Baltske države in Helsinki – Litva

Baltske dežele so nam precej nepoznane dežele pa tudi obiskujemo jih prav poredko. Vendar pa so te dežele vse prej kot nezanimive. Vse so si zelo podobne in obenem toliko različne, da pri vožnji skozi države ne začutimo monotonije. Relief je precej podoben. Tega, da je proti severu relief bolj razgiban, da je pokrajina golj gozdnata ali manj naseljena skoraj ne opazimo. Vsa tri glavna mesta imajo lepo ohranjena in urejena stara mestna jedra. In prav ta stara mestna jedra in še nekatera druga mesta, ki so razpršena po državah so tista, ki privabijo največ obiskovalcev.

Trakai

Grad in mesto Trakai v litvanski zgodovini zasedata posebno mesto. Mesto je eno starejših v državi in datira v 12. stoletje. Verjetno je bilo glavno mesto države za čas velikega kneza Gediminasa. Ko je Vilnius pridobival na pomembnosti, je Trakai izgubljal. Uničili so ga Kozaki na vojnem pohodu Rusov leta 1655. Trakai je poznan po malih in slikovitih lesenih hišah, ki ležijo ob jezeru nasproti gradu ter gradu samem, ki leži na enem od 21 otočkov na jezeru Galve. V obnovljenem gradu je urejen muzej, ki skozi izkopane predmete in slike prikazuje zgodovino gradu in mesta.

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Grad Trakai

Vilnius

Vilnius je največje mesto v Litvi in njeno glavno mesto. Litva je nacionalno veliko bolj homogena kot ostali dve Baltski državi, vendar to ne velja za Vilnius. V mestu živijo Litvanci, ki so v večini, pa tudi številčne manjšine Poljakov, Židov in Rusov. Središče mesta je zaščiteno in je na UNESCO-vem seznamu kulturne in naravne dediščine. Židovska četrt ni več tisto, kar je bila nekoč. Staro mesto je bolj ali manj nedotaknjeno. Mesto ima velik nabor baročnih stavb, ki so se razvile skozi skoraj dve stoletji. Ko je Litva leta 1991 postala neodvisna, je Vilnius ponovno postal glavno mesto države.

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Razgled iz Gediminasovega hriba na stari del mesta

Mesto je locirano na skrajnem jugo-vzhodu države. Ima 580.000 prebivalcev, ki so razpršeni po predmestju. Mesto sestavljata dva dela: Staro mesto, ki je glede na standarde tistega časa zelo veliko in leži na sotočju rek Vilnius in Neris. Danes se na severu stika z Novim mestom, ki so ga začeli graditi v 19. stol.

Glede na legendo, je mesto leta 1323 ustanovil veliki knez Gediminas, prednik dinastije, ki je več kot 250 let vladala združeni Litvi in Poljski. Zgodba pravi, da se je Gediminas po lovu odločil postaviti tabor tam, kjer Vilnius priteče v Neris in se ne vrniti v grad Trakai. Ko je zaspal, je imel čudne sanje o velikem železnem volku na hribu nad njim, kateri je divje tulil skupaj s še 100 volkovi. Poganski duhovnik je te sanje razumel kot sporočilo bogov, da naj Gediminas na mestu, kjer je videl volkove zgradi mesto. To mesto naj bi tako zraslo, da bi njegovo ime tuljenje volkov poneslo okoli celotnega sveta.

Kasneje je na tam res zrastel grad in pod njim mesto. Od obširnega kompleksa gradu se je do danes ohranil Zgornji grad na Gediminasovem hribu in del spodnjega gradu, ki je bil v 16. stoletju preurejen v palačo za Sigmunda st. in postal rezidenca Litovskih knezov. Pod Zgornjim gradom se nahajata Stari in Novi Arsenal, ki danes gostita Narodni muzej Litve, Arheološko zbirko in Muzej uporabnih umetnosti.

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Zgornji grad

Katedrala stoji na mestu bivšega poganskega verskega centra, ki je originalno ležal znotraj fortifikacij Sopdnjega gradu. Po navideznem pokristjanjenju kralja Mindaugasa okoli 1251 so na tem mestu zgradili prvo cerkev. Ko se je ljudstvo vrnilo k poganski veri  je bil poganski tempelj postavljen v prvotno stanje, toda bil je odstranjen, ko je Litva 1387 sprejela krščansko vero in se združila s Poljsko. Pod Vytautasom velikim je bila zgrajena velika gotska opečnata cerkev, ki je kraljevala stoletja. Med 1783 in 1801 je bila skoraj popolnoma preurejena in obnovljena.

Najpomembnejši del stare katedrale je kapela sv. Casimirja z njegovim sarkofagom. Sv. Casimir je bil pravnuk Barbare Celjske. Na sliki, ki se nahaja v kapeli sv. Casimira, je sv Casimir upodobljen s tremi rokami. V dveh drži rožo. Po legendi naj bi se slikar, ki je naslikal sliko med delom premislil in roko narisal v drugi poziciji. Staro je hotel prekriti, kar je naredil večkrat, vendar se je skozi barvo znova in znova pokazala roka. Slikar je mislil, da je to čudež in na koncu pustil sliko s tremi rokami.

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Katedrala sv. Stanislava in Ladislava

Prostrani trg pred katedralo je Katedralski trg.  Od leta 1996 tam stoji spomenik velikemi knezu Gediminasu. Boljšega prostora ne bi mogli najti, kajti stoji v bližini, kjer je sanjal o svojih volkovih. Prikazan je z mečem v svoji levi roki, kar nakazje, da je preferiral diplomacijo pred vojno, čeprav se je v resnici za dosego svojih ciljev posluževal obeh.

Glavna točka trga pa je stolp, kombinacija zvonika in ure. Okrogli stolp je bil zgrajen v 14. stoletju in je bil del fortifikacije Spodnjega gradu ter je edini del Spodnjega gradu, ki je ostal do danes. V 1520-ih je postal del katedrale, v 17. stoletju je bil dodan urni mehanizem, ki se je ohranil do danes.

Predsedniška palača je bila v 14. stoletju zgrajena kot Škofovska palača. Za čas ruske vladavine je bila preurejena za namen bivanja ruskih guvernerjev in generalov. Takoj po osamosvojitvi pa francoska ambasada. Leta 1997 so jo ponovno obnovili in preuredili v predsedniško palačo. Nasproti palače se nahaja zgradba univerze. Zgradba je daleč največja in najbolj prominentna v Starem mestu. Pomembno vlogo v mestu igra že od 1570, čeprav je imela velikokrat težave, predvsem z Rusi ozirom Sovjeti, ki so vplivali na njen program, med leti 1832 in 1919 je bila celo zaprta, za časa Sovjetske zveze pa močno nadzorovana, program pa je bil prirejen leninistični dogmi. 17 zgradb se razteza okoli 17 dvorišč, zgrajena je bila v različnih obdobjih z veliko mero estetike. Univerza vključuje več zgradb oziroma inštitucij: univerzitetno knjižnico, astronomski observatorij, knjigarno, Center za litvanske študije, jezikoslovni oddelek, cerkev sv. Janeza, univerzitetni muzej znanosti in stolp.

Na vzhodnem delu Gediminasovega hriba ob Sereikiškes parku stoji Bernardinska cerkev sv. Frančiška in Bernardina zgrajena v 16. stoletju na mestu pogorele cerkve. Bernardinci so V Vilnius prišli leta 1469. Za tisto obdobje je bila nenormalno velika. Je dvoranska cerkev in ima nekaj detajlev pozne gotike. Danes za cerkev skrbijo Frančiškani. Cerkev sv. Ane je manjša in lepše ohranjena. Sprednja fasada je brez dvoma najmogočnejša v Litvi. Nič manj kot 33 različnih oblik opeke je vgrajenih v to gotsko fasado. Na pogled je simetrična, dvakrat višja kot je široka. Ljudje nikoli niso izvedeli za njeno točno funkcijo, niti kdo jo je zgradil in niti kdaj. Napoleon, ko je bil na svojem pohodu skozi Litvo, je rekel, da če cerkev ne bi bila tako velika, bi jo na dlani odnesel v Francijo.

