ljubljansko barje

Cultural heritage and landscape

Man had settled on the margins of Ljubljansko Barje long before venturing into its heart for the first time. The visitors can see traces of the people's habitation, work and spiritual life virtually on every safe elevation. They will in fact find it quite difficult to look around without letting their eyes dwell on numerous Romanesque and Gothic little churches standing on every hillock. And at least at two Churches of St. Michael they should well shorten their stride. At Iška vas, for example, the builders of the village church helped themselves with material nearest at hand - the Roman tombstones! In the middle of Črna vas, the place that was given its name after houses protected with the black palustrine soil, the great architect Jože Plečnik created a lace-like masterpiece out of white stone.

Ramming of piles into the ground for house foundations required much strength and persistency, and above all skilled work, for the Barje pardons no carelessness and rashness.Up to two hundred at least six metres long piles were rammed manually into the ground for a single, usually by six men and with the aid of a ram weighing more than a hundred kilos.

In the last few millennia, the environment of Ljubljansko Barje has undergone some stormy changes: from the shallow lake to the cultural landscape with some wetland elements, as is its image today. The changes, however, affected not only the landscape, but nature as well. Some plant and animal species disappeared, while others, better adapted to the new life conditions, settled here for the very first time. One of the regular guests of the shallow Barje lake at the time of pile dwellers was the pelican. Prior to the initial land drainage, the moors were inhabited by cranes and geese. But the changes were slow and nature followed them with ease and managed to retain its diversity. And so has been till these very days, when enviable biodiversity can still be noted in the Barje's cultural landscape. But, for how long?

The Barje plains cover a good 15,000 hectares. As the true palustrine peat has almost gone, the Barje's natural values are not hidden in the scanty remains of the past but in the rich cultural landscape. At Ljubljansko Barje, the latter has retained its traditional character, for the high groundwater level and regular floods prevent intensive farming and reduce its economic efficiency. Today, the Barje is an endless mosaic of grasslands, litter woodlands, fields, ditches and hedges, while the interlacement of all these diverse habitats is home to numerous plants and animals that can rarely be still seen elsewhere in Slovenia and Europe in general.