Archive for April, 2014

Slovenian Karst

The region between the Gulf of Trieste and Vipava valley. It is a land with typical surface and underground forms, emerging mostly due to the chemical reaction of the water and easily dissolving limestone (Karst in Slovenia).

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Karst is a landmark of Slovenia. Almost half of the country is karstic with about 8000 caves registered, there are also karst springs and intermittent springs, disappearing lakes, swallets and swallow holes, original karst plains and apparently dry sinkholes. The most famous caves in Slovenia are: the Postojna Cave which is the most visited cave in Europe, the Škocjan Caves, listed in the world natural heritage at Unesco, the Križna jama Cave with its underground lakes and the oldest tourist cave Vilenica.

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More than half of the population is supplied by karst waters. In the 19. century, the German version of the Slovene name Kras has been given to the 500-meter high plateau and Postojna became the scientific term for similar land formations around the world. In many world languages, karst means a rocky waterless limestone surface with underground formations occurring through the chemical action of water on soluble stone (Randburg).

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The Karst steeply descends towards the Adriatic Sea and it is less exposed to the beneficial climatological effects of the Mediterranean. In the past, the main vegetation on the plateau were oak trees, but these were replaced by pine forests in the 19. and 20. centuries. Forests now cover only one-third of the Karst. Starting the Middle Ages, the plateau suffered radical deforestation for economic reasons. Although much of the wood for the closely spaced piles that support the island city of Venice, Italy came from this region, Venice carefully managed the Karst forests as a reserve for naval timber. The most radical deforestation occurred in the mid-nineteenth century due to clear-cutting by local farmers and conversion of the land into pastures for sheep (Wikipedia).

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Wood or fibreglass

There is no question about it…written in one of the schooners in Husavik.

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Ljubljana castle

Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) is the most spectacular sight of Ljubljana. It is standing on Castle hill (376 m) above old city of Ljubljana. Its position is very important, because it is closing the only flat passage from Pomurje thorough Ljubljana gate, over Karst highlands to the Adriatic see and from Alps to Posavje and further on to Podonavje.

There is proven evidence that the hill on top of which it is situated was inhabited back in the 12th century BC Preserved from this early period of settlement are the remains of the Urn Tomb culture.

Ljubljana castle from the centre

Ljubljana castle from the centre

The first known fortification of considerable dimensions situated on top of the Castle Hill (Grad) was built in Illyrian and Celtic times. A stronghold was most probably located there also in Roman times. A document originating from the period between 1112 and 1125 mentions a medieval castle built in the 9th century, which later served as the seat of the provincial rulers of the Spannheim family, who coined their own money in Ljubljana. In 1335 the castle became the hereditary property of the Hapsburg family and the centre of the Province of Carniola. In the second half of the 15th century a new, larger, circular castle was built by Duke Frederick III of Hapsburg, later crowned Roman German Emperor.

View from Ljubljana castle

View from Ljubljana castle

The castle is typical late medieval fortress. It has incorrect ground plan, big inner yard, entrance and side towers (all together 6). Fortress is adjusted to the state of arms, used in those times (times of Frederick III). It has been built over few decades. First part was system of wall around flattened yard, with half round towered contacts. Today’s shape of the castle is from the times of Frederick III (second half of 15th century) and also some from 16thcentury. The earthquake in 1511 did not damage the castle, as it did big part of Carniola.

Except for the outer walls of the Chapel of St. George (Kapela sv. Jurija), which was consecrated in 1489, all the other main buildings of the present castle were either built or rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. Until 1814 the castle served as a garrison and later a provincial prison. Built in 1848 was the Outlook Tower (Razgledni stolp), the home of the guard whose duty was to shoot cannons to warn against fire and announce important visitors and events taking place in Ljubljana – a duty previously performed by town servants at the Pipers’ Tower (Stolp piskačev). Pipers are first mentioned in first half of 16th century. They were playing (they were playing 3 trombones and 1 cornet) for some special occasions, regularly during the summer every day at 11 o’clock. One special occasion was also in June 1561, when Primož Trubar came back to work in protestant church. At the same time the pipers were watchmen , who took care for fire safety of the city.

Material used for building was stone and brick. In the lower layers is limestone from Podpeč, before used in roman Emona, in upper layers is slate (skrilavec) from Golovec and Castle hill.

In 1905 the castle was purchased by the Municipality of Ljubljana in order to be used for cultural purposes, but until 1964 it mainly served as a residential building. Afterwards it underwent a renovation, which has still been going on. Since 2000, the castle has been administered by the Festival Ljubljana festival management company.

