Tourist Information Center:TIC Koper
Titov trg 3, 6000 Koper
++386 5 664 64 03
Height above sea level
in the countryside
Črni Kal is a village on the sunny side below the Karst Plateau along the Koper - Ljubljana regional road.
Črni Kal is surrounded by layers of Palaeogene flysch and limestone forming steep cliffs in several places. One of these, north of the village, is a quarry, while the flysch areas provide more favourable conditions for fruit and wine growing. The centre of the village is on flysh soil with the hamlets of Barkole, Brandolini and Katinara (Spodnji Črni Kal). There are important archaeological sites and cultural remains from the Palaeolithic Age. There is a Palaeolithic cave site in the quarry that was discovered in 1955 by Srečko Brodar (containing a Mousterian or Middle Palaeolithic stone spear and a fireplace with charcoal). This closely built Istrian Karst village developed along an important trade channel leading from the Rižana Valley inland, especially to Carniola. The village was famous for its vine, as reported by Janez Vajkard Valvasor in his Slava vojvodine Krajnske (The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola). The steep cliff above the village, which is separate from the Karst edge, shows the remains of the former fortified tower that was constructed in the 11th century on the orders of the Istrian margrave Ulrich I of Weimar to protect his Istrian estates and the trade route between the Rižana Valley and the Karst Plateau. In the first period, it belonged to the bishops of Trieste and this important stronghold came into their hands in 1370 with the Venetian conquest of Istria. After the Austro-Venetian war in 1508-1516, the fort in Črni Kal, which provided excellent control over the »Emperor’s Road« from the Rižana Valley across Trpce, past Soligrad and Prešnica to Klanec and from there to Carniola, belonged to the Socerb nobility and was thus directly annexed to Carniola in 1521. In 1615, during the sanguinary Uskok War, the Črni Kal fort was devastated and only its ruins remain today. The storied stone houses, mostly from the 16th and 17th centuries, indicate a rich stonecutting tradition. Among the oldest farmhouses in Slovenia is the famous Benkova hiša (Benko House), built in 1489 by Andrej and Benko from Sočerga. According to the inscription in the Glagolitic alphabet, they also built the neighbouring house. With regard to the time of its origin, the Benko House could be classified as Renaissance but its firm rustic features give it a Romanesque design. The mighty portal on the south façade is closed with a semicircular lintel made from a single stone and the small window in the upper storey gives the house a fort-like appearance. The construction itself, from symmetrically cut square stones, is late-Gothic. The lintel above the portal carries the year of construction and the signature of both masters: ANDREAS ET BENCO CONSTRUXERUNT. The noted mason and stonecutter Benko from Sočerga is also famous for his work in Predloka and Buzet. Originally, the Benko House was a single-storey house, while it was expanded by another storey in the 19th century. The walls show clear traces of the former gable that suggests a rather steep roof slope, which was initially covered with stone plates – slates. The wall of the newer house, which is built against the Benko House on the east side, has two built in stone plates with inscriptions in the Glagolitic alphabet. Originally, they were probably part of the portal of the older house that stood in this place and that formed a uniform building together with the Benko House. The inscriptions give the construction year as the second half of the 15th century, and the names Andrejašič and Bažec, which could refer to either the masters or the house owners. The village was burnt down during the German October offensive in 1943. Below the village, along the Koper-Ljubljana regional road, there is a memorial for those fallen in the National Liberation War and right before the turning for Osp, there is a stone sculpture on the bend in the road in the shape of three prows in memory of the Overseas Brigades. Despite the devastation during the National Liberation War and some newer constructions, the majority of the village at least partially maintains the traditional Istrian architecture that was shaped through the centuries and which is a valuable witness of the former way of life of the local rural population.