On the short Slovenian Coast, there are today only a few coastal wetlands, pertaining to the short deltas of the Istrian rivers and brooks. At one time there were more, as the delta marshes and bays were shaped into the salt pans that were to be found on the verges of all the coastal towns (salt pans in Koper, Izola, Strunjan, Lucija and Sečovlje).
The salt pans in Slovenia nowadays
Nowadays, the salt pans exist only in Strunjan and Sečovlje. Besides these, also considered to be a part of the coastal marsh wetlands are the Strunjan lagoons (Stjuža and Pretočna), both of the Fiesa lakes, the Škocjan marshes and the delta of the Rižana River. All the Slovenian coastal wetlands are thus the work of human endeavour, but still in concordance with nature.
The Sečovlje salt pans are today the largest of the coastal marsh wetlands (650 hectares), and at the same time, the most important Slovenian locality from the ornithological point of view. The variety of bird species in this area, from the aspect of nesting and wintering, is much larger than in any other comparable locality of its kind.
To date, 272 bird species have been established in the Sečovlje Salina, with some 90 breeders among them. On the basis of these facts, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in 2001 proclaimed the area the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and the Museum of Salt-making a cultural monument of national importance.
In 1993, the Salina became the first Slovenian wetland to be inscribed on the list of internationally important marshes under the auspices of the Ramsar Convention. The Salina is extremely important as an extraordinary assortment of various ecosystems combined of transition forms between sea water, brackish, fresh water and land ecosystems.
On the basis of regulations stipulated by the national law on nature conservation, an entrance fee is charged for each visit to the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park. By buying a ticket, you become a park visitor and are covered by personal accident insurance. The Park may be visited individually or in groups. For organised groups (min. 15 persons), guided tours are provided; however, these must be confirmed in advance.
Guided tours through the Park are intended for visitors who wish to get to know a little more about Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and its salt-making tradition, apart from having a pleasant walk through it.
A guided tour through Lera lasts for at least one hour and a half, with the tour including a walk some two kilometres' long from the Entrance at Lera to the Visitor Centre and back. During the walk, the guide (a nature conservation supervisor) presents Sečovlje Salina Nature Park (flora, fauna, cultural heritage) and the salt-making procedure to the visitors. In the Visitor Centre, a short film is envisaged to be shown to the visitors, as well as a presentation of the water regime with an interactive scale model of the salt pans. From the scenic viewpoint platform, a panoramic view of the wider area of the Salina is also possible, while in the nearby restaurant, Solni Cvet (The Flower of Salt), drinks are served, as well as food on a preliminary agreement. At Lera, the shop "Lera" is located, where salt and other products associated with it can be purchased. Above the shop is a gallery where art works by acknowledged as well as lesser known artists are exhibited.
The Museum of Salt-making is located at Fontanigge along the Giassi Channel, where one of the four restored salt-pan houses with a museal collection and a salt-field with the appertaining inflow channel with seawater is located. The Museum of Salt-making offers a guided tour to visitors as well! The trail along the Dragonja River from the entrance gate to the Museum is about 2.5 km long (one way). The Museum can also be visited by "Solinarka" boat, by bike, by foot and (exceptionally) by bus.
Free for visitors - the Museum of Salt-making by bike
Upon entering the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park in the area Fontanigge are available 25 bikes for free hire. It takes 10 minutes by bike to the Museum.