Experience Prešeren’s Day Along the Žirovnica Path of Cultural Heritage

Despite only living to the tender age of 49, the legacy of France Prešeren (1800-1849), Slovenia’s most famous poet, remains as strong today as ever. In fact, Prešeren was, or rather is, so important to Slovenian culture, that a national holiday is dedicated to him annually on 8th FebruaryPrešeren’s Day. 

Find out more about the life and times of Prešeren, as well as that of some of Slovenia’s other great literary writers, along the Walk along the Žirovnica Path of Cultural Heritage.

Although you can visit the attractions along the path year-round, it is a particularly special experience to do so on Prešeren’s Day, when you can join hundreds of others visitors, locals and those from further afield, to walk the path, find out more about life in Prešeren’s time, and feel a part of Slovenia’s cultural heritage.

The 10km circular path leads through the villages beneath Mt. Stol – the highest peak in the Karavanke range – taking in Prešeren’s birth house in the village of Vrba, where there is a car park and information board about the path.

Opposite the car park there is a bust statue of the great man.

In addition to visiting Prešeren’s birth house, you can continue to the birth houses of Prešeren’s friend, the linguist and literary historian Matija Čop in Žirovnica, the writer Fran Saleški Finžgar in Doslovče, and the writer and priest Janez Jalen in Rodine. All the houses offer a unique insight into life in bygone days and you can see exhibits including an original black kitchen.

For many a particular highlight is a visit to the apiary of Slovenia’s greatest beekeeper and the pioneer of modern apiculture, Anton Janša (1734-1773)in Breznica. It’s easy to find, just follow the brown signs marked with a bee!

The apiary was carefully reconstructed in 2017 and this year will be the focal point of this year’s first ever World Bee Day, which will take place in Breznica on 20th May.

At the time of writing, there’s no snow here in the valley, but that could, of course, change by 8th February! Either way, there’s never a shortage of people joining the walk on 8th February, and there is also a rich accompanying programme on the day for all – regardless of whether you take part in the organised walk or not. It includes free entrance to all the birth houses, stalls along the way offering local food and drink, a honey market in Vrba and small farmer’s market in Rodine, entrance to exhibitions, and more! Find the full programme here (in Slovene only) – http://visitzirovnica.si/pohod-po-poti-kulturne-dediscine-zirovnica-8-februar/

But don’t worry – if you can’t make it on 8th February, you can visit the birth houses and walk, all or some of, the trail independently or, to get the most out of it, on a guided tour. The best time to do so is every fourth Saturday in the month from March to October when guided visits to all four houses are available between 10am and 5pm. For a really special experience on this day you can visit the houses by taking a ride on a traditional horse and cart which begins at the car park in Vrba at set times.

The Visit Zirovnica website has more information about this and all the other attractions in the area.

Come and find out more about why France Prešeren is Slovenia’s equivalent to Shakespeare!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Radovljica Festival / Završnica Recreation Park

The Radovljica Early Music Festival began on Saturday 8th August and runs until Sunday 23rd August. There is a rich programme of concerts, workshops and masterclasses which take place in Radovljica Mansion and St. Peter’s Church. More details can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/radovljica-festival/83/260/ and also here – http://www.festival-radovljica.si/en/

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Leila Schayegh

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Phoenix Munich Ensemble

As much as I love hiking and cycling in the hilly and mountainous surroundings of Radovljica, there are the occasional times – such as when I’ve already hiked for 5 hours and am tired but don’t want to be at home when the weather is so beautiful – when a nice leisurely bike ride is called for. Fortunately, we have that here too!

So, on Friday, after the aforementioned 5 hour hike (more about that another time), I cycled to the Završnica Recreation Park in the Završnica Valley which, from home, takes less than 45 minutes, taking the route Radovljica – Lesce – Hraše – Rodine – Zabreznica – Žirovnica – Moste – Završnica, and then to the Zavrh bar which has lately become one of my favourites places to sit and enjoy a drink beside the cool of the Završnica stream.

