Prešeren’s birth house is among the oldest houses in the village of Vrba. The original homestead was built in the 16th century. Its current form dates from 1856 when it was rebuilt following a fire which destroyed the straw roof and wooden outbuildings. After the fire, the roof of the house was raised to acquire an extra bedroom in the attic. Older building elements from the 16th century, such as the stone portal in the basement and building elements from the late baroque period, have been partially preserved. The most characteristic features are the building elements dating from the 19th century, which can also be seen in the other homesteads in Vrba and its surroundings.
Prešeren’s ancestors can be traced back to Vrba from the second half of the 17th century onwards. In the first half of the 18th century, the owner of the homestead was the poet’s great-grandfather, Jožef Prešeren (1688-1754), who was a serf of the Begunje mansion. He was followed by Jernej Prešeren (1762-1800), the poet’s grandfather and Simon Prešeren (1762-1837) the poet’s father, who in 1797 married Mina, nee Svetina (1774-1842) from Žirovnica. Together they had eight children: Jera, Katra, France, Jožef, Jurij, Mina, Urša and Lenka. The homestead was inherited by Mina, who in 1827 married Jožef Vovk from Črnivec near Brezje. The Prešeren’s family genealogy is carved on a large marble memorial plaque in the entrance hall.
On the initiative of France Prešeren’s compatriots, a memorial plaque at the outside wall of Prešeren’s birth house was unveiled on 15 September 1872 by the Slovenian Writers’ Association. The opening ceremony was attended by 6,000 people.
In 1937 the owner of the house, Marija Vovk – a widow following the death of her husband Janez Vovk – agreed to sign over the house to the state if it built a new house in the garden for the family. Two-thirds of all the funds needed to buy off and convert Prešeren’s birthplace into a museum were raised by school children. The campaign was led by the writer Fran Saleški Finžgar. Prešeren’s birth house was handed over to the Slovenian nation at a special ceremony on 21 May 1939. It is the first birth house of any important Slovenian person that has been converted into a museum. The house was slightly remodelled for the needs of the memorial and museum collections. The roof was covered with old hand-made tiles, while the black kitchen stayed intact and was equipped with old kitchen tools and dishes, and a new stove was placed in the main living area. The room is equipped with a maple table in the corner, benches, chairs, a spinning wheel, a chest, glass paintings and other objects from Prešeren’s time, some of which are original. Most of the items were collected by Finžgar from the nearby villages. You can still admire the original cradle in the bedroom where the poet was born. The smaller chest and matrimonial bed come from Finžgar’s birth house in Doslovče.
The former granary was converted into a gallery in 1985, where a collection of books, various reprints and translations of Prešeren’s poetry are exhibited. In 2000 the collection was supplemented by an exhibition on the life and work of Dr. France Prešeren. Several of the poet’s paintings are also on display (original paintings by Božidar Jakac and other artists, the poet’s large-scale portrait from 1908, the work of the painter Anton Čeh, Wagner’s lithograph from 1866, etc.). Prešeren’s birth house was declared a monument of national importance in 2011.
Prešeren’s birth house in Vrba is one of the attractions along the Žirovnica Path of Cultural Heritage, one of the oldest and most prominent theme paths in Slovenia. The path connects cultural and historic monuments along five core sites in the villages below Mt. Stol. These are Prešeren’s birth house in Vrba, Čop’s birth house in Žirovnica, Janša’s memorial apiary in Breznica and the birth houses of the writers Fran Saleški Finžgar in Doslovče and Janez Jalen in Rodine.
Guided tours of Prešeren’s house can be adapted to school groups, smaller groups, individuals or families. Janez, an expert on Prešeren’s times, will be delighted to take you on a journey that touches your soul.
School children: €2
Pre-school children: €1
Adult groups (more than 10 persons): €2.7