Poleg stavb, je kot posebnost Vilne treba omeniti tudi Republiko Užupis, predel mesta, ki je star približno štiristo let, nastal je v 16. stoletju. Bil je prvi del Vilne, ki je zrastel zunaj mestnega obzidja. Nekdaj je bil Užupis znan po mlinarstvu in bordelih, kasneje postal najrevnejši predel mesta pa tudi dom umetnikov. Danes Užupis velja za najprestižnejšo četrt, vendar ostaja center nekonvencionalnih idej. Ne samo, da imajo svoje prometne znake, imajo tudi svojo ustavo, predsednika, ministre in ambasadorja v Moskvi ter svoje praznike. Najbolj priljubljen je 1. april, dan neodvisnosti. Na ta dan lahko od straže na meji v potni list dobite republiške žige. Leta 1997 so umetniki razglasili neodvisnost in ustanovili samostojno državo. V njihovi ustavi piše med drugim tudi: ljudje imajo pravico umreti, vendar to ni dolžnost; ljudje imajo pravico biti nepomembni in nepoznani; pes ima pravico biti pes; ljudje imajo pravico biti narobe razumljeni; človek ima pravico živeti ob reki (Vilnia) in reka ima previco teči ob človeku; človek ima pravico skrbeti za psa dokler eden od njiju ne umre itd.

Obala Baltskega morja je poznana po jantarju, ki ga naplavlja morje. Jantar je že stoletja pomembna naravna dobrina za vse tri Baltske države in tudi ruski Kalingrad. Jantar je fosilizirana smola, ki se je tisočletja izločala iz borovih dreves Pinus Succinifera. Najden jantar ima različne oblike, od oblike kapljic medu, do velikosti jajc ali glave. Najbolj vreden jantar je tisti, v katerem je kakšen komar ali druga žuželka. Najbolj vreden je kos jantarja, v katerem je kuščar. Le-tega lahko vidimo v galeriji Gintaro.

Jantar v galeriji Gintaro

Jantar v galeriji Gintaro

Mestna hiša se prvič omenja 1432. Danes se uporablja za reprezentativne, protakolarne namene, predvsem med obiskom tujih predstavnikov in vladarjev. V njej so bili George W. Bush in kraljica Elizabeta II.

Mestni trg se nahaja na koncu Ulice Pilies. Ulica se šteje za najstarejšo v mestu. Včasih je bila to glavna cesta, ki je povezovala grad kot glavno mesto države z južnimi deželami (poljska in Rusija) in se je kasneje (omanja se leta 1530), z rastjo mesta, spremenila v glavno ulico v mestu. Ob ulici so si plemiči in bogati meščani zgradili svoje rezidence. Univerza v Vilniusu je zasedla celotno četrt ob ulici in v ulici so živeli profesorji.

Mestni trg je tradicionalni prostor za dogodke in tržnice v Vilni. Največji semenj, ki se odvija na trgu je Kaziukasov sejem, glavno božično drevo stoji na tem trgu, različni koncerti, državna praznovanja in prireditve ob obiskih pomembnih državnikov se odvijajo na trgu preko celega leta. Do začetka 20. stol. je bil trg obkrožen s trgovinicami. Z razvojem mesta, se je število trgovcev in trgovin povečevalo. Večina od njih je prodajala sol, železo in meso. Teh trgovin zaradi strogih predpisov ni bilo možno prodajati, donirati ali kakor koli drugače prenašati lastništvo. Tudi trgovanje na trgu je bilo močno regulirano. Židi so imeli prepoved prodajati meso, niso smeli postavljati mesnic niti na trgu, niti v ulici Vokiečiu. Bilo je t udi prepovedano kupiti izdelke na ulici in jih kasneje prodati v trgovini za višjo ceno, še posebej, če je bilo takrat pomanjkanje kakega od izdelkov. Vse kršitve so se kaznovale z denarn kaznijo, zaporom in zaplenitvijo obrti. Zaplenjeno so podarili raznim beguncem in bolnišnicam.

Vrata Zore so bila včasih del mestne fortifikacije, ena od 9 vrat v mesto in edina, ki so se ohranila. Kapelo nad vhodnim obokom so zgradili leta 1671, posvečena je bila devici Mariji. Videti jo je mogoče skozi odprto okno. mašo v kapeli lahko spremljamo vsak dan, lahku tudi iz ulice. Zgornji del ulice je bil mišljen kot cerkev na prostem. Domačini verjamejo, da je Marija zaslužna za nekaj čudežev, ki so se zgodili.

Kaunas

Kaunas je drugo največje mestno v Litvi in tretje največje v Baltskih državah. Ima okoli 450.000 prebivalcev. Leta 1920 je postal glavno mesto Litve in to ostal naslednjih 20 let. V mestu so muzeji in glaerije državne pomembnosti.

Staro mesto ni tako obsežno kot tisto v Vilni, vendar se vseeno lahko pohvali z izjemno arhitekturo in nekaterimi izjemnimi zgradbami zgrajenimi iz rdeče opeke in kremastimi fasadami cerkva, ki so zbrane okoli glavnega trga. Vzhodno od trga teče nakupovalna ulica Laisves. V tej ulici je polno restavracij, kavarn in trgovin. Novo mesto zaznamujejo zgradbe, zgrajene v modernističnem in Art deco stilu. S tem so hoteli narediti Kaunas pomembnega in vrednega svoje vloge v državi, biti glavno mesto države.

Kaunas je predstavljal eno od litovskih utrdb, ki so branile južno mejo pred rednimi vpadi teutonskih vitezov. Po bitki pri Žalgirisu, so se vitezi umaknili in mesto se je začelo širiti in bogateti na osnovi trgovine. Zraslo je ob reki Nemunas, kar je mesto povezalo z mrežo pomembnih trgovskih poti. Kaunas je postal tudi pomembno katoliško središče. V seminariju so izučili mnogo narodnih duhovnih vodij. Po prvi svetovni vojni, ko je Kaunas postal glavno mesto Litve, se je spremenil v veliko gradbišče in je postal izložba moderne arhitekture. V začetku drugr svetovne vojne je Kaunas zgubil svojo politično pomembnost, vendar za čas Sovjetske zveze ostal mesto, kjer se je govorilo litvansko. V tem mestu se je leta 1972 zažgal študent Romas Kalanta, ko je protestiral proti nadvladi Sovjetske zveze.

V centru mesta je Mestni trg, ki ga obkrožajo pastelno pobarvane hiše bogatih trgovcev iz 15. in 16. stoletja Na trgu dominira Mestna hiša s 53 m visokim stolpm. Zgradba datira v 16. stoletje vendar ima baročno podobo. V svoji zgodovini je bila uporabljena kot pravoslavna cerkev, gasilski dom, skladišče streliva, zabavišče, gledališče, oddelek univerze, trgovsko združenje, magistrat podzemni zapor in sedež župana. Danes je v njej poročna dvorana in Muzej keramike, kjer si lahko ogledate dela nekaterih modernih umetnikov. Na severni strani trga je Muzej farmacije, kjer si lahko ogledate rekonstrukcijo lekarne iz 19. stol. V njej hranijo prašek proti epilepsiji iz glav mrličev, tinkturo »venerinih las« za povečanje očarljivosti in Erektosan, zeliščni pripravek za izboljšanje moške vitalnosti. 

Na zahodni strani trga, za Mestno hišo se nahaja cerkev sv. trojice iz začetka 17. stoletja, zgrajena v kombinaciji renesančne in gotske arhitekture. Za cerkvijo leži skupina kremasto pobarvanih zgradb, ki pripadajo bernardinskemu seminariju, tradicionalno najbolj pomembnemu katoliškemu učilišču v Litvi in glavni center intelektualnega upora proti carizmu v letih pred prvo svetovno vojno. Na trgu stoji kip v spomin enemu od najbolj pomembnih rektorjev Jonasu Mačiulisu Maironisu (1862-1932), entuziastični patron litvanske kulture, ki je tudi napisal lirično pesnitev Glasovi pomladi, v kateri opeva svojo domovino. So eni največkrat prebranih verzov v Litvi. Za njegovim spomenikom je hiša, v kateri je Maironis živel, ko je bil rektor. V hiši je danes Muzej literature. V pritličju je prikazan kronološki razvoj litvanske literature. V zgornjem nadstropju je odlično ohranjeno stanovanje z lepo ohranjenim pohištvom. Južno od Maironisove hiše stoji še Muzej športa, ki prikazuje popolnoma drugačno stran narodne kulture in zgodovine. Fotografije košarkarskih ekip in zlatih olimpijcev, metalec diska Romas Ubartas (Barcelona 1992) in Virgilius Alekna (Sydney 2000 in Atene 2004). Hranijo tudi različne spominke, ki so jih dobili litvanski športniki na mednarodnih tekmovanjih.

