Pazin Vegetations

The Vegetation in Pazin Croatia

pazin vegetation 4
pazin vegetation 4

Based in its vegetation and geographic features, the area of confluence the Pazinčica River has a sub-Mediterranean character.
Its plant communities mainly consist of deciduous species of trees and bushes.
Thermophile (preferring warm areas) vegetation is represented by two habitats.

Forests of pubescent oak and oriental horn beam (Querco-Carpinetum orientalis)
– The most thermophile community of these forests
Forests of pubescent oak and hop hornbeam (Ostrio-Quercetum pubescentis)
– The most frequent in the confluence of the Pazinčica
– The layer of bushes presents bloodtwig dogwood, mahaleb cherry, Rhus toxicodendron and common privet

Colder and northern slopes or well canyons, especially on the flysch base, are characterized by components of mesophile vegetation.
They grow in the following forest communities:
Seaside beech forest with autumn moor grass
– inhabit lower areas and narrow valleys
Forests of peduncular oak with  autumn moor grass
Microclimate conditions within the cave obviously divide the flora into two parts.
The brim of the cave and its sunny sides mainly feature species with  thermophile character;
various reeds, hellebore, common germander, and fennel.
The shadier northern and northeast slopes of the cave feature species with particularly mesophile character; baneberry, O. Pallens (pale orchid), dead nettle.
There are also numerous ferns, moss and mushrooms.

pazin vegetation
pazin vegetation

Around the cave grows a variety of endangered and protected species of ground level flora.
Martagon lily and Istrian hellebore are strictly protected, and the followings regional species are protected:

  • cyclamen
  • Hepatica Nobilis
  • common periwinkle
  • Italian lords and ladies
  • European ginger root
  • sea holly other
  • snowdrop
  • Autumn joy
  • Salomon’s seal

On the rocks around the cave and also on the walls around the Castle and on the bell tower of St. Nicholas frequently grows the endemic Adriatic species Campanula pyramidalis.

The creation of Cave


The Pazinčica
The confluence of the Pazinčica, popularly called “potok” (stream) by the inhabitants of Pazin covers the surface of 83 square kilometres and the length of 16.5 km. It almost entirely lies on the impermeable flysch rocks giving the water flows a very flood-like character. Reaching the permeable rock in the cave, the Pazinčica becomes a subterranean river.
Due to large precipitations, floods are characterized by the creation of big quantities of water. When the inflow of waters of the Pazinčica exceeds the capacity of disappearing underground, the cave witnesses the flooding of the abyss.
The Pazinčica used to flow underground-near Beram, Kringa and Dvigrad to the sea- forming the Lim Valley.

In the hydro-geological sense, the Cave of Pazin is an abyss created on the junction of the impermeable flysch base of the confluence of the Pazinčica and the permeable limestone that makes up the whole area of southwest Istria. Right behind the impressive gorge of the abyss is a long hall with a large cave lake- Martel’s lake. By means of a siphon, it is connected with the nearby Mitar’s lake.
Research indicates that the water bearer whose waters also include the Pazinčica directs its waters towards springs in the east and the south part of the Istrian peninsula (Raša and Blaz).

The share in the formation of the Cave of Pazin equally belongs to tectonic and hydrologic influences, so that it can be called the speleological object of polygenetic type.
Layers of upper-Cretaceous limestone included in the large NW-SI crevices provided a tectonic predisposition for the creation of the cave itself and the final canyon of the Pazinčica. The once opened passage into the underground was enlarged and shaped as a consequence of later influence of water.
The largest flood in the cave occurred in 1896. It was noted by E. A. Martel, renowned French speleologist. On that event, the water in the cave reached 30 metres under the city walls of the Castle. The last big floods happened in 1964 and 1993.


Edouard Alfred Martel, 

Pazin explorer
Pazin explorer

(Pontoise, 1859. – St.Thomas La Garde, 1938.)
Laywer by profession, and a big fan of Jules Verne’s works and travels. Along with his explorer’s spirit, this determined his interest later in life. He explored more than 1500 abysses, caves and underground streams. Martel explored Dragon’s Caves on Majorca, numerous caves and abysses in France, Belgium, Switzerland, England and the USA. In 1893, along with W. Putick, he descended to the end of the Abyss of Pazin, and he made its first sketch. The same year, he travelled through Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Monte Negro and Greece, exploring abysses, underground rivers and underground streams. He wrote thousands of articles and around twenty books about his explorations. His book Abîmes (1894), which, among other things, comprises the report on the exploration of the Abyss of Pazin, had 10 editions! By establishing Société de Spéléologie (1895) and starting the famous magazine “Spelunca”, E. A. Martel set up foundations of modern speleology. E. A. Martel was the president of the prestigious Société de Géographie and a member of the French Academy.


