Slovenia’s Historic Towns and Cities

Statistics show that the large majority of people who visit Slovenia tend to do so for just a few days, either as just a mini-break or as part of a longer trip taking in some of the neighbouring countries. And for those limited in time, the focus is usually on the ‘usual’ tourist hot-spots i.e. Bled Lake, Ljubljana, Postojna Caves, Piran... However, in visiting just these, admittedly marvellous, places, you miss – in my opinion – a large swathe of the country and the chance to see the ‘real’ Slovenia.

Granted, I might be a bit biased since I’m fortunate to live in Radovljica, which has one of Slovenia’s best-preserved medieval old town centres and is a member of the Association of Historical Towns and Cities of Slovenia, but since Slovenia is a perfectly compact country, it is very easy to get around and make detours to other places of interest. So, sure, go to the usual tourist hotspots to tick them off the list, but do take time to see more of Slovenia’s countryside, culture and history too!

Looking over Radovljica and beyond to the Karavanke mountains

For example, if you are visiting Bled, then turn off the motorway (or get off the train or bus) just one stop early, and within minutes you will be in the historic old town centre of Radovljica where you can see, amongst others, the frescoed townhouses, the Baroque St. Peter’s Church, and the Šivec House Gallery.

Vidic House, just one of the frescoed buildings in the old town

The Radovljica Mansion is home to the Museum of Apiculture, the Municipal Museum, and a music school. During daylight hours the building is always open and visitors are welcome to go in and look at the photographic exhibitions in the entrance foyer.

The Radovljica Mansion

Don’t miss a visit to Lectar Inn where you can try traditional Slovenian food and downstairs visit the workshop with it’s 250-year tradition of making red-iced and decorated gingerbread hearts.

The Lectar gingerbread workshop

Radovljica also offers a wealth of great places to stroll, hike, cycle, do water sports, or partake in other active or less active pursuits. Or you can just sit on one of the benches at the viewing area and and soak up the views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica Plateau and the Sava River.

Looking back at the old town with majestic Mr. Stol in the background

And be sure to come hungry as you won’t want to miss the chance to taste some of the delicious locally-produced food at the 13 restaurants that collaborate in the Taste Radol’ca project.

In addition to Radovljica , there are a further 13 towns and cities included in the Association of Historical Towns and Cities of Slovenia – Idrija, Kamnik, Koper, Kostanjevica na Krki, Kranj, Metlika, Novo Mesto, Piran, Ptuj, Slovenske Konjice, Škofja Loka, Tržič and Žužemberk.

More information about Radovljica can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-area/ and more about the association here – http://www.zgodovinska-mesta.si/eng/index.php

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Jezersko, the Sava River and more…

A perfect to visit in the height of summer, when the heat is on, is Jezersko. This tranquil and picturesque part of Slovenia can feel a little cut-off, due to its somewhat remote location at the end of a long winding road which leads to the border with Austria. However, in reality its only just over 40km from where I live in Radovljica and takes under an hour to reach by car.

Jezersko’s 700 residents are scattered across its two parts – Lower (Spodnje) and Upper (Zgornje) Jezersko. It lies at 906m and is surrounded by the high peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. There area is a nature lovers dream with an abundance of outdoor things to do; hiking, cycling and climbing in the summer and skiing, sledging and skating in the winter. Lower Jezersko is predominantly residential whilst its upper part offers accommodation, tourist farms and other (limited) tourist facilities. The lake, Planšarsko jezero, is one of its most popular draws and is a popular place for family outings as well as being the start point for the numerous walks into the surrounding high peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

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Having recently done some work in relation to the new Ravenska Kočna Theme Path (http://ravenska-kocna.si/en/), and always on the look out for new and interesting places to walk, I wanted to go and see and try it for myself. The 8km path, which is fairly level throughout, passes through some stunning scenery and even having been in Slovenia for over 6 years, I was still silenced by its beauty as it traverses meadows and the Jezernica stream, before heading slightly uphill to the viewpoint at ‘Na prodih’. And what a view it is. Here is a photo I took, but it really doesn’t do it justice, so you can also read more about the path and see more photos here – http://ravenska-kocna.si/wp-content/uploads/Tabla1.pdf

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Also, along the path is the new Davo Karničar Mountain Lodge. A true Jezersko local, Davo Karničar is a climber and extreme skiier, as well as being the first man to ski from the summit of Everest in the year 2000, as well as having skiied from the 7 summits, the 7 highest mountains on each of the 7 continents. In short he’s a (Slovene) living legend. Despite all that he has achieved he has remained entirely down-to-earth and will more than happily brew you a tea or cook up some local specialities and can also offer advice on what to see and do in the area that he knows like the back of his hand. Accommodation at the lodge and guided tours can also be arranged.

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At the far end of Jezersko, you reach the Seeberg mountain pass (1218m), and former border, which leads into the town of Bad Eisenkappel (Železna Kapla) in Austria, which is just one of the many ways of reaching Austria from Slovenia.

Every August the Sheep Ball (Ovčji Bal) is held in Jezersko, which is a festival of all things ovine. The celebration of the indigenous Jezersko-Solčava breed of sheep, this year in its 55th year, include demonstrations of sheep shearing and other sheep related traditions, woollen related activities and the opportunity to purchase local handicrafts and dairy products.

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Elsewhere, the Sava River is a popular place to take a dip and cool down at this time of year, though it’s way too cold for me! In total the Sava river extends to 990 kilometres and flows through  Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Slovenia it comprises the Sava Dolinka and Sava Bohinjka which merge at the confluence in Radovljica. From Radovljica, there are many options for taking pleasant shady walks alongside the river or, for those brave enough, having a paddle in its shallower parts. A popular walk from Radovljica is to the Fux footbridge over the Sava river. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/lipnica-castle-natural-science-trail/

The hugely popular Avsenik Festival kicks off this week and runs from the 23rd – 25th August. The festival of popular folk music, this year celebrating its 60th year, is held at the Avsenik Restaurant in Begunje na  Gorenjskem and attracts huge audiences – http://www.avsenik.com/festival/en.asp