V nasprotnem vogalu trga stoji katedrala sv. Petra in Pavla iz rdeče opeke. Datira v čas vladanja Vytautasa velikega (15. stoletje), do danes je bila večkrat obnovljena. Skupno je v cerkvi, skupaj z glavnim, ki ga krasi kip, 9 oltarjev. Katedrala je zadnji dom dveh pomembnih litvancev: pesnika in rektorja semenišča Maironisa in škofa Motiejusa Valančiusa (1801-1875), ki je med caristično prohibicijo tiskanja knjig v litvanskem jeziku le-te tiskal v tujini in jih ilegalno distribuiral po Litvi. Njegov spomenik stoji na Mestnem trgu pred semeniščem. Na zunanji steni je Maironisov nagrobni kamen.  Nekaj stoletij pred izgradnjo katedrale, je bil zgrajen grad. Malo je znanega o tem, kaj je stalo na tem mestu pred izgradnjo kamnitega gradu. Prvi kamniti grad je bil zgrajen v 13. stoletju. Teutonski vitezi so ga na svojem križarskem pohodu leta 1362 poškodovali. Kmalu po obnovi so Teutonski vitezi izgubili svojo zadnjo bitko z združenimi poljsko-litvanskimi silami pri Žalgirisu in grad je začel počasi propadati. Nekatere zgradbe so bile v 18. stoletju uporabljene kot zapor. Obnovljenih je samo nekaj delov obzidja in stolp.

Grad Kaunas

Grad Kaunas

Zraven je impresivna gotska cerkev sv. Jurija iz 15. stoletja. Cerkev je bila zgrajena za bernardinske menihe. Cerkev je dvakrat uničil požar, nakar je bila notranjost obnovljena v baročnem stilu. Cerkev so poškodovali tudi Rusi v 17. stoletju in leta 1812 napoleonova vojska, ki so jo uporabili kot skladišče.

Od trga proti reki je hiša Perkunas, hiša iz rdeče opeke s hišnim čelom iz začetka 16. stoletja. Bila naj bi kjer so se trgovci Hanseatske lige sestajali na srečanjih  ali mogoče tudi jezuitska kapela, zgrajena na posvečenem mestu Perkunasa, poganskega boga groma (njegov kip so našli tu v 19. stoletju). Za čas Sovjetske zveze je bila uporabljena kot skladišče, danes je zopet last jezuitov. Nižje ob reki stoji Vytautusova cerkev. Zgradil jo je Vytyutas veliki, potem ko so se leta 1413 v Svetem rimskem imperiju odločili, da ozemlje na desnem bregu Nemunasa pripada (na veliko jezo Teutonskih vitezov) Veliki vojvodini Litvi. V času svojega obstoja je služila raznim funkcijam kot so skladišče orožja ali regovina krompirja in tudi, kot mnogo litvanskih cerkva, pravoslavno svetišče. Leata 1930 so v steno vgradili medaljon, ki spominja na 500 obletnico smrti Vytautasa.

Preden se začne Laisves aleja je sredi parka bivša predsedniška palača, ki je služila svojemu namenu v obdobju, ko je bil Kaunas glavno mesto Latvije. Danes je v njem muzej o štirih medvojnih predsednikih: Antanas Smetona (prvi predsednik 1919-20, 1926-40), Jonas Staugaitis (1926), Aleksandras Stulginskis (drugi predsednik 1920-26) in Antanas Merkys (1940). Skupaj je bilo v medvojnem času 7 predsednikov. Smetona je bil na predsedniškem stolu najdlje in tudi njegova zbirka v muzeju je največja. Najbolj spoštovana relikvija v muzeju je košarkarska nagrada za zmago na evropskem prvenstvu iz leta 1939. Nasproti palače je cerkev sv. Gertrude. Cerkev iz rdeče opeke je bila zgrajena v 14. stoletju. Laisves aleja je 1,6 km dolga ulica, kjer se nahajo hoteli, restavracije, muzeji, kavarne in druge za državo pomembne inštitucije. Do leta 2000 je bilo na tej ulici prepovedano kaditi, vendar so mestne oblasti popustile interesom ljudi. Na začetku Laisves aleje je Zoološki muzej. Za muzejem je Sinagoga, ki je ostala edino židovsko svtišče v mestu. Zraven je glavna pošta. Nasproti je mestni vrt, v katerem je Glasbeno gledališče, Lutkovno gledališče, stari stolp in ostanki mestnega obzidja. Na mestnem vrtu je 14.5.1972 študent Romas Kalanta naredil samomor z zažigom v protest proti sovjetski prevladi. Dejanje je sprožilo obsežne proti-sovjetske demonstracije, rezultat je bil 500 zaprtih ljudi. V spomin na Kalantovo dejanje je v parku postavljen spomenik »Področje žrtvovanja«. Nasproti mestnega vrta je na trgu spomenik Vytautasu velikemu, velikemu vojvodi iz 15. stoletja, ki je prestavil meje Litve vse do Črnega morja. Za spomenikom se nahaja Filharmonična dvorana, kjer je zasedal litvanski parlament (Seimas) med 1919 in 1926.

Če pri vodnjaku zavijemo levo, pridemo do Trga enotnosti in Vojaškega muzeja. Spomenik na trgu predstavlja Svobodo, ki gleda proti večnemu ognju. Muzej je siva, oglata medvojna zgradba dokončana 1937. Meči, ježevke in modeli utrjenih trdnjav prikazujejo vojaško moč srednjeveške Litve, medtem ko je boj za neodvisnost med leti 1918 in 1929 prikazan z zbirko uniform in orožja. Muzej služi tudi kot mesto spomina na litvanska pilota Dariusa in Girenasa, katera sta umrla v letalski nesreči na čezoceanskem letu. Prikazane so slike iz njune zadnje večerje v New Yorku, raztrgane in krvave obleke in letalo Lituanica, ki izgleda bolj kot inštalacija moderne umetnosti. Darius in Girenasa sta litvanska pilota, ki sta se v zgodnjih letih preselila v ZDA in se kot pilota borila v WW1. Darius je hotel brez postanka leteti iz New Yorka do Kaunasa. S pomočjo denarja litvanske skupnosti v New Yorku sta kupila rabljeno letalo in ga poimenovala Lituanica. Vzletela sta 15.7.1933 in samo po dveh dneh strmoglavila v vzhodnem pruskem gozdu. Vzrok nesreče je neznan. Ljudje so jih z dobrodošlico čakali na letališču v Kaunasu. Ko jo prišla novica do njih, se je žalovanje hitro razširilo po celotni državi. Postala neke vrste mučenika. Del iste zgradbe je tudi Umetnostni muzej M.K. Čiurlionisa. Razstavljena so dela največjega litvanskega umetnika. Bil je slikar in skladatelj. Za muzejem M.K. Čiurlionisa je Hudičev muzej. Razstavljena so različna dela (2000 kosov) litvanske umetnosti, zgodovine in etnografski predmeti, ki so kakor koli povezani s hudičem ali njemu podobni. Vse so povezane s hudičem, podarili so jih različni umetniki iz celotnega sveta. Hitler in Stalin, uprizorjena kot hudiča plešeta na Litvi, izdelani iz lobanj. Na vzhodnem delu aleje je cerkev sv. Mihaela nadangela. Originalno je bila pravoslavna cerkev, ki jo je v 1880-ih zgradil caristični garnizon. Neo-baročna cerkev je tudi kasneje ohranila povezavo z vojsko. Med prvo svetovno vojno je bila protestantska cerkev nemške vojske, ki je po vojni postala katoliška cerkev litvanske vojske. Revno okrašena notranjost je posledica dejstva, da je bila cerkev za čas Sovjetske zveze umetnostna galerija.

Hrib križev

Hrib križev je majhen hrib, posejan s tisoči križev: majhnih in velikih, dragih in cenenih, lesenih ali železnih. Večji križi so okrašeni z desetinami manjših križev, na majhne križe je privezana vrvica, s katero so obešeni na velike križe. Nekateri so čisto enostavni, drugi pa so prave umetniške stvaritve. Nekateri so spominski, na njih so slike ali razni napisi, na nekaterih so samo kakšna verska sporočila.

