The Baby Dragons of Postojna Cave, Slovenia
Just an hour southwest of Ljublijana, the capital of Slovenia, there is cave called Postojna which is so fast it has its own railway. Despite this, one of the primary attractions in the cave is something much smaller and something 100% unique to Postojna.
While Postojna is in modern times one of the most visited underground attractions in Europe, it has been known to locals since about 1213. We know this because of paintings and drawings left by early visitors. Tourists didn’t start arriving in any serious numbers until the last Holy Roman Emperor, Franz I of Austria, traveled there in 1818. Since the his visit about 35 million people have experienced Postojna’s natural wonders.
And it should come as no surprise as the first two miles of its 24 kilometer web of champers and tunnels has a small train to take visitors back and forth between portions of the cave.
The end of line for the train is a monstrous chamber called Congress Hall in which the Milan Symphony Orchestra played in the year 1930. The walking path the leads on past Congress Hall passes through six geological strata. It also crosses a bridge built by Russian prisoners in World War I that takes travelers over a chasm. The path continues on past gorges, slim stalactites, and flowstone curtains.
Some of the passages are as slim as one meter wide while traveling as much as 377 miles underground.
Despite all this, the main attraction seems to be having a face to face with some tiny, unusual creatures that are found only in the cave Postojna and nowhere else on the Earth.
Proteus anguinus, or Olms, are blind salamanders, only about 25 centimeters long. This particular breed never develops beyond their watery, juvenile phase. This is why most visitors experience their encounter with them via an man made aquarium swimming among the rocks.
Locals long ago named them baby dragons as they washed out of the cave if Postojna flooded and since dragons live in caves, they assumed these were the babies.