The Kuželjska stena forest reserve
It covers the edge of a picturesque, precipitous slope offering a great view of the Kolpa River canyon. A special feature is a natural wall window accessible by the Kočevje mountain hiking trail and the Kostel mountain trail.
It is one of the most dominant walls in the upper Kolpa valley standing on the tectonic fault. It is 874 m high and offers an excellent view of the upper Kolpa valley and peaks of Gorski Kotar. The wall represents a geo-morphologic natural heritage with sites and habitats of rare and endangered as well as protected plant and animal species. It was named after Kuželj (the people from Kostel call it Koželj), a settlement located below it, and founded some 500 years ago. The Kuželjska stena area is a growing site of rare and endangered plants. The most interesting endangered plant is Centaurea rupestris, a bright yellow blooming representative of Illyrian flora. This is the first site in the Kočevska region and the Predinaric and Dinaric world. The forest, overgrowing the wall, is a protective beech hop hornbeam and oak forest in shallow, extremely south and dry sites. Thus, these forests have a great level of fire hazard. The edge of Kuželjska stena is protected as the Stružnica forest reserve covering some 6 ha. It was conserved to protect the wall edges and due to its special ecosystems and floristic features. The forest reserve is completely left to its natural development – the felling, hunting, plant gathering, pollution and campfires are prohibited.
Due to its extreme and exceptional habitat, there live the animal species which are extremely rare in Slovenia and even in the Kočevska region. The walls provide nesting sites for the peregrine falcon and also the golden eagle. Both species are included on the list of endangered and thus protected animals. The nature has created a magnificent opening in the wall, i.e. Kuželjsko okno. It is approximately 7 meters high with a beautiful natural bridge spanning over it. It is a splendid natural form worth admiring. Kuželjsko okno is the most beautiful experience of every hiker on the Kostel mountain trail. In the gorge above Kuželj the specially carved stones in the shape of bells need to be mentioned, i.e. Veliki and Mali turn, as well as the rock formation and bear’s den beneath Kuželjska stena. Veliki turn is a true natural rarity.