Hrib križev

Hrib križev

O tem, kako se je na tem hribu nabralo toliko križev, kroži veliko legend. Nekateri trdijo, da so jih postavile užaloščene družine in hrabri vojaki v treh dneh in treh nočeh v veliki bitki. Drugi povejo, da se je vse začelo, ko je raztresen oče v velikem boju z boleznijo svoje hčere postavil križ na vrhu. Pogani govorijo o svetem požaru, ki je bil začet tukaj in ki so ga vzdrževale nebeške device.

Originalno je bila tu fortifikacija, 8 do 10 m visok hrib je bil grad, ki so ga Livonci omenjali v 1348. Kmalu zatem so ga uničili križarji. Očitno je bilo tukaj že za časa poganstva neke vrste sveto mesto, ki so ga pogani častili, ali pa je bilo sveto mesto litvanskih zgodnjih krščanov. Križe so začeli postavljati na tem mestu v 14. stoletju, potem pa šele v proti-ruskem uporu letih 1831 in 1863-64 v spomin na umrle ali deportirane v Sibirijo. Tako je postal hrib simbol trpljenja, upanja in neustavljive volje Litvancev. Fotografije kažejo, da je bilo ob koncu 19. stoletja tam 130 križev.

Za časa Sovjetov, so bili križi simbol ne samo krščanstva, ampak tudi litvanskega nacionalizma. Razlog za postavitev križa na hrib, je bila aretacija KGB-ja. V 1950-ih so se ljudje tukaj zbrali in postavili križ vsem tistim, ki jih je Stalin poslal v Sibirijo.

Hrib je bil zbuldožiran vsaj trikrat. Leta 1961 je Rdeča armada uničila križe, zprla cesto in pešpoti, ki so vodile na hrib. Leseni križi so bili zažgani, kovinski pa pretaljeni. To je bil razlog, da so tu postavili še več križev. Sovjeto so našli vsak, še tako majhen razlog, da so podrli in uničili križe, vendar Litvanci so jih vedno znova zaželi postavljati in jih postavili še več. Po padcu komunizma se je število križev še vedno povečevalo. Začeli so jih postavljati ljudje iz vsega sveta. Danes se dnevno pojavljajo novi križi. Hrib res izgleda kot gost gozd križev.

Predsoba /Anteroom

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Plunge to Neretva river in Mostar

This is how a plunge in to the river Neretva in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina looks like. Mostar

Promotional video of Lake Bled



Češki Krumlov

Češki Krumlov je eno najlepših mest v Evropi, z dobro ohranjenim zgodovinskim centrom, ki je bil leta 1992 uvrščen na seznam UNESCO-ve svetovne dediščine. Ime izhaja iz Krumben Ouwe, kar pomeni trata v obliki kljuke, kasneje se je ime toliko spremenilo, da smo dobili današnji Krumlov. Grad je drugi največji na Češkem, takoj za Praškim gradom ter prav tako dominanten na hribu nad reko Vltavo. Mesto je postalo zelo skomercializirano z velikim številom trgovin s steklom in porcelanom ter raznimi spominki in oblekami, bari in restavracijami, ki jih obiskujejo v glavnem avstrijski in nemški turisti.

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Grad Češki Krumlov

Legenda pravi, da v srednjem veku na mestu, kjer je danes Krumlov ni bilo ne mesta niti gradu. Po dolini Vltave so bili samo temni gozdovi. V teh gozdovih so se skrivali roparji, imenovani Lotri. Oropali so vsakega trgovca, ki je iz Avstrije tod mimo prečkal proti notranjosti Češke. Nekega dne herojski vitez Vitek odkrije njihovo skrivališče in ga zažge. Na tem mestu so zgradili grad, da bo večno stražil pot ob Vltavi, v spomin na Lotre pa so poimenovali najdaljšo ulico v mestu, ki vodi iz starega dela mesta na drugo stran reke pod gradom. Poimenovana je Latran.

Zgodovinsko gledano pa začetek izgradnje gradu ob Vltavi sega v konec 13. stol. Tod mimo je vodila pomembna pot iz Avstrije v Bohemijo. V letu 1302 so postali lastniki gradu Rosenbergi. Pod njimi se je začel gospodarski razvoj mesta. Graditi so začeli nove cerkve, samostane in hiše. Nov zakon je dovoljeval izgradnjo novih trgov, odpiranje novih obrtniških delavnic ter trgovanje s sosednjimi mesti. To je trajalo do leta 1601, ko so morali posestvo prodati cesarju Rudolfu II. Habsburškemu. Cesar Rudolf II. ga je dal svojemu sinu. Med 1719 in 1945 je grad pripadal Schwarzenbergom. Večina arhitekture mesta in gradu je iz obdobja med 14. in 17. stol., večinoma gotika, renesansa in barok. Center mesta leži na zavoju Vltave, z manjšim delom (Latran) tudi na drugi strani reke pod gradom. Mesto je postalo del Avstrijskega imperija v 1806. Leta 1910 je imelo 8662 prebivalcev, od tega 7367 Nemcev in 1295 Čehov. Po 1. svetovni vojni v letih 1918 in 1919 je mesto pripadlo zgornji Avstriji, po tem ga zavzame češka vojska. Med 1938 in 1945 je bil priključen Nemčiji kot del Sudetov. Nemško govoreči del prebivalcev je bil po 2. svetovni vojni izgnan.

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Češki Krumlov iz gradu

Po ulici Horni, kjer je bil v srednjem veku eden glavnih vhodov, pridemo na glavni trg. Na začetku ulice je bil dvižni most in mestna vrata na umetno zgrajenem rečnem kanalu, ki je bil prav tako namenjen obrambi mesta. Drugi pomemben vhod je bil skozi Budjeviška vrata v Latran. Takoj pri vhodu v mesto po ulici Horni je Regionalni muzej z zbirko ljudske umetnosti iz Šumave ter umetnostne obrti, arheološko zbirko, zgodovinsko zbirko, zbirko pohištva in zbirko orožja. Največja znamenitost muzeja je za sobo velik keramični model Krumlova, kot je bil leta 1800. Nekoliko nižje po ulici proti glavnemu trgu stoji Latinska šola – Jezuitski kolegij iz leta 1588, danes Hotel Ruže, za njim pa karedrala sv. Vita iz 14. stol. Katedrala ima baročno notranjost s freskami na severni ladji in grobnico Wiliama iz Rožmberka. Glavni trg v mestu je Trg svornosti z Marianskim stolpom, postavljenim v spomin na kugo, ki je prizadela mesto v letih 1680 do 1682, postavljen leta 1716. Nekatere hiše imajo bogate štuko dekoracije in prenekatere gotske oboke (Mestna hiša Radnice). Preko mosta pridemo v Latran. V tem delu mesta se na skali nad Vltavo bohoti največja znamenitost mesta, grad.

Skala nad Vlatavo je bila naseljena že davno preden je bil zgrajen najstarejši del gradu. Prvi gotski grad so tu zgradili pred 1250, točna letnica ni poznana. Prvi lastniki so bili Witigoni, družina iz Krumlova. ko je leta 1302 umrl zadnji dedič Witigonov, so grad podedovali njihovi sorodniki Roženberki. Roženberki so imeli sedež na gradu do leta 1602. Ime Rožnberkov in njihova tristoletna vladavina sta povezani z velikim razvojem mesta. Utrdbo so razširili v drugi največji grad v Bohemiji. V drugi polovici 16. stol. so grad preuredili v lepo renesančno rezidenco.

Leta 1602 je gospostvo Krumlova kupil cesar Rudolf II. Habsburški. Cesar Ferdinand II je kraljevo posestvo podaril Ulrichu iz Eggenberga, ki je bil predstavnik Avstrijske kraljeve dinastije. Eggenbergi so v 1680ih letih ponovno postavili mesto na noge, potem ko je bilo močno prizadeto zaradi 30 letne vojne. krumlov so obnovili v baročnem stilu. Potem ko so leta 1719 Eggenbergi izumrli, so Krumlov podedovali Schwarzenbergi. Tudi Schwarzenbergi so nadaljevali z gospodarskim in kulturnim razvojem gradu in mesta. Proti koncu 18. stol. in začetku 19. stol. je grad izgubil vlogo glavne rezidence Schwarzenbergov ter od takrat ni bil nikoli več stalno naseljen. Leta 1947 je posestvo Schwarzenbergov, tudi Krumlov, postalo last Češke, kasneje Češkoslovaške države.

