The Vilenica Cave, which lies near the village of Lokev in the far west of Slovenia, reputedly has the longest tradition of speleological tourism in Europe. As early as 1633 Count Petazzi, the local landowner, conferred the cave upon the local parish which managed it as a resource and opened it up to visitors. Until the middle of 19th century Vilenica had the reputation of being the largest most beautiful and most frequented cave in the central Karst.
Long forlorn, passed over in favour of even larger caves in the region, Vilenica's fortunes were revived in 1963 when the local Sežana Caving Club began taking an interest in it. The club's members renovated its galleries in their leisure time and installed electric lighting.
The cave, which in bygone centuries triggered the imagination of visitors, is believed by locals to be the home of good fairies and this is how Vilenica got its name ("vile" is the Slovene word for fairies). "Vilenica" is also the name of an international literary award, presented annually within its cavernous Dance Hall.
Today the cave is fully illuminated and some 450 metres of the more than 1.3km of galleries are open to the public. A guided tour lasts about an hour.