The linden tree in the village of Vrba is more than 200 years old. Sixteen stones have been placed in an arrangement under its canopy. In bygone days, every master in Vrba had his own stone – this was the meeting place for the village elders who would traditionally meet under this tree to discuss village issues and to decide on important matters. They did not write down their agreements, yet what was agreed upon held good. A linden tree in the centre of the village is not a rare sight in Slovenia, however, the linden tree in Vrba is the only one with preserved stones
The statue of France Prešeren in Vrba is the first statue of the poet. It was made by the academic sculptor Franc Ksaver Zajec in 1865. For a long time the statue was believed to have been lost, however, it was found again in 1991. The plaster original was restored and four bronze casts were made. The monument with Zajec’s depiction of Prešeren in Vrba is the work of the sculptor Vasja Ulrich. It was unveiled on 3 December 2000, marking the 200th anniversary of the poet’s birth. It is placed in such a way that it welcomes every visitor to the village of Vrba.
The obelisk, the work of the architect Jože Plečnik, located in front of the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in the village of Breznica, is dedicated to the victims of the First World War. It was made by Alojzij Vurnik, a stonecutter from Radovljica, while the statue of St. Christopher is the work of the sculptor Boris Kalin. There are 54 names of the fallen engraved on the monument with an inscription by the writer Fran Saleški Finžgar. The monument was unveiled on 20 September 1931.
The surge tank above the village of Žirovnica, with its intriguing façade that can be seen from a great distance, was built in 1914 for the Završnica hydropower plant and later used by the Moste hydroelectric power station. Water from the Završnica reservoir flows into the 16-metre-high surge tank and flows out through a 900-metre-long pipe and into the engine room of the power plant. There are steps leading to the top of the water reservoir which serves as a magnificent viewpoint.
In his renowned work from 1912 ‘Brezniška pridiga’ (A Breznica Sermon), Tomo Zupan, a linguist that specialised in France Prešeren’s works, listed 120 remarkable men who were born in the parish of Breznica parish and who influenced Slovenian culture and science. The avenue of famous men, in front of Žirovnica primary school, unites five of the most famous among them. The busts of Anton Janša, Matija Čop, Dr France Prešeren, Franc Saleški Finžgar and Janez Jalen were created by the sculptors Zdenko Kalin, Jaka Torkar and Bojan Kunaver.
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The newly-opened Bee Paradise (Čebelji raj) in the hamlet of Selo in Žirovnica, is a great acquisition for Slovenian beekeeping, Slovenian tourism, the Municipality of Žirovnica, and last but not least, for Slovenia’s bees!
Bee Paradise is the brainchild of the president of the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, Bostjan Noč, who has been involved with beekeeping from an early age and is an exemplary example of a diligent and devoted ‘father’ to his numerous colonies of bees, as well as working tirelessly to preserve and promote beekeeping in Slovenia.
The statue of a hostage and twenty-nine monuments beside the road in the village of Moste serve as a memorial to the hostages that the Nazi German Gestapo brought from the nearby Begunje prison on 1 July 1942 and who were later shot. This act was in response to the action of the Partisan Cankar Battalion soldiers who had demolished two bridges in Moste just a few days earlier in order to cut-off the Third Reich from the railway line and road connection.
Stagne (a natural path or path to pasture) is a path or cart track of 800m in length that runs alongside a tree-lined lane of mostly oak and linden trees. Just two decades ago, villagers were still taking cattle to pasture through ’stagne’ – places where trees and bushes kept the cattle in one group and prevented them from destroying the ploughed fields. The second function of a ’stagne’ was that of a natural barrier for the village of Vrba, shielding it from strong winds – the Karavanke foehn wind.
’Stagne’ in Slovenia are disappearing and there are no others known to be remaining in the vicinity.
The story and artefacts found in excavations led by the archaeologist Milan Sagadin stir one’s imagination. The tomb of a young female that was buried with her jewellery is a particular mystery. Was this the remarkable Heathen Maiden? The bronze bird that is at the heart of the exhibition in Čop’s House does not provide the answer, however, it invites you to explore the rich heritage of our ancestors.
The Završnica hydroelectric power plant was the first Slovenian public power plant, laying a foundation for the public electricity grid in Slovenia over a 100 years ago. It supplied Slovenes with power for 90 years, however, today the Hydroelectric Power Plant Moste has taken over.
Today, the Završnica hydroelectric power plant has been converted into a technical museum, where you can learn about the process of generating power from a renewable source – water. There is also a very interesting comparison of over one hundred-year-old equipment with the modern installation of the Moste hydroelectric power plant.
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Life in the villages below Mt. Stol was once inseparably linked with the land on which people depended. Life took place in simple farmhouses, on fertile fields, orchards, stables, and, in summer, high in the mountains to where part of the family moved in order to take care of their cattle.
If you would like to see the items, accessories and tools that made people’s lives easier on a daily basis, visit the Museum of the Past in the village of Zabreznica. Marjan Nadižar, the owner of the museum, will be more than happy to show you around. The museum is open upon prior arrangement.
Villa rustica (a countryside villa) was the term used by the ancient Romans to denote a villa set in the open countryside, often as the hub of a large agricultural estate (latifundium). A villa rustica would thus serve both as a residence of the landowner and his family (and retainers) and also as a farm management centre. It would often comprise separate buildings to accommodate farm labourers and sheds and barns for animals and crops.