Wilhelm Putick,
(Popuvka (Brno), Češka, 1856. – Ljubljana, 1929.).
Studied forestry in Vienna and worked in the State Forestry Administration in Vienna from 1885. In 1893, he was transferred to forestry inspection in Ljubljana, where he worked until his retirement in 1924. As early as 1879, he took an interest in hydrology of karst, meliorations and abyss exploration. He explored more than 110 caves from 1886 to 1899! In 1893, during the exploration of the Abyss of Postojna and the underground Pivka, E. A. Martel joined him. Putick was mostly interested in hydrology of karst fields, problems of floods and their melioration. He is one of the first to have worked on the project of reclaiming the Lake of Ćepić in Istria.

Mirko Malez,
(Ivanec, 1924.- Zagreb, 1990.)
Studied geological sciences in Zagreb. Collaborator in Geologic-paleontological collection and karst laboratory, which under his guidance became the Palaeontology Quaternary Geology Institute. He was a regular member of the Croatian Academy. His significant works comprised fields of paleozoology, paleoanthropology, speleology and Quaternary geology, especially concerning cave layers and fossil people, appearance of ice wedges, development of river terraces and other. The majority of his works was dedicated to faunas of fossil mammals of Pleistocene. He was the founder and the president of the Speleology Association of Croatia. Explored the Pazin Abyss with collaborators in 1967.

Pazin explorer - Drago Opasic
Pazin explorer – Drago Opasic

Drago Opašić – Billy
(Cerovlje, 1948 – 2000)
Jamar – federal speleology instructor, poet, hermit, ecologist, diver, entertainer, cameraman, pyrotechnist, bohemian and declared anarchist, Drago Opašić – Billy, born at noon sharp, 12 December 1948 in Cerovlje. Curiosity and passion for nature and for Istria made him explore the Istrian underground, so he backpacked all Istria, well-known in every village and at every festivity.
His love for earth, nature and people was expressed in form of poems that tell us about himself as much as about Istria and its people.
Regardless of the fact that he chose to stay out of the system and without a permanent employment, he was the initiator, the founder and long-time president of the Speleology Association “Istra” from Pazin, through which he passed his love of nature on to new generations, as a teacher, a mentor and a role-model. He participated in important international and Croatian speleological expeditions. Billy’s ardour with the Abyss of Pazin culminated in a big exploring action in the Abyss in 1975.

Research History

Pazin history
Pazin history
Pazin history

The impressive abyss of the Pazin stream in the karst cave had attracted attention for a long time, of both curious European travel writers and scientists and speleologists.
The cave of Pazin was first mentioned in 1770 by Alberto Fortis, natural scientist from Padua in his study of the karst underground in Istria.
However, first systematic research of the abyss of Pazin was made by Edouard A. Martel, renowned French speleologist and karst scholar.
In 1893, E. A. Martel and Wilhelm Putick, forestry expert from Ljubljana, made the first detailed draft of the cave. Martel recognized the fact that the abyss was created as the consequence of the effect of water running along the crevices in the rocks, and that waters from the large underground lake (Martel’s lake) must outflow through the siphon on the bottom.
In the 1920s, the Italian geologist Carlo D’Ambrosi indicated the underground connection between the abyss of Pazin and the valley of the Raša River in the eastern part of Istria. The experiment with marked eels of the scientist from Rovinj Massimo Sella additionally confirmed this fact.
In 1967, geologists from Zagreb and the paleontologist Mirko Malez made a detailed draft of the cave and studied its creation in detail. Malez advocates the earlier theory claiming that waters from the cave spring in the Lim Canal in the western part of Istria.
After that, the cave was researched by the Speleological Association Istra from Pazin, with the assistance of divers from Pula.
In 1975, Mitar Marinović dived across the siphon of the large lake and dived out in the next, until then unknown cave hall with a little lake named Mitar’s Lake after him.
Despite the fact that the last water marking confirmed that they definitely do not reach the Lim Canal, but the east and the south of Istria, the latest research of speleologists from Pazin discovered yet another abyss, in the Green Cave (Zelena pećina).
So after all, does the Green Cave take a part of waters of the Pazinčica towards the Lim Canal?

Only additional research can provide an answer to this question.