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Chilling by the stream!

The reservoir is also the start point of the 2km-long Završnica Trim Trail which leads beside the stream to the Zavrh bar and onwards, making it perfect for these sultry hot days when the cool of the forest offers some respite from the heat.

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The Zavrsnica reservoir (and me!)

The Recreation Park also comprises a football field, a natural climbing wall and beach volleyball courts. The Završnica Valley is also an excellent starting point for mountain biking, and for hikes in the Karavanke mountains, such as to Stol, the highest mountain in the Karavanke, or to the ski slopes and the spring of the Završnica stream at Zelenica. Fishing and horse-riding are also popular activities in the valley.

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The new bridge connecting the trim trail

In winter there is a cross-country skiing area and, if the snow conditions are right, the road which leads up to the Valvasor mountain hut is turned into a sledging track. More information about the valley can be found here – http://www.zavrsnica.si/?id=50 (Slovene) or http://en.zirovnica.eu/home/ (English)

But it’s not time to be thinking about winter yet. Still more good weather ahead this week to enjoy….

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Snowy Hikes and Winter Bites!

It was a very chilly start to 2015 with temperatures midweek well into minus figures. Babno polje, which regularly measures the coldest temperatures in Slovenia, was minus 24 degrees, whilst Celje wasn’t far behind with minus 19. Here in Radovljica it was a (balmy!) minus 15! Fortunately, on Friday the polar temperatures subsided a little and the temperatures in some parts of the country even got into positive numbers during the day.

Having not strayed too far from home for a few days, due to the cold, snow and bitter wind, I was itching to get out and therefore was mighty pleased to be able to make the hike up to one of my favourite winter destinations, the mountain hut Roblek dom, located on the western slopes of mount Begunščica, part of the Karavanke range. The route up to the hut is popular all year round and can be approached from several directions, however, the safest and only really viable route when there is heavy snow, is to begin from the Draga valley and continue up to the hut at 1672m.

During the winter you may share the lower part of the path, the part which is on the road, with sledgers, before the path veers off, steeply in places, into the forest. Probably the reason it is such a popular destination is also the relative wideness and safeness of the path as it is not in an area prone to avalanches (I’m of course touching wood as I write this!), the path is well-trodden and you are rarely alone en-route or at the top; there’s always someone to pass the time of day with. However, it should be noted that at present the path is treacherously icy in places and a pair of small crampons really are a must. On reaching the hut, the thermometer showed +4 degrees, which is almost 20 degrees warmer than it had been in the valley during the previous few days so actually felt remarkably warm. I’m not usually the greatest at taking pictures but, if I say so myself, this one below (on the left) isn’t a bad effort – though of course these days the camera does most of the work and I can just ‘point and click’!

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During the festive season, it is a tradition in many households in Slovenia to construct nativity scenes made out of various materials such as wood and moss. In the village of Rodine, just a few kilometres from Radovljica, more precisely in Jalnova hiša (Jalen’s House), the birthplace of the Slovene writer and priest, Janez Jalen (1891-1966), an impressive displays of nativity scenes of all shapes and sizes is set up each year. These days the house also operates partly as a museum with an exhibition about his life and work, and it also forms part of the Žirovnica Route of Cultural Heritagehttp://www.zirovnica.eu/dozivetja/tematske-poti/pot-kulturne-dediscine/znamenitosti-na-poti/ (Slovene), OR http://en.zirovnica.eu/ (English).

The owner is more than happy to greet visitors and show them around. During this period, the exhibition is open daily for visitors, this year until 10th January (daily from 10am-6pm), so there is still time to visit. There is also a traditional black kitchen. Entrance is free.

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People often ask me if I ever run out of ideas for what to write about in my blog. Well, thankfully so far that hasn’t happened and I hope it won’t for a while yet. So, its onwards into another year and I hope you’ll continue to join me on the journey….

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015