The Karst Plateau or the Karst region (Slovene : Kras, Italian : Carso), also locally called Karst, is a karst plateau region extending across the border of southwestern Slovenia and northeastern Italy.
It lies between the Vipava Valley, the low hills surrounding the valley, the westernmost part of the Brkini Hills, northern Istria, and the Gulf of Trieste. The western edge of the plateau also marks the traditional ethnic border between Italians and Slovenes. The region gave its name to karst topography. For this reason, it is also referred to as the Classical Karst.
The plateau rises quite steeply above the neighboring landscape, except for its northeastern side, where the steepness is less pronounced. The plateau gradually descends from the southeast to the southwest. On average it lies 334 m above sea level. Its western edge, known as the Karst Rim (Slovene : Kraški rob ), is a continuation of the Učka mountain range in eastern Istria, and rises to the east and southeast of Trieste, ending in steep cliffs between Aurisina and Duino. Many interesting geological phenomena occur along the Karst Rim, including the picturesque Rosandra Valley (also known as Glinščica).
Because the Karst steeply descends towards the Adriatic Sea, it is less exposed to the beneficial climatological effects of the Mediterranean. In the past, the main vegetation on the plateau was oaks, but these were replaced by pine forests in the 19th and 20th centuries. Forests now cover only one-third of the Karst. Starting in the Middle Ages, the plateau suffered radical deforestation for economic reasons. Although much of the wood for the closely spaced piles that support the island city of Venice, Italy came from this region, Venice carefully managed the Karst forests as a reserve for naval timber. The most radical deforestation occurred in the mid-nineteenth century due to clear-cutting by local farmers and conversion of the land into pastures for sheep.
The Karst is famous for its caves. In Slovenia, they include Vilenica Cave (the oldest show cave in Europe), Lipica Cave, Divača Cave, Kačna Cave, Postojna Cave, and Škocjan Caves (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Grotta Gigante in Italy (the largest show cave in the world).
Most of the Karst is located in the Slovenian Littoral, covering an area of 429 square kilometres, with a population of about 19,000 people. The Karst as a whole has exactly 100 settlements. The town of Sežana is the center of the region on the Slovene side of the border. The main rural centers are the settlements of Divača, Dutovlje, and Komen. Štanjel is a picturesque clustered settlement at the top of the northern rim of the plateau; its houses are tightly clustered around Turn Hill, giving it the appearance of a medieval town. On the Italian side of the border, important settlements include Opicina, Duino, and Aurisina.
Natural conditions, including the bora (Slovene : burja) wind, and the local way of life all shaped the elements of Karst architecture, creating simple but well-defined forms. One of the main tourist centers in the area is Lipica, with its stud farm (the home of the Lipizzan horse breed) and other tourist facilities.
The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Karst Plateau are ethnic Slovenes. Traditionally, only the village of San Martino del Carso (in the municipality of Sagrado), has been inhabited by Friulian speakers, while all the rest of the region was almost entirely Slovene-speaking from the Middle Ages till the late 1940s and 1950s, when Istrian Italians fleeing from Yugoslavia were settled in Karst villages in the Province of Trieste, especially in the municipality of Duino. As a consequence, today an estimated one fifth of the population of the Karst Plateau is Italian speaking, while the rest is mostly Slovene speaking.
The Slovenes in the region speak two closely related Slovene dialects, both belonging to the Littoral dialect group. In the southern part of the plateau (in the municipalities of Divača and Hrpelje-Kozina, and the southern part of the Municipality of Sežana, in the Italian municipality of Monrupino, and in most of the Slovene-speaking areas of the municipality of Trieste), the Inner Carniolan dialect is spoken. In the northern part (the northern part of the Municipality of Sežana, in the Slovenian municipalities of Komen and Miren-Kostanjevica, in the Italian municipalities of Sgonico, Duino-Aurisina and Doberdò del Lago, as well in some eastern suburbs of Trieste, like Barcola), the Karst dialect is spoken.
The Karst is renowned for its strong red wine, known as teran, prosciutto and its traditional cuisine, which is a mixture of Mediterranean and Central European cuisine. The traditionally produced Karst prosciutto, a sort of dry-cured ham, is protected at the European level.
Prominent persons that were born or lived in this region include the poets Srečko Kosovel, Igo Gruden, Ciril Zlobec, and Branka Jurca, social activist Danilo Dolci, architect Max Fabiani, painters Avgust Černigoj and Lojze Spacal, writers Alojz Rebula, Igor Torkar, and Bogomir Magajna, theologian Anton Mahnič, politicians Drago Marušič, Josip Ferfolja, and Majda Širca, economist Milko Brezigar, and actress Ita Rina. The picturesque Karst landscape inspired numerous artists who were not from this region, including the poets Rainer Maria Rilke, Alojz Gradnik, and Edvard Kocbek, essayists Scipio Slataper and Marjan Rožanc, writers Italo Svevo, Fulvio Tomizza, and Susanna Tamaro, and film director Jan Cvitkovič. Many artists and authors settled in the area, including Josip Osti and Taras Kermauner.
Municipalities that are completely or partially in the Karst include:
Sometimes, the region around Pivka and Postojna is also included.
The Province of Trieste was a province in the autonomous Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Its capital was the city of Trieste. It had an area of 212 square kilometres (82 sq mi) and it had a total population of 234,668. It had a coastal length of 48.1 kilometres (29.9 mi).
