Postojna Cave marks 200 years of cave guiding service

We officially launched the celebrations marking 200 years of the first organized cave guiding service in the world with Thursday's event in the Postojna Cave Concert Hall. Established in 1824 right here in Postojna Cave, our cave guides have since shown the beauty of this natural wonder to more than 42 million visitors.

The cave guide profession is unique and so rare that it could be compared to a pink diamond. This is why Postojna Cave General Manager Marjan Batagelj let the cave guides have the main say by labelling them, "The guiding light of our visitors, adept at acting, definitely experts, but above all the guardians of the cave."

There are only a few hundred professional cave guides in the world, with fifty of them working in Postojna Cave. They include electrical engineers, cavers, historians, biologists, geographers, a maths teacher and linguists. "But just knowledge is not enough," say the guides who have been working here for decades. "The cave makes the selection by itself. First and foremost, you have to love working with people. You have to be broad-minded and a little special in your own way," they admit laughingly. Love of nature and caves goes without saying.

The job of a cave guide has changed a lot in the past two hundred years. If being able to "read and write a little" and knowing "some German words" were advantages at the very beginning, today’s cave guides must be professionally qualified and hold a cave guide license in accordance with Slovenia’s strict legislation. All our guides speak at least two, some of them up to five foreign languages. Contrary to popular belief, Postojna Cave guides do much more than visible at first sight. Apart from providing guided tours of all the Park’s attractions, they also clean and care for the cave and cave animals, and most guides can also operate the cave train.

First Female Driver of the Legendary Cave Train in 200 years

"Being a cave guide in Postojna Cave has always been considered prestigious," explains cave guide and Predjama Castle manager Mateja Možina Margon. In the past, this was a distinctly male profession, with the first female guide being accepted into the eminent society of her male counterparts only 50 years ago! The ratio is much better today, 1:2 in favour of men, but we are proud that on this grand occasion – the 200th anniversary of the cave guiding service – we finally have the first female cave train operator, Anja Škarabot. "I say why not? Women drive cars, they drive trains and pilot planes, so it is high time that a new era begins in Postojna Cave, where women can do all that men can, including operating the cave train as well as being guides!"

23,000 Times in the Cave in 42 Years

Our guides’ answer to the question "Do you ever get tired of Postojna Cave?" was an emphatic 'No!’ "Each trip to the cave is a unique experience. Every time you see the cave from a different perspective and notice something new." Many of them even admit that they prefer being in the cave to staying outside. "The cave offers shelter and peace. When inside, I can calmly think about life’s key decisions," says the head of the guides Janez Margon. Sašo Adam, who has been with the Cave for 38 years, emotionally adds: "She’s the only one who knows all my secrets. She’s my first and second home.

We did some calculations in our free time and found out that Postojna Cave’s longest-serving guide – Stanislav Glažar – has given a tour of Slovenia’s largest natural attraction a total of 23,000 times in 42 years. "What I’m proud of the most is something I can’t show – the satisfaction that people feel when visiting. The thought that makes me happy is that many years after the visit, people still remember the beauty of the cave and what I told them," Mr Glažar summed up the essence of his mission as a cave guide a few days before his retirement. 

Honouring the work of cave guides

Cave guides are the ones who create experiences and write the stories that visitors to Postojna Cave take with them into the world. As they celebrate their jubilee, it is therefore the perfect time to write down the stories about them. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the first organized cave guiding service in the world, we opened a photo exhibition of Iztok Medja entitled Heroes from the Wonderworld, and you can read personal stories of our cave guides on a dedicated website:

Clicking on the link will reveal interesting interviews, including one with the oldest still living cave guide, 80-year-old Peter Rozman, with cave train caretaker Samo Dolenc, who traded a job at a bank for a toolbox, and many others. The website also offers an insight into the cave’s history and reveals why Postojna Cave guides are applauded wherever they appear, and why Postojna Cave is a logistical example for tourist caves all over the world.


Photo: Iztok Medja, Valter Leban, Arhiv Postojnska jama