VRANSKO: A small town with big museums

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Vransko is the westernmost municipality in Dežela Celjska, and actually closer to Ljubljana than it is to Rogatec or Rogaška Slatina at the opposite end of the region. Its name (which means crow in Slovene) is said to have originated from the time when the area was a marshy swampland populated with the crafty black birds.

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A town had existed here since at least the beginning of the 12th century, which is when the parish Church of St Michael was first mentioned. The church is still Vransko’s most impressive building, with its most notable feature being the marble altar crafted in the 18th century by the hands of Italy’s most famous sculptor, Francesco Robba. Nowadays the town is likely most known by Slovenes as the home of the Vransko Motorcycle Museum and the National Automobile Association’s newly-built 16 hectare safe driving course, but there are lots of other things to see and do as well, including the birthplace of Slovenia’s first modern publisher, one of the largest firefighter museums in the country, karst springs and caves, and some well-kept hiking trails that offer sweeping views of the entire Savinjska Valley.


SCHWENTNER HOUSE (SCHWENTNERJEVA HIŠA): Slovenia is one of the most literate countries in the world – not only based on its literacy rate of virtually 100%, but also on the fact that until very recently more books were published per capita in Slovenia than anywhere else. One of the people most responsible for this is Lavoslav Schwenter, who was born and raised in Vransko and is often referred to as the first modern Slovene publisher. After secondary school the ambitious young Schwentner travelled abroad, first to Vienna and then later to Prague and Germany, to work in as an apprentice. During these years he both learned how the publishing industry worked and established valuable connections. In 1898, Schwentner established his own company in Ljubljana, and went on to co-find the Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Yugoslavia in the 1930s. After WWII he returned to his hometown, where he died in 1952 at the age of 87. In 2001, the municipality restored the house in the center of Vransko where Schwentner was born in, and opened it as a museum. Info: tel. +386(0)41 919 829, www.zkts-vransko.si.

VRANSKO FIREFIGHTER MUSEUM: The Firefighter Museum in Vransko has one of the largest collections of firefighting equipments, tools, uniforms, special decorations and other memorabilia in Slovenia, all of which has been carefully restored and is well-presented. For most visitors the highlight of the collection is 19th century sprinkler system mounted on a wooden cart, although when we were here most of our time was spent looking at the old photographs of volunteer fire brigades – which still play an important role in Slovenia, and currently count over 150,000 people among their ranks. Info: +386 (0)41 919 829, www.zkts-vransko.si.

To discover other unique places in Slovenia, check out THE SLOVENIA BOOK – AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO THE BEST OF SLOVENIA