Villa rustica in Ključe in the village of Rodine is a characteristic archaeological site from the Roman period in the 2nd century. The rural Roman villa, surrounded by walls, comprised numerous residential and commercial buildings. The configuration of the site can still be seen in the ground.
St. Mark’s Church stands on the outskirts of the village of Vrba. It was first mentioned in 1468. Though it is a small and simple church, it has achieved near mythical status in Slovenia after it was mentioned in the sonnet ‘O Vrba’ by Slovenia’s greatest national poet, France Prešeren, whose birth house is located in the vicinity. It has Romanesque foundations, but the actual structure is gothic with an interesting apse, extensive gothic frescoes from the 15th and early 16th century on the interior walls which are preserved in fragments, a renovated wooden ceiling, and two gilded baroque altars. On the outside wall there are also relatively well-preserved frescoes of St. Christopher, the Crucifixion, and St. George fighting the dragon from the 15th century. In the porch is a bust of the archbishop Anton Vovk (1900–1963), great grandnephew of Prešeren, born in the same house in Vrba.
In January 2011, the church was proclaimed a cultural monument of national importance by the Government of Slovenia.
St. Lawrence’s church above the village of Zabreznica has a unique position and appearance. It stands on a cliff above Zabreznica from where there are magnificent views of the surrounding landscape. The church was positioned there as a viewpoint during the Turkish invasions. It was abandoned in 1821 when a new parish church was built in the nearby village of Breznica.
In the 1990s, local volunteers built a new church on the Romanesque foundations. The present-day appearance of the church is a reconstruction of the old gothic church. The interior is decorated with the Stations of the Cross, painted by the academic painter Janez Bernik, while the exterior is decorated with an image of St. Christopher – the patron saint of travellers, as well as a mosaic by the academic artist Andrej Jemc. A unique feature of St. Lawrence’s church is the presbytery which is painted with wild flowers that can be found around the church, the work of local artist Marija Smolej.
St. Clement’s church is located in the village of Rodine which used to be an important religious centre as in medieval times it was the seat of the parish, and later also the seat of the parish of Breznica. The church with a cemetery and enclosing walls is one of the oldest monuments of sacral architecture in this part of Gorenjska. There is evidence that a religious building was built on the site in the second half of the 10th century. Its Romanesque foundations date back to the 11th century. A later gothic structure burned down and the Baroque church seen today was built in 1692. The church was renovated in 1876 to repair extensive damage to the roof and spire.
There is a tomb under the church that allegedly contains the remains of St. Clement, who was tortured and killed in Crimea, Ukraine, and whose bones were found in Rodine. According to legend, Saints Cyril and Methodius are said to have brought the relics when travelling through Rodine to Rome with the mortal remains of St. Clement.
The church was first mentioned in 1468 as belonging to the diocese of Radovljica, but is an older building with Romanesque foundations, partly reflected in the shape of its nave and flat ceiling. Most of the remaining structure is from the mid-17th century. The bell tower, with its typical onion-shaped roof, is baroque. The distinct baroque altar dates back to the so-called era of gilt altars. The fresco of a pregnant Virgin Mary is a unique example of iconography.
On the southern wall there are frescoes of St. Radegund (the patron of potters and weavers) and St. Lawrence. St. Michael fighting a dragon is depicted on the northern wall and there is a baroque painting of St. Christopher on the southern exterior. There is evidence of a wall encircling the church, probably built in the 15th century, to protect local inhabitants against Turkish raids in the area. This was demolished in the 17th century, when the church was being rebuilt. A 1994 archaeological excavation around the church also revealed graves from the later period of Slavic settlement in the area.
The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows is one of the youngest churches in the Breznica parish. It was built in 1821, based on an architectural plan by the architect Blasio Zamolo from Gemona. Prior to that, the seat of the parish was in the village of Rodine. Franc Salezij Christian, a priest at the time, decided to build the church in the centre of the parish and had it measured for those purposes, which is why a new church was built in Breznica. The church is painted with classical frescoes. The large marble altar is the work of three masters: Janez Vurnik, Janez Vurnik Jr. and Franc Ksaver Zajec. A unique feature of the church is the baptistery, created by the famous Slovene architect Jože Plečnik.
St. Cantius’ church was first mentioned in 1468 and is a baroque structure with a belfry from 1764, but there is evidence that it replaced an earlier Romanesque structure. Fragments of 15th-century frescoes remain on the southern wall. A unique feature of this church is its fresco of St. George killing a dragon. The main altar is consecrated to St. Cantius, and one of the side altars to St. Anthony the Great with the folk name Anton Kračman, the patron of livestock farmers and butchers. On the feast day of St. Anthony the Great, farmers used to bring pork legs and sausages into the church and ask the saint to bless their livestock with health. Those delicacies were then sold at auction, and any unsold meat was given away to the poor.
St. Martin’s Church in the village of Moste is one of the oldest and most beautiful sacral jewels in Slovenia and the oldest sacral structure in the Breznica parish. The church dates back to the pre-Romanesque era. It is a single-aisle church with late gothic features and frescoes on the interior dating to 1430. The most important depicts the martyrs death of the apostles. Following completion of this work, the author of the fresco became known as the “Žirovnica master”. The altar dates to 1638 and the other church furnishings are from the 19th century. Around the church evidence of a burial ground from late Antiquity and the period of early Slavic settlement has also been discovered and the area has been officially protected as an archaeological monument.