Mura River Biosphere Reserve
The mouth of the Mura River, which is often referred to as “the European Amazon”, stretches across several European countries, including Slovenia. In July 2018, UNESCO declared a floodplain along the Mura River in the territory of Slovenia as part of a global network of biosphere reserves. This biosphere reserve includes the largest preserved complex of floodplains in Slovenia, “where the interweaving of natural factors and human presence has created an exception cultural riverine landscape”. The river and the countryside there are home to many species of fish, a valuable nest of black stork and other interesting animals and plant species. The region along the Mura River is a popular tourist destination, offering many cycling and walking routes. While enjoying the nature, you can also taste excellent food and drinks, along with rich cultural tradition of Pomurje.
Idrija and its mercury heritage
Idria and the Spanish town of Almaden are the keepers of the globally important mercury mining heritage. Anthony’s Underground Mining Tunnel, dating from 1500, is known as one of the oldest mine entrances in all of Europe. It is open for tours during which you can learn about old mining methods. What is more, there is also a mine dwarf waiting to surprise you. Numerous attractions in Idrija are connected with the mining heritage and the life of the former mining families: from the surprising technical heritage maintained by the museum at Gewerkenegg Castle to the tradition of original lace making.
The Ljubljana pile-dwellers and the oldest wheel in the world
Slovenia is one of the countries safekeeping the protected world heritage of the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps. Nine pile dwellings were discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes, and the most important findings is a 5200-year-old wheel, which is considered to be the oldest wooden wheel with an axle in the world! Findings related to the pile-dwelling culture are on display in various museums, and the Ljubljana Marshes is a landscape park, where you can explore the natural features of the marshy area near Ljubljana.
About 100 species of birds nest in the Ljubljana Marshes. They also include numerous endangered and rare species. Most of them can be observed at the Iški Morost reserve, where there is also an educational trail.
Škofja Loka Passion Play
The oldest Slovenian play has been re-enacted on the streets of the medieval town centre of Škofja Loka since its origin in the time of Baroque. Rich costumes and scenery and the numerous, over 900-member ensemble of local actors attract many visitors to Škofja Loka for every performance. This is a unique historical re-enactment, which is performed every six years due to its complexity. The next performance will take place in 2021. Škofja Loka Passion Play was entered on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Door-to-door rounds of Kurenti
When you hear cowbells in the Ptuj area in February, you will surely know that spring is approaching. The bells are only a part of the costume of a Kurent, a traditional Shrovetide character, typical for Ptuj, the Drava Field, the Haloze Hills, and the Slovenske Gorice Hills. A Kurent wears a sheepskin, a distinctive head mask, high-ankle shoes, and red or green knitted socks. In its hand, it spins a ježevka, a thick stick with hedgehog spines. Its roots are from Slavic mythology, and it is considered to chase away winter and herald spring and a good harvest. The door-to-door rounds of Kurenti have been entered on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A unique tribute to this custom are the traditional Kurentovanje celebrations in Ptuj.
Other treasures of Slovenia to be included in the World Heritage
The five UNESCO world heritage items make Slovenia one of the richest guardians of the treasures of humanity in relation to its population. There are even more exceptional items from Slovenia on the Tentative List, on which items under consideration for World Heritage status are listed.
Franja Partisan Hospital
The Franja Partisan Hospital operated during World War II in a hidden gorge of a wild stream with difficult access. In its barracks, nearly 600 wounded soldiers were treated in a year and a half. This incredible symbol of humanity and unique example of the medical treatment of people under exceptional circumstances has been a worthy aspect of European heritage for a long time, and its entry into the UNESCO list is now pending. An arranged path through a picturesque gorge now takes visitors to the hospital, which has been fitted out for historical accuracy.
The architectural legacy of Jože Plečnik and his original approach to buildings and urban planning includes the most beautiful features of Ljubljana. This legacy is on the UNESCO Tentative List together with selected works that he designed in Prague. Plečnik’s unique architecture can be seen if you take a stroll through the capital of Slovenia. Discover Plečnik’s Ljubljana – from the marketplace to the library, from the Three Bridges to the church in the Ljubljana Marshes.
Walk of peace
The valley of the River Soča (Isonzo) and Karst were the scenes of numerous battles during the First World War. Today this area provides an idyllic picture of mountain backdrops offering abundant scope for active leisure pursuits. The Walk of Peace, which runs from the Alps to the Adriatic, is both a commemoration and a reminder of times of war and also a way of getting to know the wonderful natural environment along the emerald River Soča. Discover a world of underground bunkers, firing trenches, military cemeteries, charnel houses and outdoor museums. Owing to its mission and its homage to peace, the Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic – Heritage of the First World War is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.
Fužinske planine Plateau at Bohinj
The Fužinske planine Plateau, which is part of the protected Triglav National Park, rises above the villages of Studor and Stara Fužina in Bohinj. Although it was named after the ancient iron extraction works (ironworks—fužina) in this area, it played a key role in another important activity of locals—Alpine dairy farming. Mountain meadows at the altitude of about 1,000 m were great pastures for livestock in the summer. The idyllic shepherds’ huts are also one of the charms of the pastoral mountains. There are also small cheese dairies here, which are home to the most recognisable tastes of the cheeses of Bohinj, including a special cheese—Mohant. After the grazing season in the mountains, livestock is brought back to the valley and that is the time to be merry. You can experience that at the traditional Cows' Ball in the middle of September and at the same time, taste the genuine flavours of the cheeses of Bohinj along with wine at the Cheese and Wine Festival.
People used to think of Karst as a barren stone-covered region which is unpleasant to live in and where strong bora blows. The name “Karst” comes from the Indo-European word for a stone. Today, Karst looks very different, covered in forests, attractive settlements and vineyards. An even more interesting story of Karst is hidden below the surface. The subterranean world of Karst is crisscrossed with wonderful karst caves where subterranean rivers have created magnificent natural sculptures. Thanks to explorers who learned about the karst phenomena in Slovenia, the Slovenian name Kras (Karst) has spread worldwide. A good word is also spread about the Karst delicacies which are a fruit of the fertile karst land, bora and hard-working locals.
UNESCO’s global geoparks in Slovenia
Global and European networks of geoparks were formed within the framework of UNESCO. The networks include areas with exceptional geological characteristics and where special attention is dedicated to the landscape and the preservation and research of geological assets in the sense of sustainable development. There are currently two such geoparks in Slovenia, which are involved actively in the European and global networks of geoparks: the cross-border Karavanke/Karawanken Geopark and the Idrija Geopark.
Karavanke/Karawanken Geopark lies between Mežica and Mt Peca and extends to the Austrian side. It boasts unique flora and beautiful minerals, which can be rarely seen anywhere else in the world. Some of the minerals were exploited below Mt Peca and Mt Obir as ore in the past, but today they can be admired in museums. Unforgettable adventures await you in the deserted mine in Mežica where you can explore the underground of Mt Peca by bike or kayak. The powerful natural forces have also formed beautiful caves with stalactites and stalagmites below Mt Obir.
Idrija Geopark stretches over the area of the eponymous municipality. Diverse geological soil composition was the basis for the development of the mercury mine, which was once the second largest mercury mine in the world. Today the mine and its appertaining infrastructure serve tourism purposes. Natural gems of the area include the Wild Lake (Divje jezero) and Zgornja Idrijca Natural Park. Higher sections of the geopark provide excellent opportunities for recreation. Bikers and hikers can enjoy this area in the summer, while skiing is possible in winter on the Vojsko and Črni Vrh plateaus. To regain your strength, try Idrija žlikrofi, while some will be enchanted by the delicate art of Idrija lace.