1. Prvo dvorišče: Del originalno namenjen obrambi, takoj za fortifikacijo je bil kasneje predelan v kmečki in obrtniški del gradu (16. stol.). Glavni vhod na 1. dvorišče je skozi lesena Rdeča vrata (ime zaradi barve). Zgornji del vrat z grbom družine Schwarzenberg delno predstavlja originalna vrata iz 1861. Rekonstruirana v 1988. V 14. stol. je bilo obzidje dozidano s hišami.

  • Takoj desno za Rdečimi vrati je Hiša soli originalno gotska. Od 1511 je bilo to skladišče za slad, kasneje skladišče za žito (konec 16. stol.) od 1723 pa skladišče soli.

Ljudje, ki so kasneje živeli v tej hiši, potem ko je bila predelana v stanovanjski objekt, marsikatero noč niso spali zaradi hrupa. Povzročala sta ga dva duhova, ki sta imela neporavnane medsebojne dolgova. Bila sta namreč čuvaja soli v času skladišča soli. Ker jima je bilo takrat velikokrat dogčas, sta se zapletala v kockarske dvoboje. Udarjala sta z rokami po mizi in glasno preklinjala. Nekega dne sta se na smrt sprla in se med sabo pobila. Od takrat se po hiši še vedno razširja ta hrup.

  • Takoj levo za vrati je Lekarna z renesančno zgrafito fasado iz 1556. Zgradba iz 14. stol. Prej je bila to rezidenca dvornega zdravnika, lekarna pa je bila v hiši za skladiščem soli.
  • Levo naprej od Nove lekarne je bil hlev, danes dvorana stebrov. V njem je bilo 50 konjev. Danes so v dvorani razstave.
  • Naprej od hleva je bila hiša okrajne administracije.
  • Vodnjak v parku je iz leta 1561. Park je bil verjetno prostor za živino.
  • Kovačija stoji desno za Rdečimi vrati v vogalu. Na gradu sta bila včasih dva kovača.
  • Pivovarna je bila v hiši naprej od kovača.
  • Naprej od kovača, zadaj v vogalu je bila še bolnica (1561).
  • Medvedji jarek na prehodu iz 1. na 2. dvorišče je bil del grajske fortifikacije. Medvede so začelli rediti v njem v 16. stol. vse do leta 1707.

Čez kamniti most, včasih lesen dvižni most, pridemo na 2. dvorišče. Okrašen je s kipi device Marije in sv. Janeza. Pod mostom je medvedji jarek, prvotno namenjen obrambi, kasneje za vzrejo medvedov. Prehod s Schwarzenbergovim grbom na vrhu vodi na 2. dvorišče.

2. Drugo dvorišče: Imenujejo ga tudi spodnji grad. Okoli njega dominirajo stanovanjske palače s stolpom imenovanim Mali grad (stavba pod grajskim stolpm), kateri je najstarejši del v grajskem kompleksu (2. polovica 13. stol). Okoli vhoda na 2. dvorišče stoji utrdba, ki je bila del grajske fortifikacije, zgrajena leta 1620. Na začetku 30. letne vojne so zgradili obzidje. Na vrhu utrdbe sta dva grba – levi od Josepha Adama Schwarzenberga in desni od njegove žene Marije Terezije von Lichtenstein. Kamniti most je  leta 1647 nadomestil lesenega, v sredini 18, stol. sta bila dodana kipa.

  • Grajski stolp: Najstarejši je JZ del. Severni del je že iz renesanse. V 1. nadstropju je koridor, ki gre preko Medvedjega jarka v Minoritski samostan. Stavba nad vhodom na 2. dvorišče je Nova hiša okrajne administracije.
  • Hiša administracije je bila zgrajena leta 1578. Sedež grajske administracije, v kleti so bili zapori, danes je tam knjižnica s 40.000 deli klasične in znanstvene literature. V tej zgradbi je bila ena prvih kmetijskih šol v Bohemiji ustanovljena leta 1800. Danes je tu arhiv z dokumenti od 13. stol. do danes.
  • Kovnica denarja najnovejša zgradba na dvorišču iz leta 1642. V njej je danes arhiv, v 1. nadstropju razstave.
  • Med 2. in 3. dvoriščem je bil še en jarek. V gotiki je bil ta vhod zaprt. Vhod je bil skozi na novo zgrajen stolp, ki je bil s stopniščem in lesenim mostom povezan s palačo. Danes je ta stolp poznan kot Mlekarna, ki je v renesansi služila za izdelavo mlečnih izdelkov za potrebe grajske kuhinje. Lesen most je bil odstranjen v sredini 17. stol.
  • Vodnjak na 2. dvorišču iz leta 1641.
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Grajski stolp iz 2. dvorišča

3. Tretje in četrto dvorišče: Imenovan tudi Zgornji grad. Originalni center gotskega gradu, zgrajen na vrhu skale, iz ene strani zaščiten z reko Vltavo, iz druge pa s potokom Polečnico. V notranjosti gradu lahko vidimo razvoj zgradbe od 14. do 19. stol., kako so se menjali lastniki, arhitekturni stili in gradbena moda. Nekaj slikarij je ohranjenih. Prikazujejo planete, Jupiter in Sonce.

4. Peto dvorišče: Pokriti most povezuje 5. dvorišče in vrtove s 4. dvoriščem. Nenavadna in impresivna zgradba, 3 nadstropni pokriti koridor. Originalni srednjeveški dvižni most je bil nadomeščen s tem prehodom. Zgrajen je bil v štirih etapah med leti 1689 in 1765. Najnižje nadstropje gosti grajsko gledališče, povezovalni koridor v najvišjem nadstropju pa omogoča prehod na vrtove.

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Prehod iz 4. na 5. dvorišče

5. Vrt je bil zgrajen v 17. stol. Velik je 150×750 m, obsega približno 10.900 ha površine. Razdeljen na tri dele: prostor za jahanje, spodnji del s fontano in zgornji del 500 m dolg iz baroka. V njem se nahajajo:

  • Šola jahanja
  • Rastlinjak s pomarančami in Hiša ananasov
  • Kaskadni vodnjak iz rokokoja
  • Letno gledališče
  • Ballarie, letna hiša iz 1708
  • Glasbeni paviljon
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Grajski vrt

Map of Europe 1000 AD to present with timeline



Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 10)

From Adergas to Ljubljana

The last day we have been observing Kamnik-Savinja Alps from far. Today we continue our ride at the foot of them. At the beggining of today’s ride we see Devil’s Forest on the slope of Mt. Zaplata. The last day we have been observing Kamnik-Savinja Alps from far. Today we continue our ride at the foot of them. At the beggining of today’s ride we see Devil’s Forest on the slope of Mt. Zaplata. Legend has it that two brothers from the plains below Mt Zaplata were quarrelling over a forested plot of land near their farm when one of them bemoaned “to hell with it!” at which point the Devil himself picked up the forest and carried it on his back up the mountain. However, before he reached the top the day broke, causing him to lose his strength and drop the six hectare patch of forest where it still rests today. 

First bigger town today is Kamnik. The first time it was mentioned as a town was in 1229, when it was an important trading post on the road between Ljubljana and Celje. This makes the town one of the oldest in Slovenia.The town was one of the the most influential centres of power of the Bavarian counts of Andechs in the region of Carniola at the time. The only remnant of the Bavarian nobility are the two ruined castles which are both strategically built on high ground near the town centre, one on the hill on the other side of the Kamniška Bistrica river and one practically in the town centre, on the lower hill above the main street.

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Little Castle in Kamnik

In Kamnik Rudolf Maister was born. He is another notable Slovene. He was a Slovene military officer, poet and political activist. In 1918, near the end of the war when it was obvious that Austria-Hungary was losing, the city council of Maribor proclaimed the annexation of Maribor to Austria. Maister organized Slovene volunteer forces of 4000 soldiers and 200 officers and in the night of 23 November 1918 seized control of the city of Maribor and the surrounding region of Lower Styria. At the beginning of next year, to Maribor came American peace delegation, to see the ethnic structure in the city. Germans wanted this visit to turn to advantage and organized mass gathering. Data shows, that in Maribor at the time lived 80% of Germans. Lot of Germans joined the gathering. In shooting, that followed on Main Square, 13 Germans were killed by the army and 60 were wunded. Witnesses of the event dr. Maks Pohar, testified that the Austrians (some still in the uniforms of the pro-Austrian paramilitary organization called the Green Guard) attacked the Slovene soldiers guarding the city hall. He said, Austrian fired a revolver in the direction of the Slovenian soldiers, who responded spontaneously by firing into the civilian crowd. The event is known as Maribor Bloody Sunday.

