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, former commissioner in the EU



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.

Town or Upper Square in Škofja Loka

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.

Lontrg with Groheč house in Škofja Loka

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.

Church and monastery in Adergas

Church and monastery in Adergas

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