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The Luknja footpath

Luknja is the valley where the river Temenica rises and has probably developed by the collapse of the ceiling of a Karst cave. Similar, typical gable-formed valleys are enhanced by different Karst phenomena: the caves Lukenjska jama and Jama za gradom, as well as a minor natural window, the landslip behind the castle, the “estavela” (a spring when the water is level high, and a sinkhole when water level is low), as well as the abyss Velika Stražica in the hinterland of the spring. The hillside between the cool landslip and the thermophilic walls are covered by variegated vegetation, while the Karst caves and an underground river are populated by several rare and endangered animal species. These natural conditions are being completed by the there cultural heritage: the archaeological site in the cave Lukenjska jama, the ruins of the former Luknja castle under the wall of the landslip, the old hydroelectric power-station, as well as the former diary farm of the there castle and the Venetian sawmill at the entrance of the valley.
The valley Izvirna dolina is protected as a natural monument, and the ruins of the Luknja castle and the Venetian sawmill as a cultural monument. (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 92/38).
The occasionally springing horizontal whole has formed between the layers of light-grey Jurassic lime-stones. Behind the entrance to the cave, there is a large hall which after a shorter erosion pit ends with a limestone hall and a siphon lake, from which after stronger rainfall underground water swells and floats the entire cave. The siphon is almost 50 metres long and leads into a marvellously calcareous sinter pit, which after 100 metres ends in a siphon lake. In front of the cave is a permanent spring; his water background is at present not known yet. To the North of the entrance to the cave under the half-cave, there is another entrance to the cave, known as an archaeological site. His right pit is connected with the entrance hall, while the left pit ends in a calcareous sinter pit. The cave is a biotope of underground animals and the refuge of bats.
The visit of these caves is possible only with a cave explorer.
Under the half-cave of the northern entrance to the cave, the remnants of habitation from the older Stone Age were found in the form of sedimentary deposits. A variegated inventory of stone tools, made of flint was dug out: an etching knife, blades, gimlets, which belong to the time between the two glaciations. Their age was estimated with a radiometric analysis C14 on/to 12,580 + 520 years. Furthermore were found the remnants of the bones of the Alpine marmot, the reindeer, the elk, the beaver, the giant deer, wild cattle and the golden eagle. In the early layers the remnants of newer cultures all until the Aenaeolithic, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age until the Roman Empire were detected. The Palaeolithic station was researched in the years 1975 – 82 by Dr. Franc Osole.
The Luknja Castle was first mentioned in written sources in the year 1358 and was thought of as being one of the most fortified castles in the Region of Dolenjska. The castle's first owners were the masters of Luknja and among them also Erazem Predjamski. In the year 1550 the then owners Galli, the honourable Gallensteins enclosed the late gothic tower-like core part of the castle with a wall, two corner towers and a moat.  Due to an obligatory tax that had to be paid on roofs, the castle after World War II was unroofed and abandoned to become a ruin. In the cave above the castle, there are visible remnants of the medieval refuge, as well as military observatory.
The river Temenica is the most known disappearing stream in the Region of Dolenjska. At the end of the valley Mirnopeška dolina it vanishes for the second time. After a 2 kilometres long underground flow, it appears on the surface again and shortly after that flows into the river Krka. Under the stemmed spring, there are a few smaller millraces, while in the gable in front of the cave Lukenjska jama, there is the spring estavela.  Besides the river Temenica, the underground waters form the fields Dobrniško polje and Globodolsko polje appear here as well. Among the animals in the inaccessible underground flows stand out the endemic crab Nipharagus stenopus and the rich population of the proteus. 
The spring of water once drove the mill and the saw-mill of the castle, which in 1908 were reorganized into a power station. Today's stem and the hydroelectric power station with a double Francis turbine were set up in 1919, and after a reconstruction in the year 1985 it is now in operation again. A visit of the power station is possible on previous arrangement with the firm Elektro Ljubljana in Novo mesto.
The mill and the saw-mill at the entrance to the valley were built in 1908, and were in operation as soon as in 1970. The Saw-mill is one of the rare preserved mills with a horizontal flow in Slovenia that is driven by a water turbine.
In the Karst-like slope above the Luknja valley, there is the abyss Velika Stražica. Typical for this abyss is a large underground hall with a diameter of 60 metres, which is opening up at its ceiling. Its lowest point is under a broad rock fall. The visit of this abyss is possible only with a cave explorer.
The largest part of the marked paths leads through the forest. Due to different positions, and thus as well different conditions, of growth – reaching from the fertile soil along the river to the dry walls of the landslip – in the valley of the river Temenica, there are several forest societies, among which more than 110 different botanical species have been recorded so far. 20 of them are tree species. Such variety of species shows a high level of preservation of the natural heritage, which is why walks through this area are interesting and educational. The path along this the valley, leads through a forest with mostly oaks and beeches (Querco-Fagetum).
For the visit of the Luknja valley there are marked paths for taking walks around. You can choose between:
- a walk along the river Temenica, up to its spring; this path will lead you along the castle and the cave; this walk is 1.8 km long and lasts 1 hour
- a walk along the brink of the Luknja valley to the abyss Velika Stražica with a descent into the Luknja valley; this walk is 3.5 km long and lasts 2 hours.


undemanding walk, demanding secured trail 

around the valley 

Range of hiking available
family excursions, walks, trails along rivers, trails through forests, climbing areas 


Tel. : 00 386 7 39 39 263 
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