Classical Karst

The Classical Karst, is as the name says, that area on earth where karst was first described. This area, owned by the Austrian Empire for centuries, was inhabited by the Slovene, one of so many peoples in this multi cultural empire. Trieste was the only mediterranean harbour of Austria, and so the road from Vienna through Maribor and Lujubljana to Triese was a very important highway. Many centuries ago, the first naturalists and geologists, geographs and historians started to describe the natural world instead of writing about alchemy and astrology.

And in this time, the area of the duchy Krain was decribed by Johann Weichard Frh. von Valvasor, a local aristocrat, who spent his whole possession to publish this book. The official language in this area was Slovene, but German was also an official language. So he wrote his book in German, because he wanted it to be read by the German and Austrian scientists. It worked, the area called karst became well known, and its specialty and its name soon became synonymous, so the geologic term karst means every area which is similar to this part of Slovenia.

It is difficult to say which extension the classical karst has, the borders are not really well defined. Also, there are different interpretations, which parts of Slowenia to include. Although we know there might be other oppinions, we decided to define the area in this way: An area of high elevation along the mediterranean Sea, from north of Trieste along Trieste and to the north of Istria. We do not include the area around Postojna, which is described on its own page.

The Kras is a bare landscape, geologically called. But this was not all the time. During the ice age the climate was much cooler and wetter, huge forests grew in this area, and the soil produced by the dissolution of the limestone was covered and protected by the plants. When the Romans discovered that those forests had the longest known trees, they started to cut down the forest. The long trees were used for the mast, the rest of the wood for the rest of the ships. But as soon as the forest was missing, the sun dried the soil and killed the lower plants, and the soil without plants was eroded by every rain. Soon all the soil was gone and the area was a bare rocky desert.

The main cave system of the classical karst is the Reka-Timavo System. The Reka is a river from the center of Slovenija which reaches the limeston ridge of the Kras near Skocjan. Here it flows into the Skocjanske Jame. There are numerous daylight shafts and caves on the Kras which are trubutaries to this system. In some caves the river reappears, and finally it springs as fiume Timavo, just to flow into the Mediterranean Sea after a few more kilometers. A huge part of the karst groundwater flows underground into the sea, socalled submarine karst springs.