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Kamnik

We end the day and the tour in Ljubljana. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a lively Central European city lying in a basin at the confluence of the Sava and Ljubljanica rivers, between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, at 295 metres above sea level. It covers 273 square kilometres and has a population of about 300.000.

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Ljubljana

Ljubljana lies at the crossroads of important transport routes from Northern Europe to the Adriatic Sea, and from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Near East. Its geographical position overlaps with that of the so called Ljubljana Gateway, a one kilometre-wide natural passage between Central Europe and the Mediterranean leading through the very heart of the city, between the Golovec, Castle and Šišenski hrib hills. As Ljubljana is located in the immediate vicinity of both the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, a stay in the city allows you to enjoy skiing high in the mountains and swimming in the sea in a single day.

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Market in Ljubljana

Legend has it that Ljubljana was founded by the Greek mythological hero Jason and his companions, the Argonauts, who had stolen the golden fleece from King Aetes and fled from him across the Black Sea and up the Danube, Sava and Ljubljanica rivers. They stopped at a large lake in the marsh near the source of the Ljubljanica, where they disassembled their ship to be able to carry it to the Adriatic Sea, put it together again, and return to Greece. The lake where they made a stop was the dwelling place of a monster. Jason fought the monster, defeated it and killed it. The monster, now referred to as the Ljubljana Dragon, found its place atop the castle tower on the Ljubljana coat of arms.

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 9)

From Bled to Adergas

The village of Kropa, the cradle of Slovene iron-forging, lies in a narrow valley beneath the Jelovica Plateau. It is one of the most important Slovenia’s historic places due to its preserved architecture and technical heritage and has been protected as a cultural monument since 1953. It started to develop in the 14. century when the forest ironwork industry started to move from iron ore deposits on the Jelovica plateau towards the valleys and brooks.It has been established that over 100 different types of nails were for sale at home and abroad. In the 18. and the beginning of the 19. century, the time of the greatest production of the Kropa ironworks, there were also seven iron foundries in addition to two forges, that took care of producing semi-manufactured goods and 19 nail factories that jointly provided a living for a little over 1000 people. At the end of the 19. century, due to the crisis, competition from abroad and lack of ore, producers united into nail production cooperative. It later became the screw factory Plamen and artistic iron works UKO, which still operates today. The Iron Forging Museum in Kropa demonstrates the entire iron working process: from iron ore to a spike. It shows the economic, social and cultural conditions in Kropa and nearby ironworking location since the 15. century. The collection of nails has 94 types of preserved nails, from the smallest, used in shoemaking, to those that are 70cm long which were used in dam building. It is said, that even Venice is built by Kropa nails. Famous people from Kropa:

  • Dušan Petrač, physicist, works at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, at NASA in Pasadena

  • Janez Potočnik, economist, commissioner in the EU

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Kropa

When you will ride up the hill from Kropa, remember the man, who won the 2012 Monte Carlo des enegies nouvelles. He lives and works in the village of Češnjica. Monte Carlo raly was 1380km long. On the first day the most important was crossing the finnish line in time, the volume of energy spent was not the issue. The second day the track was 430km long with 5000m of vertical climb and 480km with 2500m of vertical climb on the third day. If we translate the energy into the money: Andrej spent about 12 EUR to complete the race. How much energy spent the best in the rally Monte Carlo:

  1. place: Andrej Pečjak and Frederic Mlynarczyk (Dacia sandero); total spent energy 149,45 kWh
  2. place: James Morlaix and Sebastien Chol (Tesla roadster), total spent energy: 151,50 kWh
  3. place: Jean-Paul Oger and Benjamin Lardans (Tesla roadster S), total spent energy: 160,76 kWh

On the rally also took part a team in Ferrari 458 spider. For the same track they spent 154,10 l of fuel, what is 977,30 kWh of energy. They finished the race on 80. place.

Bitnje is a typical colonized village. Colonizers came from Bavaria in 12. and 13. century, in the times, when bishops of Freising (Bavaria) owned Škofja Loka and its land. They received a narrow and long stretch of land to work. At the time of arrival the land was completely forested. They had to chop the trees first and prepare the land for cultivation. The strethes were about 50m wide and 2km long. On one one side they were connected with a road, by the road was a house, barn and storrages. In base the ground plan stayed unchanged until today.

Škofja Loka, a thousand-year-old city at the confluence of the Poljanska Sora and Selška Sora rivers, was the center of the Loka dominion owned for 830 years by the Bishops of Freising, who placed an indelible stamp on the city. There is a Negro with a crown in all symbols of Loka, which relates to the legend about the land lord Abraham and his servant. The legend says that they were travelling along the Poljanska dolina valley and they met a big bear in dark woods. Bishop Abraham stopped, but the Negro drew a bow and shot the bear. Abraham had the head of the Negro pictured in the town coat-of-arms in order to thank the servant for having saved his life. The old city core boasts numerous points of interest from the past, and the Loka Castle, built before 1202, reigns above the city. Škofja Loka is considered the most beautifully preserved medieval city in Slovenia.

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Town or Upper Square in Škofja Loka

You can enter the old city crossing the Stone or Capuchin’s bridge. The bridge was built by bishop Leopold in the middle of the 14. century. The fate wanted that the same bishop, riding across the fenceless bridge, together with his startled horse fell from the bridge and got drowned in the water. The bridge was built from carved stone in the semicircular form. It was restored in the year 1888 and equipped with iron fence. In the middle of the bridge stands the statue of St. John of Nepomuk with the seal of Škoja Loka, already mentioned Negro.

The heart of the town is Town Square. There were all important buildings of the medieval town. Mainly the buildings have two stories, different coulours and three windows. If any building had four windows, the owner had to pay an extra tax for a forth window. On the stone fountain you can notice town’s seal again, the Negro. Lower Square or Lontrg runs parallel with Upper Square or Town Square. Lontrg was more like coountryside-looking square. There were farmers and craftsmen, who wanted to become middle class citizen. In groundflors were shops and workshops, in frst stories they lived. Groheč house still has an old outlook, from middle ages. It is the only one storey building built from wood.

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Lontrg with Groheč house in Škofja Loka

There are another two important buildings in Škofja Loka: the castle and parish church of St. Jacob. The castle was mentioned for the first time in 1215. It housed the administrative seat of the vast feudal estate that encompassed the river basins of the Selca Sora and the Poljane Sora, and the plain of Sorško polje; the land belonged to the diocese of Freising, Bavaria, for as long as 830 years (973-1803).

The castle today houses the musum, which shows life in Škofja Loka and surrounding villages (cultural history, archeology, art history, natural science, ethnology, recent history,…).

The parish church of St. Jacob is a magnificent, late-Gothic, hall-like building that was erected in the 15th century on the foundations of a church at least 200 years older than the present one. In the past century, the interior of the church was renovated in accordance with the plans of the architect Jože Plečnik; chandeliers and a new baptistery were added at that time, too. The church tower, which bears the date 1532, is one of the features that makes the panoramic view of the town so distinctive.

The most important event in Škofja Loka is Passion play, which was recently brought back to town streets. If we look back in our history we can see that the play was written during the time when Slovenia was affected by a disastrous plague which killed a lot of people. Those who survived became very scared. They tried everything to stop this terrifying disease. They organized processions during Easter time when they performed the suffering of Jesus-Christ. These processions were proposed by the bishoph Tomaž Hren from Ljubljana who asked the Jesuits to organize them. The processions took place in the streets of Ljubljana. Behind them walked people who carried crosses or who flogged themselves. Many times the chief officer of a district of Škofja Loka Mr. Anton the noble Ecker suggested to organize a procession in the honour of the suffering of Jesus-Christ. In 1720 the Capuchin Romuald Marušič was elected in order to prepare everything that was necessary for the procession. At first he found volunteers from the city and farmers from the villages around and both valleys. Then he wrote the text and the play was performed in 1721. Later on the play was performed only twice; in 1727 and in 1728. After the Baroque period the Passion Play vanished for almost three centuries. It was renewed only in 1999 and 2000. It was a great success because about 53000 visitors came to see it. To run parallel with the Passion Play some visitors were offered special food and drink typical for the Baroque, others visited the monuments of Škofja Loka as well as those in the surroundings. There was an interruption of eight years after the year 2000. Then the authorities in Škofja Loka community decided to renew the Passion Play because they wanted it to become traditional. It will be possible to see it again this spring. It is worth to be seen because it has preserved all Medieval and Baroque elements that make Škofja Loka Passion Play unique and a very important European play. The latest Passion was performed in 2009 (800 actors, 80 horsemen, 24,000 spectators in 8 days) and will be re-staged again only in 2015.

