From the marshes to the underground
Slovenia has a number of cultural and natural gems with exciting stories and beauty. Six of these are now on the UNESCO World Heritage Lists. Learn about them in way that is as exciting as possible and discover why they are so exceptional. Go back to the time of pile-dwellers from the Ljubljana Marshes, a time when mercury was still mined and acquired in Idrija, to the Middle Ages, when the famous Škofja Loka Passion Play was created in the town of the same name. Descend into the mysterious subterranean world of the Škocjan Caves, and meet Ptuj's herald of spring – the Kurent.
Idrija's story of mercury
Do you know how mercury is obtained? You can learn about this in an exciting way in Idrija, where for many years cinnabarite for refining mercury was mined. The spirit of the mining times can still be sensed at every step. See for yourselves as you take a stroll through Idrija with a local guide, who will show you the remains of mining tradition and reveal how miners and their families used to live in Idrija. Enter Anthony’s Main Road (mining tunnel), which is now open for tours. While you learn about the hard work of miners, your children will be entertained by the mischievous mining dwarf Perkamdeljc, who will take them on a hunt for the cave treasure. At a mercury smelting plant, you can see how drops of mercury used to be extracted from ore. In order to better understand Idrija's geological composition, you can use the Turf Hunt mobile application to interactively explore the Idrija Geopark, which is a member of the UNESCO Geoparks.
In the footsteps of the world’s oldest wooden wheel with an axle
The Ljubljana Marshes once provided shelter to pile-dwellers, prehistoric people, who left us many valuable treasures. The greatest treasure is surely the more-than-5200-year-old wooden wheel with an axle, which is the oldest in the world. You can see the wheel and the rest of the pile-dwellers’ legacy at the City Museum of Ljubljana or see the My Ljubljanica Collection in Vrhnika. At the National Museum in Ljubljana, you can learn about pile-dwellers through the family adventure called Pile-Dwellers and the Lost Dagger. Although there are no longer any visible remains of pile-dwellings in the marshes or they are hidden deep under the marshes, you can experience the pile-dwellers’ living environment in a modern way, e.g. at the Pile-Dwellers Day in the Land of Pile-Dwellers in Ig at the end of August.
A journey to the Middle Ages
The Škofja Loka Passion Play, a manuscript dating back to 1721, is the oldest fully preserved Slovenian dramatic text. It is kept at the Capuchin Library. Every six years, the Passion Play is performed in the streets of Škofja Loka. The next time will be in 2021. However, in order to keep the tradition going, the Škofja Loka Passion Play Days are held every year during Lent. You can learn about the Škofja Loka Passion Play and Škofja Loka’s other interesting features on the interactive Romuald’s Path. You can see an exhibition on the Škofja Loka Passion Play at the museum at the Škofja Loka Castle. Visit the Historical Festival and go back to the time when the Passion Play was created. You can even buy a passion play souvenir, a piece of the long artisan and handicraft tradition in Škofja Loka.
A masterpiece of nature in the ground of the Slovenian karst landscape
Underneath the karst landscape, there are a number of cave networks, which will take your breath away as you witness nature’s creativity. One such example are the Škocjan Caves, unique caves in Slovenia, which have also been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition to guided cave tours, you can also visit interesting museum collections in the vicinity, where you can learn everything about how the caves were created and about the life on the surface, or you can go a walk down a well-maintained educational path.
Learn about the wild heart of the Kočevje region
Deep in the heart of the vast forests of the Kočevje region, you can find forest oases, where no human has ever been before. This includes the Krokar primeval forest, the remains of age-old beech forests, which will take your breath away with its pristine appearance and centuries-old giant beech trees. You can encounter this forest up close on the Borovec Hiking Trail. You can also experience authentic contact with nature on the Rog Hiking Trail or on the Bear Trail. The forests of Kočevje are the realm of the brown bear and the dwelling place of lynx, wolves, rare bird species, and other animals, which you can observe or photograph on organised photo hunts.
The playful heritage of Ptuj
Another special Slovenian feature that made its way on the UNESCO World Heritage List are the door-to-door rounds of the Kurenti masks. Their time comes in early spring, during carnival, when the traditional Kurentovanje celebration is held in the historical town on the River Drava, but you can see this furry herald of spring on any day of the year too. Visit the Regional Museum at Ptuj Castle and see the ethnographic exhibition, where you can learn in greater detail about this hero of the Ptuj Shrovetide Carnival and other accompanying masks. You can also encounter the Kurent in the Kurent Room of the Ptuj Tourist Information Centre, or you can visit the artisan Klinc Kurent Costume Workshop and see how Kurent costumes, known as kurentije, are made.
Slovenia will surprise you at every step
In addition to the sights that have already been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, there are also some that are still on tentative lists. Also make sure to explore other beautiful places in Slovenia and its stunning natural and cultural heritage.