ŽIROVNICA: Where Prešeren took his first steps

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The fabulous municipality of Žirovnica is made up of several picturesque villages and settlements nestled at the bottom of the 2,236m Mount Stol just off the main road north from Ljubljana and a couple of kilometers from the Austrian border.

A land of meadows, forests and mountains, Žirovnica is known as the cradle of Slovenian culture, famed as the birthplace of several of the country’s most important writers including France Prešeren, Matija Čop, Fran Saleški Finžgar and Janez Jalen. Also well known for its historical bee-keeping traditions, Žirovnica is a delightful blend of the rural and the intellectual and is a recommended spot for a visit any time of the year.

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There are enough good reasons to spend time in Žirovnica to fill a decent-sized book. Highlights include a trip to the France Prešeren and Matija Čop birthplace museums in Vrba and Žirovnica where the lives of these two great literary giants are celebrated. Both museums also serve as tourist information points, where it’s possible to book a guided tour along the Žirovnica Cultural Heritage Path which connects several cultural attractions in the region together. The archaeological site of Ajdna above the village of Potoki is another must-see. The remains here date from the 5th and 6th centuries and are from a small community who were seeking refuge from various northern tribes after the fall of the Roman Empire on the rocky slopes of Mount Stol. The site offers a fascinating diversion for those with the energy to scale the side of the mountain and/or an interest in the history of the period. The Završnica Recreational Park is located in the Završnica Valley and provides a welcome relief from the many examples of culture Žirovnica has to offer. Bursting with green meadows and fragrant forests, the park is easily reached and provides plenty of opportunities for escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life in the form of hiking, climbing or just relaxing by the lake with a picnic. Other bucolic breaks include visiting the pastures of Potoška, Žirovniška, Zabreška and Doslovška planina, or enjoying the sweet experience of a bee-keeping adventure. Anton Janša (1734-1773) was a pioneer of modern apiculture and the first teacher of bee-keeping at the Emperor’s Court in Vienna. Janša began keeping bees in the village of Breznica, and the apiary he founded still exists and is open to visitors. We strongly recommend you buy some of the local honey and drop in at the parish church in the village before you leave. The excellent website at www.visitzirovnica.si provides even more information about this fascinating location and can also recommend the best places to spend a night or two when visiting.  www.visitzirovnica.si.


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