gravel road to the north which is called MAKADAM. Halfway is the Lovačka kuća Lisjak (Lisjak hunting lodge) which seems to be opened as a cafe or pub on rare occasions. But it is always a good orientation point. The cave is easy to find, as it is located right at the gravel road and there is a new explanatory sign. There is a virtual tour on Google maps, which is quite good. The entrance is closed by a wall of limestone blocks, with an iron bar door. A stone staircase leads down into the entrance hall and ends here. The cave was developed in the late 19th century and thus never had electric light.
There are several interesting caves in the region. The Šparožna Cave is the largest and is 540 m long and 101 m deep. In the entrance area the remains of a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) were found, which were dated to 15,000 BC (late Pleistocene).
Once upon a time, so long ago that it is not even written in the books, in the middle of the Kastav region, in the Lužina forest, lived the Hajdini.
The Hajdini were ruled by King Rukan.
But they were careless and arrogant, cutting huge amounts of wood for burning, not caring about the forest creatures, they had taken their homes away.
The fires that often burned at the city, tainted the rocks and the overgrowth black.
They blocked the flow of the clear forest stream with stones and dug a bed, one that led to their city.
They were greed, wanted to have everything and they never had enough of anything.
At the foot of the Lužina forest lived modestly Lužinjani, in stone houses divided by narrow paths. Among them lived Malik, the forest dwarf, happy eyes and smiling face under a red cap was known by all children. He decorated their houses with wildflowers and protected them with laurel, entertained the children every night with stories about forest creatures. Although all the stories were similar to each other, he never bored them, and when their eyelids became heavy he carried them into the world of dreams.
At King Rukan's court his three daughters complained "We are cold!" Rukan's advisor, the evil witch Štriga, did the same, although it was summer and a fire was burning in the huge fireplace. And they complained about the darkness. They persuaded him to catch the Sun, so he could command when it would rise and when it would go down. Rukan liked the idea of controlling the Sun, so to catch it more easily he ordered the courtyards to be built higher, to be closer to the Sun. His only son and future prince Šutan was ordered to cut down a hundred oaks with his servants.
At the early dawn of that morning, Jana Bršljančeva walked from the village to the stream. She sat down by the stream and washed her most beautiful red dress. But at one point, she accidentally slipped and fell into the stream with the red dress, which the stream took away quickly to Rukan's court. Prince Šutan disagreed with his father’s idea to grab the Sun. He believed that such greed could not bring anything good. He noticed the red dress in the stream, so he quickly stepped into the water with his horse and took it out. He knew his father had threatened the people of Lužinj with deaths not to come to the stream. He hurried his horse and set off in search, followed by Malik who had seen all.
Jana ran as fast as she could towards the village, but she kept getting stuck on something. First a pebble on the road, then an asparagus bush, then a felled tree stump. When she heard the muffled sound of a horse approaching, she realised that she could not escape or hide. So she stood up proudly and stood in the middle of the path. In an instant, the young Šutan appeared on his horse in front of her and stopped, transfixed by Jana's beauty. Then he dismounted and handed her the dress without a word. And as if in a dream, Šutan, the king's son, fell in love and kissed the plain Lužina Jana. Everything around her somehow became soft and silky, and Malik carefully conjured a house of fragrant wild roses around them. The whole world seemed to be outside the fragile walls. There was no chirping of birds, no sound of axes being used to fell the centuries-old oaks,
Štriga wove a net of fairy hair to catch the sun. The masons erected courtyards getting closer to the Sun every second. But then Štriga's crow landed on the window sill and said "Kraa, kraa, Šutan Hajdin loves Jana Bršljančeva! Kraa, kraa!” Rukan thundered "He who loves a peasant woman cannot be a prince, nor my son! Throw them both in jail!” And so the two lovers ended up in the deepest dungeons of the Hajda's city.
Exactly at noon, when the Sun was closest, Štriga's crow pulled the net over the Sun. Rukan and the strongest Hajdini grabbed the net and pulled the Sun towards them. The Sun gradually gave way and sank to the ground, and complete darkness came. For a while, everything stopped in silence. Then a distant but loud roar was heard from the depths, the ground began to tremble, the Earth cracked, and the whole city of the Hajdini vanished underground.
Some people say that Šutan and Jana were saved by Malik. They lived happily in the village of Lužinj and their descendants built the town of Kastav.
There are several variations of this story told. In one the villagers were forced to build the tower to fetch the sun, which took seven years. Also, the guides tell the people that it is a bad idea to take anything away from the cave, because this will bring misfortune. The ghosts of Hajdini live in the cave and as they were greedy then, they are greedy now and punish anyone who take what they think is theirs. A pretty good story to minimize vandalism.