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Church and monastery in Adergas

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 8)

To Bohinj

Bohinj is a valley that stretches from Soteska to Ukanc. The entrance to the basin is very narrow. Turks and Napoleon with his army turned around and not tried to invade it. They thought, there is the end of the world. This narrow gorge strethes between forested Jelovica and Pokljuka high plateaus. At the narrowest place is place only for road, railway and Sava Bohinjka river. Bohinj basin is much wider. It is caught between Lower Bohinj Mountain Range on the south and Triglav on the north. The basin is dividen into two valleys: Upper and Lower valleys. Through Bohinj we make round tour. Through the Lower valley by the Sava Bohinjka river to the lake and back through the Upper valley. The Lower valley was traditionally more farming part of Bohinj, the Upper valley was more industrial. Stara Fužina and Bistrica were strong ironwork centres. That’s already a history. The last blast furnace was closed in the middle of 19. century and business moved to Jesenice.

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Vogel and Triglav, between is Bohinj

Today one of the main sources for living of the locals is tourism. When God’s been distributing the world among his people, he wanted to leave this part of the world for himself. But when he saw last people standing in the row, and there was no other place to give them, he decided to give them this paradise, Bohinj. The paradise attract visitors from all over the world. Lake caught between high mountains, which rise above the lake for 1500m and more. Lake Bohinj is 4,2km long and 1km wide at its maximum width. It is a glacial lake dammed by a moraine. And it’s also the largest natural permanent lake in Slovenia. Its largest feeder is stream Savica flowing into the lake from the west side. The largest effluent is Jezernica, later Sava Bohinjka river. It is interesting, that outflow from Bohinj is larger that inflow. That means, that lot of water comes from underground springs.

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Lake Bohinj

Bohinj was also an important rear of Austrian army during Soča Front in World War 1. The railway through the valley, that was opened in 1906, was extended to Ukanc on the other side of the lake. From there all material, equipment and arms were transported on the backs of horses and mules. It is said, that a train engine is still in the lake, covered by mud. Nobody has found it yet.

Waterfall Savica is one of the most famous and popular waterfalls in Slovenia. It is where Krst pri Savici (The Baptism on the Savica), the masterpiece of France Prešeren, takes place. Official height is 78m. Water from the Black Lake sink 500m higher in the mountains and come through the underground channels to the waterfall. One part of the water sink in a tunnel again and come out as a 25m high waterfall, left part of the Savica waterfall.

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Waterfall Savica

Triglav National Park is the only national park in Slovenia. It stretches from Bled to the border with Italy and from Sava Dolinka river to Tolmin. It covers almost complete Slovenian part of Julian Alps, the area of 838 km2. Its highest point is Triglav with 2864m, the lowest is Tolminka river with 180m.

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Triglav from Debela Peč

The first proposal for conservation dates from the year 1908, and was realised in 1924. Then, on the initiative taken by the Nature Protection Section of the Museological Society of Slovenia together with the Slovene Alpine Society, a twenty year lease was taken out on the Triglav Lakes Valley area, some 1400 hectares: It was destined to become an “Alpine Protection Park”, however permanent conservation was not possible, in 1961, after many years of effort, the protection was renewed this time on a permanent bases and somewhat enlarged, embracing some 2000 hectares. The protected area was officially designated as “The Triglav National Park”. Under this act, however, all objectives of a true national park were not attained and for this reason over the next two decades, new proposals for the extension and rearrangement of the protection were put forward. Finally, in 1981, a rearrangement was achieved and the park was given a new concept and enlarged to 838 square kilometres the area which it continues to cover to this day.

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Triglav Lakes Valley in Triglav National Park

The park is named after Mt.Triglav (2864m), symbol of the Slovenia, which is situated almost in the middle of the protected territory. From it the valleys spread out radial, supplying water to two large river Systems which have their sources in the Julian Alps: the Soca river and the Sava river flowing to the Adriatic and Black Sea respectively.

In the past the narrow valleys of the Julian Alps did not offer favourable conditions for settlement. However traces of older settlements can be found, particularly in the Bovec basin, the Bohinj area and the Upper Sava river valley. The mountain way of life has given an indelible stamp to this mountainous region. A great part was played by cattle-breeding and very early on the inhabitants pastured their cattle in the mountains (the pastures on the slope of Krn were first mentioned in 1178), and established seasonal hamlets in the high mountain pastures. From very early times people were also engaged in producing iron, they found ore in the vicinity of their residences, smelted and then traded iron products. This economic activity reached its climax in the 15. and 16. centuries when the ironworks beside the rivers in the Trenta valley, in the Bohinj area and in the Jesenice basin were established. At the same time, the forests were thinned extensively to obtain charcoal from wood for the needs of the iron working industry. On account of a lack of ore and timber the ironworks of Trenta was closed in 1778, while obsolete technology and arrival of the railway, led to the closing of the ironworks of Bohinj in 1868.

A characteristic feature of the Slovene Alps was development of mountaineering. It is one of the oldest and most popular activities in the country which led to the foundation of the famous Slovene Alpine Society. This Society played a special role in the awakening of the Slovene national consciousness during the period of Austro-Hungarian rule. In these times there was a race between Slovenes, Austrians and Germans who will climb more and more difficult. It was the time when mountain huts begin to grow, when new mountain tracks have been marked and when new climbing route have been climbed. If you don’t climb Triglav at least once in your lifetime, you are not a Slovene. Today we have a network of 1661 mountain tracks in a total distance of about 9000km and 176 mountain huts, refuges bivouacs. Mountain tracks are well marked. If you have a proper map and you follow the yellow-red marks, you’ll hardly miss your way.

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Jalovec from Sleme in Triglav National Park

 The biggest achievements in Slovenian mountaineering:

  • Valentin Stanič is considered as the first Slovenian alpinist and one of the pioneers of European alpinism. In 1800 he climbed Grossglockner (the highest mountain of Austria) one day after the first ascenders and installed the summit cross. Few weeks later he climbed Watzmann (the second highest mountain in Germany) as the first ascender. In the year 1808 he climbed Triglav and measured his real hight.
  • Firs documented climb to Triglav happened in 1778. Four Brave Men climb it from Bohinj.
  • In 1975 Marjan Manfreda and Stane Belak as first Slovenes stood on the mountain highest than 8000m. Marjan climbed it with no additional oxygen as the first man in the world.
  • First climb to Mt. Everest was in 1979.
  • In 1998 Tomaž Humar performed 3. solo climb (or 1. solo by non American) of the route Reticent Wall (marked A4-A5) in El Capitan (Yosemite)
  • In 2000 Davo Krničar became the first man in the world, who successfully made an interrupted descent on skies from the top of Mt. Everest to the base camp on 5350m
  • In 2005 Tomaž Humar attempt to solo climb Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat. At about 7000m of hight he was stopped by bad weather and rescued by the famous helicopter action of the Pakistani air forces.

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 7)

From Podkoren to Bled

Today we pass towns, that are home towns of some world famous Slovenes, to you probably  mainly unknown, but some you might know. Mainly they are athletes. First we pass Mojstrana. From Mojstrana are Jure Košir, Alenka Dovžan and Martina Čufar. Jure Košir and Alenka Dovžan are former alpine skiers. Jure won 3 gold medals and additional 20 top 3 podiums, 18 of them at slalom. That’s all Italian Alberto Tomba let him to win (they were rivals almost all his career). Rock climber Martina Čufar stood 32. times on the podium in international competition and was once champion and once vice champion. Her the most difficult ascents are graded 8c in French grading or about 5.14b in Yosemite Decimal System. In the village close to Mojstrana lived and worked Jakob Aljaž, priest, poet and mountaineer. He became known by having built mountain huts around Triglav, which fostered the development of mountaineering in Slovenian Lands. His by far the most known constructions are Aljaž Tower built on the summit of Mt. Triglav and Aljaž Hut in Vrata Valley at the foot of it.