Ljubljana Castle is a major tourist attraction and a picturesque venue of numerous cultural events including concerts, theatre performances, exhibitions, congresses and official receptions, which add a special flavour to the lively pulse of life in Ljubljana.

The present castle entrance came into use in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the castle served as a prison. It replaced the former entrance located beneath the Archers’ Tower (Stolp strelcev).

Old entrance through the Pentagonal tower

Old entrance through the Pentagonal tower

New entrance under the Archer’ Tower

New entrance under the Archer’ Tower

In the 15th century and the centuries to follow the entrance was located in the Pentagonal Tower (Peterokotni stolp), which was built for defence purposes and is now used as an exhibition venue. The White and Blue Halls (Bela dvorana, Modra dvorana), which have presently been used for weddings, were added to the building in the 1980s. The Erasmus’ Tower (Erazmov stolp) was built in the 15th century and is believed to have been used as a prison for noblemen. One of the coats of arms, which the prisoners carved into the tower walls, is believed to have belonged to the legendary outcast knight Erasmus of Predjama. The Hribar Hall (Hribarjeva dvorana), the largest hall in the castle, was named after Ivan Hribar, a famous mayor of Ljubljana, who purchased the castle for municipal purposes.

The Chapel of St. George (Kapela sv. Jurija) is one of the oldest preserved places in the castle. Built in the Gothic and rebuilt in the Baroque style, it is ornamented with fragments of decorative 15th century wall paintings as well as frescoes representing the coats of arms of provincial governors and five Austrian rulers, which date from 1747.

Chapel of St. George

Chapel of St. George

Chapel of St. George

Chapel of St. George

The castle’s Outlook Tower (Razgledni stolp) stands in the place of the former Pipers’ Tower, which was pulled down in 1813, during the French occupation. Afterwards a signal tower, the home of the castle guard, was built in its place. Offering the most beautiful view of Ljubljana and its surroundings, the Outlook Tower, which was in 1982 raised by 1.2 metres, now only serves as a tourist attraction.

Outlook tower and courtyard of the castle

Outlook tower and courtyard of the castle

The Platium (Palacij) is the name of a renovated castle hall named after the former castle building used for receptions and feasts given by provincial governors. Next to the Palatium is the State Hall (Stanovska dvorana), which was most probably used for similar purposes. Located in the basement underneath the courtyard are a number of halls used as occasional exhibition venues. In the past, ramparts were connecting the Archers’ Tower (Stolp strelcev) and the former fortress at the nearby Šance. The preserved part of the Šance ramparts were in the 1930s converted into an arched walk designed by architect Jože Plečnik. The course of the missing in-between part of the ramparts was marked by a tree-lined walk.

Plečnik's Šance

Plečnik’s Šance

Panoramic view of the castle

Panoramic view of the castle

Lesce

Lesce seems to be an industrial town between Radovljica and Bled. But it’s not just like this. It’s true, that in last hundred years the village developed on the wings of the factory of chains Veriga Lesce, which has been working there since 1922. The factory if we are precise, doesn’t work in such huge framework as it did at the end of 1980s. But there is much more than just this factory in Lesce. Lesce developed also as a tourist town. In the year 1956 few enthusiasts started works in marshy land close to Sava river to build a campsite and small lake. Until today Šobec received lot of awards for development and quality. In 2006 they stuck the fifth star to existent four, so today Šobec is the campsite with high quality service and one of the nicely arranged campsites in Europe.

Lesce is well known also after the best chocolate on the World, Gorenjka. Production of the chocolate is even older than the production of chains. The production started in 1921 in Kapus blacksmith’s workshop (the house in the centre of the town, building due to a road, that has been built on the place, doesn’t exit any more). The place where they work today is their third location.

Until the beginning of 20. century Lesce had been nothing more than a transit village. In 1855 hotel was built close to the post office and stables for horses. The horse team transport used to be very important source of income. From Stol, Begunjščica, Bohinj and Jelovica they transported iron ore to Jesenice ironworks and tourists to Bled. Since 1870 you can come to Lesce by train and from 1930s also by plane. If you have your own. In base ALC Lesce is sport airport where you can take a panoramic flight to Bled, Bohinj or Triglav, jump from an air plane or fly with glider.

Lesce can boast of with two persons, who lived in Lesce: Franci Petek, ski-jumper (world champion in the individual large hill in 1991) and Iztok Čop, rower (repeated world champion and Olympic medallist).

Šobec (source: http://www.lesce.si)

Šobec (source: http://www.lesce.si)

Airport Lesce (source: http://www.alc-lesce.si)

Airport Lesce (source: http://www.alc-lesce.si)

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