ljubljansko barje

Natural treasures


At its first source under Mt Snežnik it is called Trbuhovica, then Obrh, Stržen, Rak, Pivka and Unica, until reaching Močilnik near Vrhnika after its long journey through the karst underground and erupting on the surface as the Ljubljanica river. After a good forty kilometres of gradual descent, with less than a meter drop across the Barje, it joins the Sava at Podgrad near Zalog. Its natural meandering course was changed for the first time by the Romans, who needed a faster traffic link between the Podpeč Quarry and the building sites of Emona. Its image, and the entire Barje with it, was changed to the greatest extent in the period of the great drainage works, primarily with the construction of the Gruber Canal (1772-1780) between Grajski hrib and Golovec and with the regulation of the river bed in Ljubljana. The Ljubljanica was an important traffic route until the trunk road and eventually railway were built between Vienna and Trieste. In its history, however, it was much more than this. The exceptional votive finds from the most diverse historical periods in its bed suggest that it had a ritual meaning as well.


White shells of fossil bivalves in dark grey limestone - the ornamental combination that convinced the Romans to divert the Ljubljanica bed by leading it passed the Podpeč Quarry. They transported the stone blocks by boats to Emona and embellished the most important town buildings with them. This continued for several centuries, making many of the locals respected stonecutting masters. The staircase of the National and University Library in Ljubljana, the work of Jožef Plečnik, shows the Podpeč marble in the best possible light. Today, the quarry is protected as a natural treasure, with only minor excavations allowed for the restoration of old buildings.


This little karst lake, situated in the valley near the village of Jezero, is virtually spherical in shape, with diameter of about 130 metres. The special feature of the lake is its water regime, with water flowing into it from seven surface karst sources and flowing out under the ground, through a deep aven. The greatest so far measured depth of the lake reached 51 metres, which makes it one of the deepest natural lakes in Slovenia. It has no usual bank, for the surrounding plain descends into the water with no fold at all. Lake Podpeč is suitable for bathing during the summer, as well as angling. From the lake, a hiking trail leads to the hill of Planinca, with its superb view of the Barje and its solitary hillocks.


This miniature discharge karst field (polje) is situated between the slopes of Mt Krim, along the Preserje - Dolnja Brezovica road. On the southern edge of the Ponikve Uvala, there are several springs, whose waters gather in a stream, which with it picturesque meanders crosses the field to the ponor caves on the northern and eastern edges of the field. Here it sinks and reappears on the edge of Ljubljansko barje below the village of Kamnik. During the high water period, a small lake is formed now and then.


The Iška river, which with is tributaries runs from the Bloke Plateau, cut into the ground some 300 to 400 metres deep gorge, which is in fact the sharpest natural demarcation line between the Dolenjska and Notranjska regions. Built of dolomite, the gorge is most picturesque, its banks offering the visitors a true botanical treasury. The pure river surmounts all obstacles arrayed on its way with numerous cascades, but here and there stops short in the inviting pools. From the guest house situated along the river, the European footpath E-6 leads along its left bank, while at the end of the warm season one must wade through some metres of cold water if wishing to continue his journey. If we stay on the left bank, the marked although steep path will lead us to the remains of the Krvavice partisan hospital.

The Iška Vintgar is one of the most popular excursion points in the vicinity of Ljubljansko barje. As early as at the beginning of the 20th century, the gorge gave shelter to the >Ljubljana forest people<, who in their naive attempt to return to nature abandoned their city life, worshipped the Sun and gathered herbs, living in simple huts.


The seven ponds in the Draga valley southeast of Ig originate from the 18th century, when clay was presumably to be dug there for the needs of the nearby brickworks and eventually to rear fish in the ponds. With their marginal reed beds, they have provided suitable living conditions for marsh birds, which breed, feed, overwinter or stop here during migration. Ornithologists have recorded over 130 bird species at the ponds, which are, for many of them, the last remains of the habitat that enables them to survive after the draining of Ljubljansko barje. One of their inhabitants is also the European Pond Terrapin, while the White Water Lily is amongst the ponds' most attractive plants. Above the Great Pond near the hunting cottage, there is the starting point of some 3 km long forest educative trail.


Squeezed between the Krim Mts on the one side and the Turjak hills on the other winds the long and at the end only few tens of metres wide Želimeljščica valley. It is sparsely inhabited and very popular particularly amongst cyclists. To the visitors, it offers unforgettable views at the blossoming wet meadows, where some rare butterfly and bird species have survived. The central village in the valley is Želimlje, for the first time mentioned in some sources as early as in the 13th century. Worth seeing is definitely the neo-Romanesque Parish Church of St. Vitus with Samass bell in its belfry. Here, the Slovene writer Fran Saleški Finžgar used to serve as a priest, and it is here that his celebrated novel Under the Free Sun was conceived. In the rectory, the memorial room is on display, while in front of the rectory a lime tree still stands, under which his novel was being supposedly written.


On the southern slope of Lesno brdo several quarries of black limestone are situated. Some 150 years ago, the limestone was used as building material called >the black marble<. It was particularly valuable for the making of richly and picturesquely treated portals, on which it used to be inscribed who lived in the building and what was his main occupation.
In marl layers of the lower quarry one can see 25 different types of fossils, mainly bivalves. Part of the quarry is a geological treasure, which is due to its geological and fossil characteristics considered a jewel of the Slovene natural heritage. Professionally led visits are organised by the Tourist Information Centre Vrhnika.


One of the rare remains of a raised bog in southern Europe can be found at Kostanjevica near Bevke. The peat bog, called Mali Plac or Mali Blatec, covers no more than 2 hectares. With little imagination, however, we can still form a good picture of Ljubljansko barje from the times when the process of peat growth just began and when the Barje was still under the water. Some time ago, the level of water was artificially raised in this remote valley, which means that we can now witness the intensive growth of marsh plants, while here and there peat mosses and flesh-eating sundews can be found. You can reach this natural treasure along the well maintained trail, whereas the Tourist Information Centre organises professionally led visits, combined with preliminary lectures and viewing of a documentary film. Not far away, Jurč's peat bog is situated, where the process of slow overgrowing of the raised bog and mouldering of the accumulated peat can be observed.


No far from the village of Goričica below Mt Krim, the Goričica Moss is situated, the largest and so far best preserved raised bog in the area of Ljubljansko barje. On the surface of almost 19 hectares and up to two metres thick layers of peat, we can find some very diverse vegetation associations, from peat moss to the stands of Downy Birch, Scotch Pine, Norway Spruce, and Glassy Buckthorn In the autumn months, we will be warmly welcomed and pleasantly surprised for by unusually beautiful, honey-carrying Heather plains.