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Vršič, Russian Chapel

Vršiška cesta 4280 Kranjska Gora
Above the road rising at the south side to the 1611 m high Vršič Pass, stands an unusual monument from the times of World War I. The Russian Chapel was erected in memory of the suffering of thousands and the death of several hundred Russian prisoners. Next to it is a small cemetery.  The bodies of the dead Russians are mainly buried in the tomb to the left of the chapel. A stone pyramid serves as the tombstone, with the Cyrillic inscription 'Synam Rossii' (to the Sons of Russia). A staircase leads to the chapel; next to it is a Russian grave with a concrete Orthodox cross. 

Because of problems supplying the Isonzo hinterland, even before the outbreak of the war the Austrian army decided to build a mountain road over Vršič. Due to the lack of labour, they used the Russian prisoners of war for the construction. The intensive work started in autumn of 1915. In winter, on 12th March 1916, from the steep slopes of Mojstrovka an enormous avalanche buried a large number of prisoners and their guards.  Nobody knows the exact number of those who died, but the data reveals that 170 to 300 Russian and 10 to 80 Austrian soldiers lost their lives. The idea of setting up a monument came while burying the victims.

Russian prisoners had finished building the wooden chapel with volunteer work by the 1st November 1916.  It is set on a stone foundation and designed as a central area with two small towers at the sides. The small towers are finished in the style of Baroque cupolas, as this was known in Russia.  

The construction is wooden. First it was planked with bark, later it was boarded.  The roof is made of shingles and small boards, as are the bulbous endings of the two small towers on the left and right of the entrance. The inner area is small and modest, simply painted in white. On the altar the icon of the Mother of God stood during the war, but after the war it disappeared. The complemented altar is made of cut tree logs; on it is the iconostas with icons, painted in oil technique. The interior is decorated with forged chandeliers and candlesticks and the photography from the opening ceremony.

By the chapel every year a solemn memorial mass is organized with the help of Russian priests and other high representatives of the country.  The chapel is freely accessible.

Russian chapel below the Vršič mountain pass (360°)


Kranjska Gora Tourist Information Center 
Tičarjeva 2 
Kranjska Gora 
Tel. : ++386 4 580 94 40 
Fax : ++386 4 580 94 41 
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GPS Northing (N) : 46,4429 
GPS Easting (E) : 13,7677 
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