Heritage Trails from the Idrijca to the Kolpa
Heritage Tours from the Idrijca to the Kolpa
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WHERE THE WITCHES BEWITCHED NATURE
Laze - Jakovica - Cerknica - Križna jama - Snežnik Castle
ONE-DAY TOUR

Life in Notranjska's karst poljes has always been full of legends and stories through which the people tried to account for the unusual natural phenomena found here. According to folk tradition, witches live on Mount Slivnica above Cerknica Lake. Who knows whether they really bewitched the world whose face they fashioned of disappearing streams and depressions, caves and stalactites and stalagmites, and an outstanding wealth of botanical peculiarities?

We leave the Ljubljana-Koper expressway at the Logatec exit and take the secondary road toward Laze on Planinsko polje where the Unica River meanders lazily in many bends before disappearing underground near Laze. Its swallowhole below the settlement of Staje is covered with an iron grid to prevent the stream from becoming blocked. In honour of the inventor of this unique technical achievement, the locals call it "Putickove štirne." In nearby Jakovica, one of the smallest pilgrimage churches in Slovenia stands right above a water spring.
We continue on to Cerknica, which has an interesting old town core. The appearance of the town is marked by the Nativity of Mary church that was rebuilt after being burned down during a raid by the Turks and encircled with a wall that remains partly preserved today. Beyond the town opens Slovenia's largest karst polje on which Slovenia's largest lake appears and disappears: the intermittent Cerknica Lake. You can enjoy a presentation of the annual cycle of this karst phenomenon, which astonishes us in every season with its various appearances, in the museum in Dolenje jezero. The model of the lake in the Jezerski hram Museum (1) explains the origin of Cerknica Lake and shows the working of its numerous swallowholes.
The most beautiful view of the lake and the polje spreads from the top of Mount Slivnica (1114 m), which we can reach on foot or by car. In dry periods we can walk on the polje or take a ride in a hay wagon. We can complement the discovery of this world famous natural phenomenon with some local delicacies. At one of the tourist farms in the area they will happily serve us an authentic meal.
The road that leads below the high Bloke plateau takes us to Križna jama cave (2). Through the dry entrance area past the Bear Passage where the bones of numerous cave bears rest, we descend slowly to the underground river. We ride boats through the water passage and in the light that reflects in the magical blue-green colour of the water we marvel at the many stalagmites that rise everywhere from the surface of the underground river.
From Križna jama it is only a few kilometers to the Snežnik Castle Regional Park (3). Along with the castle, its park, and its avenues of lindens and chestnuts, we can also visit the source of the Mali Obrh, one of the seven tributaries of the Ljubljanica River. The castle, which is the focal point of the park and also serves as a protocol center for the Republic of Slovenia, boasts the original furnishings and artworks from the time of its last private owners, the Schönburg family.
To round off a beautiful day spent on this Heritage Trail, we will enjoy a dinner in one of the friendly gostilnas of the region.





NOTES:
(1) Jezerski hram Museum, Dolenje jezero 1e, Cerknica (01/709-40-53, 041/561-870);
open Saturday and Sunday from 15:00 to 17:00 by prior arrangement
(2) Alojz Troha, Bloška polica 7, Grahovo (041/632- 153); every day by prior arrangement
(3) Snežnik Castle, Kozarišče 67, Stari trg pri Ložu (01/705-78-14, 01/705-84-00); open Wednesday to Friday from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00; Saturday, Sunday,
and holidays from 10:00 to 18:00; Mondays and Tuesdays by prior arrangement