Duino is today a seaside resort on the northern Adriatic coast. It is a hamlet of Duino-Aurisina, a municipality (comune) of the Province of Trieste in the Friuli–Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy. The settlement, picturesquely situated on the steep Karst cliffs of the Gulf of Trieste, is known for Duino Castle, perpetuated by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in his Duino Elegies.
The Slovene Littoral is one of the five traditional regions of Slovenia. Its name recalls the former Austrian Littoral, the Habsburg possessions on the upper Adriatic coast, which the Slovene Littoral was part of.
The Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca, historically sometimes shortened to and spelled "Goritz", was a crown land of the Habsburg dynasty within the Austrian Littoral on the Adriatic Sea, in what is now a multilingual border area of Italy and Slovenia. It was named for its two major urban centers, Gorizia and Gradisca d'Isonzo.
Aurisina is a town in the karst part of the comune of Duino-Aurisina near Trieste, Italy, in a region of Slovene minority. It lies 15 kilometres northwest of Trieste, and according to the 2003 census had a total of 2,406 inhabitants, 60% of them Slovenes.
The Morgan Line was the line of demarcation set up after World War II in the region known as Julian March which prior to the war belonged to the Kingdom of Italy. The Morgan Line was the border between two military administrations in the region: the Yugoslav on the east, and that of the Allied Military Government on the west. After 15 September 1947, the Allied Military Government was composed of both the British Element Trieste Forces (BETFOR) troops from the United Kingdom and the Trieste United States Troops (TRUST) from the United States.
Opicina, , is a town in northeastern Italy, close to the Slovenian border at Fernetti. Opicina is a frazione of the comune of Trieste, the provincial and regional capital. The town has a large Slovene population, with Slovenian being widely used alongside Italian in private and public institutions. The first town near Opicina is Sežana in Slovenia, there is also the next railway station.
Doberdò del Lago is a comune (municipality) in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Trieste and about 11 kilometres (7 mi) southwest of Gorizia, and borders the following municipalities: Duino-Aurisina, Fogliano Redipuglia, Komen (Slovenia), Miren-Kostanjevica (Slovenia), Monfalcone, Ronchi dei Legionari, Sagrado, and Savogna d'Isonzo. It is located in the westernmost part of the Karst Plateau.
Duino-Aurisina is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Trieste in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Lying near the border with Slovenia, it has a substantial Slovene minority. It is named by the two major settlements, Duino (Devin) and Aurisina (Nabrežina).
Monrupino is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Trieste in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) north of Trieste, on the border with Slovenia. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 848 and an area of 12.7 square kilometres (4.9 sq mi). According to the 1971 census, 77.3% of the population are Slovenes.
Sgonico is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Trieste in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about 12 kilometres (7 mi) northwest of Trieste, on the border with Slovenia. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 2,130 and an area of 31.3 square kilometres (12.1 sq mi). According to the 1971 census, 81.6% of the population are Slovenes.
Terrano is a Slovenian and Italian wine variety, bearing the mark of recognized traditional denomination. It is a member of the Refosco family of grape varieties, which also includes Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. Since 2006 it is a wine with a protected designation of origin (PDO) within European Union under the protected designation "Teran".
The Karst dialect, sometimes Gorizia–Karst dialect, is a Slovene dialect in the Littoral dialect group, spoken in western Slovenia and in parts of the Italian provinces of Trieste and Gorizia. It takes its name from the Karst Plateau.
The Inner Carniolan dialect is a Slovene dialect in the Littoral dialect group. It is spoken in a relatively large area, extending from western Inner Carniola up to Trieste in Italy, also covering the upper Vipava Valley and the southern part of the Karst Plateau.
Slovene minority in Italy, also known as Slovenes in Italy is the name given to Italian citizens who belong to the autochthonous Slovene ethnic and linguistic minority living in the Italian autonomous region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia. The vast majority of members of the Slovene ethnic minority live in the Provinces of Trieste, Gorizia, and Udine. Estimates of their number vary significantly; the official figures show 52,194 Slovenian speakers in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, as per the 1971 Census, but Slovenian estimates speak of 83,000 to 100,000 people.
The Municipality of Divača is a municipality in the Littoral region of Slovenia, near the Italian border. The seat of the municipality is the town of Divača. The municipality was established on 6 November 1994, when the former Municipality of Sežana was dissolved into four smaller municipalities. Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the municipality.
The Municipality of Komen is a municipality in the Littoral region of Slovenia, near the Italian border. The seat of the municipality is the town of Komen. The municipality was established on 6 November 1994, when the former Municipality of Sežana was dissolved into four smaller municipalities.
The Municipality of Sežana is a municipality in the Littoral region of Slovenia, near the Italian border. The seat of the municipality is the town of Sežana. The municipality was established on 6 November 1994, when the former Municipality of Sežana was split into four smaller municipalities.
Grotta Regina del Carso is a Karst cave in the village of San Michele del Carso in the municipality of Savogna d'Isonzo. The cave is not open to public, and the access is managed by Talpe del Carso/Kraški Krti speleological group, headquartered in the vicinity of the entrance.
The Karst Living Museum is a nature trail in Slovenia. Part of the Karst Plateau, the museum is an ecologically-important area with many karst features. It was recognized as Slovenia's best thematic trail in 2017, and the region is a Natura 2000 site.
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