Covering some 577 hectares of pastureland, Velika Planina is the catchall name for a number of plateaus that come together to make the highest alpine pasture plateau in Slovenia. Just a short drive outside of Kamnik, hordes of herdsmen’s cottages sit at an altitude of over 1500 metres surrounded by pine forests. It is a remarkable place, and one that truly is a must-see when in Kamnik or Ljubljana.
As May comes around green becomes the overwhelmingly dominant colour on the highland, along with the blossoming of the purple Kamnik flower (or Nigritella Lithopolitanica, to give it its scientific name). Huts sit lazily all around, with pine shingle roofs and an architecture that is genuinely unique to this mountain land. As various peaks rising over 2500m loom in the background, it all makes for some wonderful scenery. The Herdsmen’s Settlement comes alive in summer, maintaining traditions that are centuries old. The Snow Mary Chapel sits on top of the settlement, looking over in a most protective manner. The tourist settlement might not have quite as much history but it still has a fascinating story nonetheless, and the views are even more remarkable from this elevated spot. A number of guesthouses sit at various points throughout, providing weary hikers with some much-needed food straight from the history of this beautiful land.
We’ve included only some of Velika Planina’s highlights below, but you can find lots more information in the newest edition of The Slovenia Book.
HERDSMEN’S SETTLEMENT: From June until September, Velika Planina acts as home for around 30 herdsmen, who slowly move up the mountain to their settlement to continue tradition and to tend to their cattle. Some 63 huts dot the landscape with their distinctly unique architecture in what is now an officially protected cultural landscape.
CHAPEL OF OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS: Sat above the herdsmen’s settlement like a protective mother, the first incarnation of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows was built in 1938 in order to provide the herdsmen a venue for the holy mass. Prior to its being built, the herdsmen would gather on Zeleni Rob in order to hear church bells ringing through the valley. The first chapel wouldn’t last so long, unfortunately, being burnt down by German soldiers and Slovene militiamen in WWII.
PRESKAR HUT MUSEUM: The only preserved oval hut with an open replace and no windows or chimney, the Preskar Hut Museum stands out in the settlement. Built after the devastation of World War Two, it now houses a museum showing the life of herdsmen in the 19th century. Info: +386 (0)31 68 08 02, [email protected]. Open Jun – Sept 10:00 – 16:00.
SETTLEMENT AND GOSTIŠČE ZELENI ROB: Built for tourists and adjusted to suit their needs, the area around Zeleni Rob is now home to numerous cottages for those who wish to extend their stay on Velika Planina to extra days. Built using plans drawn up by Vlasto Kopač, it was intended to be aesthetically separate from the Herdsmen’s Settlement but it still retains a distinct Velika Planina flavour. Info: Zeleni Rob contact: +386 (0)51 34 14 06, [email protected].
Written by: Yuri Barron, Will Dunn, John Bills, James Cosier, Edited by Jana Studen