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Aljaž Tower at the top of Mt. Triglav

Hrušica is home town of Anže Kopitar – Kopi, Slovene professional hockey player, the first Slovene hockey player in NHL and 2012 Stanley Cup winner. He started his career playing for Acroni Jesenice. Jesenice is famous after at least two things: just mentioned hockey club and steel industry. Small streams on the slopes of the Karawanks were no longer sufficient. The ore-extracting industry moved to the valley to a larger water source Sava river in 1538 and creating a settlement that was to become Jesenice. In the golden years of iron production in Jesenice iron-works stretched through almost complete town.

From Jesenice was the world’s toughest and craziest athlete, endurance cyclist Jure Robič. Robič won the Race Across America (RAAM) 5 times (a record in the men’s solo category): in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. He was in second place at the final time station in 2009 when he dropped out to protest time penalties he had received. Robič swore never to enter RAAM again, but changed his mind and came back and won again in 2010. During the 2004 Race Across America, it was reported that he had only eight hours of sleep during his eight-day, 2,958.5-mile (4,761.2km) ride across the United States. On 19 September 2004, Robič broke the world 24-hour road record by cycling 834.77 km (518.70mi).

Anton Janša was educated as a painter, but was employed as a teacher of apiculture at the Habsburg court in Vienna. He became famous for his lectures in which he demonstrated his knowledge of bees. He also wrote two books in German: Discussion on Bee-keeping (1771) and A Full guide to Bee-keeping (1775). In his Full guide he noted: Bees are a type of fly, hardworking, created by God to provide man with all needed honey and wax. Amongst all God’s beings there are none so hard working and useful to man with so little attention needed for its keep as the bee. The Empress Maria Theresa issued a decree after Janša’s death obliging all teachers of apiculture to use his books. In bee-keeping he is noted for changing the size and shape of hives to a form where they can be stacked together like blocks. As a painter he also decorated the fronts of hives with paintings. He advocated moving hives to pastures. Janša’s beehive in Breznica was preserved by Slovene bee-keepers and in 1884 a plaque was put on the house where he was born. The Museum of Apiculture in Radovljica is also named after him.

About 1km of our way is village Vrba, where our poet France Prešeren was born. In 1945, the anniversary of his death, called Prešeren Day, was declared as the Slovenian cultural holiday. In 1989, his Zdravljica (A toast) was declared the national anthem of Slovenia. In 1992, his effigy was portrayed on the Slovenian 1000 tolar banknote, and since 2007, his image is on the Slovenian two-euro coin.

Begunje is a home of the most successful music band in Slovenia, folk music group Ansambel bratov Avsenik (Brothers Avsenik Ensemble). They sold 31 mio records, they also have the world record in uninterrupted playing music – more than 300 evenings in the row. Brother Avsenik are also the most times played European compositors. Their composition Na Golici is the most times played instrumental composition in the world in 20. century. Just for comparison: Bruce Springsteen sold 120 mio albums; Depeche Mode, Green Day, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin sold 75 mio.

During the time of Nazi occupation Katzenstein Castle served as a Gestapo prison. In the years from 1941 to 1945, a total of 11.477 prisoners were interned, mostly followers of the resistance movement from Gorenjska region, as well as from other Slovenian regions. The former prison in the castle houses Museum of Hostages. In the park and nearby Draga valley are 667 burial sights of hostages and partisans.

In Begunje is also Elan factory and its shop. Elan is Slovenian ski producer with long history and many successes, achievements and awards. Their invention is also carving or sidecut ski. First real carving ski was SCX ski (Sidecut Extreme) and first descent on the race was made by Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark in Austrian Sölden in 1988. They were 203cm long. After that slalom it took 10 years this skies to be used in racing competitions. In the USA (and to the world) the carving revolution (shaped or parabolic ski, as it was then called)  was introduced in the season 1994-1995 for the first time. The engine of promotion was Bill Irwin. He was the one who, after testing the skies, believed to the success of the skies. The start was not easy. Elan was just a small player on the huge market of this industry and with 7% of market share they couldn’t turn the trend. It’s interesting, that nobody noticed the potential of this change, until Rossignol presented his carving skies. In three years only (between 1995 and 1998) the number of skies sold increased from 18.000 to 210.000 pairs. But recently, they presented another innovation or revolution in skiing: Amphibio. Basically, these left and right skis have inside edges with a traditional camber (which result in excellent edge grip and power transfer), while the outside edges have a slightly rockered design, allowing easier turn initiation and flotation. Earlier previous decade, Elan introduced the concept of an all-in-one ski-binding system and, five years ago, the benefits of WaveFlex technology. (Think softer flex with torsional stability through the concept of corrugated strength.) Elan’s WaveFlex technology has been incorporated into all models of the Amphibio line.

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Radovljica is medieval town, built on the glacial terrace above Sava river. The old part of the town forms main Linhart square with one row of mainly Gothic buildings on each side and on places preserved town wall. The square is named after Anton Tomaž Linhart, Carniolain playwright and historian. He is the author of the first comedy and theatrical play in Slovene, Županova Micka (Micka, the Mayor’s Daughter) and writer of a history of all Slovenes as a unit, rejecting the previous concept which focused on single historical provinces. The most prominent building on the square is Baroque Mansion house. The mansion today houses Beekepers Museum and Radovljica Municipal Museum.

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Lectar inn

On the main square you can also find restaurant Lectar. It is located in a house with more than 500 years of history and is in business for over 180 years. It was opened on the premises of an old chandlery and bakery known mostly for its lect or gingerbread hearts. This is how the restaurant got its name and trademark. Lectarstvo (producing gingerbread hearts) is an old and renowned traditional handicraft of Slovenia. The decorated pastry is made from honey dough and shaped either with a wooden or tin mould, or by hand.  During the Middle Ages, lect was popular with social elite in cities and squares, while in the countryside lect workshops appeared in the 19. century. In those times, these products were highly regarded as meaningful tokens of love.  The oldest preserved wooden mould dates back to the 16. century. Today, honey-bread products are precious souvenirs from Slovenia.

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Linhart Square in Radovljica

Lesce is a home town of another three around the world known persons. The first one is Iztok Čop, a Slovenian rower, winner of many medals from the most important world class races, an Olympic gold medallist and one of the best Slovenian athletes. The second one is Franci Petek, former ski jumper, winner of gold medal in the individual large hill. The third one is me.

Lake with an island and a church on it, castle raising above and a backdrop of high mountains and forests. That’s Bled. Due to it’s natural beauties it became one of the most popular resorts in Slovenia. Everything started in the middle of 19. century, when a Swiss doctor, Arnold Rikli, found the lake, when searching for the most appropriate place for perfect healing effect of the natural environment. Rikli proposed various therapies, mostly based on exposing the body to sun and air, called sun tanning, preferably done while naked. He is one of the forefathers of a movement called naturism today. The lake is just enough long, that rowing competitions can be organized there. Bled was a host to the World Rowing Championship already four times, in 1966, 1979, 1989 and 2011. Bled has three symbols and you should go for all three of them. The recipe for Cream cake was brought to the local Hotel Park in 1953 by Ištvan Kovačevič, chef of the hotel’s confectionery store. So far about 12 million cream cakes have been baked at the hotel’s patisserie since its invention. Main ingredients are puff pastry, vanilla and custard (a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk) cream. Traditional wooden horse carriage can take you for a ride around the lake or to the surrounding villages. And also wooden pletna boat can take you to the island.

As you might read somewhere, the lake is of glacial origin. Well, that’s not so. The true story goes like this: There, where today the lake is, a long time ago was no water, but a valley with small hill and huge rock atop. At a moonlight, mountain fairies gathered and danced. In the green valley and steep slopes of the hill, shepherds herded sheep. Sheep grazed all the grass, which grew around the rock. One day fairies got angry and threatened to shepherd-boys: „Make a fence around the rock, or we will.“ Shepherd-boys just laughed and continued taking cattle to pasture. Sheep grazed all the grass and one night the youngest and the prettiest made broke leg on a hard ground. Fairies revenged on boys for broken leg, call water to run down from the hills above to the valley and encircle the rock on the hill, so just the rock was above the water. That’s how fairies fenced the rock on the hill to dance undisturbed in the moonlight.

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