Pile-dwelling heritage of Ljubljana Marshes
Pile-dwelling heritage of Ljubljana Marshes
Ljubljana Marshes are a unique intertwining of meadows, fields, hedges and canals near the Slovenian capital. The green surfaces touch the sky and the Ljubljanica River, which co-created them through history. Six millennia ago, there was a lake here around which over 40 pile-dwelling settlements were built over three millennia. Due to its rich heritage, Slovenia’s pile-dwellings became an important part of UNESCO World Heritage.
Ljubljana Marshes are a unique intertwining of meadows, fields, hedges and canals near the Slovenian capital. The green surfaces touch the sky and the Ljubljanica River, which co-created them through history. Six millennia ago, there was a lake here around which over 40 pile-dwelling settlements were built over three millennia. Due to its rich heritage, Slovenia’s pile-dwellings became an important part of UNESCO World Heritage. The oldest wooden wheel with an axle was preserved here. The remnants of the interesting prehistoric culture of pile-dwellers can be seen at the City Museum of Ljubljana, the National Museum of Slovenia or the permanent exhibition of pile-dwellers in Ig. Welcome to Ljubljana Marshes which provide many opportunities for an adventurous visit and a trip into the past.
The remains of pile-dwellings in Ljubljana Marshes take us back to the time of permanent settlements in the pre-Alpine region and the beginning of agriculture and also the Iron Age. Organic remains of pile-dwellings were preserved in the marshes due to their constant humidity. Tools, pottery, food, textile and parts of buildings were discovered in the layers of soil. Archaeologists have found over 10,000 artefacts from different historical periods, which is why the pile-dwellings near the Alps joined the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011. The two groups of pile-dwellings in Ig are among the best preserved 111 sites.
The pile-dwellers (about 5,000-1,000 B.C.) had a unique culture. They lived in pile-dwellings, i.e. wooden settlements built on piles which were set on the bottom of marshes or lakes. Slovenia’s pile-dwellings represent the south-eastern part of the entire Alpine group. Copper production started very early, and the oldest wooden wheel with an axle in the world has been preserved here, made by a skilful craftsman some 5,200 years ago. Archaeologists discovered the wheel, made of ash wood, from a two-wheeled cart pulled by oxen in 2002.
A visit to Ljubljana Marshes is particularly interesting in spring and autumn when Karst waters rise up to the level of the former lake in just a few days. The pile-dwellings can be found on the eastern side of the Marshes which extend over 160 m2 at Mah pri Igu. Since this specific heritage is not visible on the surface, many information panels, exhibitions and collections at the National Museum of Slovenia and the City Museum of Ljubljana are available. You can also use the mobile application Palafittes. New experiences are provided by thematic educational trails, such as the Bevke Educational Trail (learning about the co-existence of people and the marshes), the Corn Crake Educational Trail (bird watching) and the Educational Trail along the Iška River (significance of water in the marshes). Many interesting guided tours for individual explorers and groups are available at the park.
The Nature Park is very lively in the summer, when popular outdoor events and activities take place. Attend the traditional 10-kilometre walking tour around Ljubljana Marshes on 23 May. Free guided tours along one of the park’s educational trails are organised on 24 May, the European Day of Parks. Do not miss the Blueberry Festival in Borovnica near Ljubljana. The largest plantations of American blueberries in Slovenia can be found here. You are invited to Pile-Dwellers’ Day in Draga pri Igu on 22 August.
Wet meadows, flood groves and many kilometres of drainage canals in Ljubljana Marshes are home to various animals. The marshes are home to over one hundred species of birds, some 90 species of butterflies and dragonflies and amphibians. Interdependent ecosystems of Ljubljana Marshes clean the air, water and soil, cool the hot summer days and enable relaxation in the immediate vicinity of the capital. Due to its preserved nature and the functioning ecosystem, Ljubljana Marshes are protected as a nature park.
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