Heritage Trails from the Idrijca to the Kolpa
Heritage Tours from the Idrijca to the Kolpa
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Dobrepolje - Rašica - Maršiči - Nova Štifta - Loški Potok - Osilnica

From the astonishing karst polje of Dobrepolje to the remarkable valley along the Čabranka River, we encounter thought-provoking natural phenomena, the green experience of former pastures, the intoxication of innumerable lindens, and the beneficence of places where our ancestors built their many sanctuaries. It is no wonder that Slovene literature developed here and that some of the most remarkable Slovene legends originated here as well.

Day 1:
From Ljubljana we take the road through Škofljica and Pijava Gorica to Rašica, where we turn to go to Dobrepolje. Dobrepolje is a typical karst polje, which can become a lake following the heaviest rains and where we find many interesting karst phenomena. One of the most interesting is Podpeška jama (Podpeč Cave), which erupts with water following a downpour. This cave, the first in Slovene history to get a detailed plan (drawn by Janez Vajkard Valvasor in the 17th century), sometimes functions as a swallowhole and sometimes as a fountain. Near Zdenska vas is the Svetoantonska jama cave, named after the church of St. Anton (1), where the local people hid from their enemies in the turbulent period of Turkish raids. In Ponikve we explore the church of St. Florijan. In Zdenska vas there are many of the preserved double kozolec (hay-drying racks) or toplars that give the villages of this area a characteristic appearance. A unique feature of Dobrepolje is Slovenia's largest linden grove. Below the crowns of the century-old lindens there were once regular livestock fairs, which today are being revived. In spring, the scent of linden blossoms invites us to lunch at a local gostilna.
From Dobrepolje we return to Rašica, where on the site of the former Trubar Homestead (2) stands the Temkov Mill with its memorial exhibition on Primož Trubar, the author of the first book printed in Slovene. The Homestead is one of the stops on the cultural footpath that links the homes of the authors Fran Levstik and Josip Stritar in nearby Velike Lašče. After lunch in Velike Lašče, we continue on to Ortnek, where we turn off the main road to Maršiči to admire the church of St. Urh (3) from 1450. Among its frescoes is the particularly interesting "pilgrim fox" clothed in the insignia of a Church dignitary and carrying a stolen goose in a sack. From here we drive to Nova Štifta, and the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (4). This Baroque pilgrimage church draws attention with its octagonal design, the arcade around the outside, the high cupola above the nave, and the garland of chapels inside. Near the church grows a group of linden trees, the largest of which is twenty-five meters high and 815 centimeters around.
After Sodražica we turn south toward the dry karst valley of Loški Potok. The center of this green valley is the village of Hrib-Loški Potok, which divides the valley into two parts. The landscape is a marvelous mosaic of low-lying cultivated fields, higher hay fields and pastures, and forests. We reach Osilnica through Croatia: from Loški Potok we drive to Trava and cross into Croatia at the international border crossing at Podplanina. After visiting Čabar, we follow the Čabranka River to Zamost, where we re-enter Slovenia just a stone's throw from Osilnica, where we enjoy dinner and remain overnight. Alternatively, we can skip Čabar and proceed directly downriver to the Zamost border crossing and Osilnica.

Kostel - Stari trg ob Kolpi - Rosalnice - Stopno - Šentrupert - Vesela gora - Trebnje - Zaplaz

Day 2:
In the morning we visit four of the seven churches in the Land of Peter Klepec (5). Driving back up the Čabranka Valley, we stop to see the churches in Žurge and Papeži, and then we visit the church in Čačič. Back in Osilnica, we enter the largest church in the area, the church of St. Peter and St. Paul. If time allows, we can take a walk in nature before lunch or abandon ourselves to the pleasures of the Kolpa River.
After lunch, our path leads to the recently restored church of St. Egidija in Ribjek, then to the St. Vid church in Bosljiva Loka, and as we leave the Land of Peter Klepec, to the church of St. Ana perched on a high promontory overlooking the Kolpa River. Above the village of Fara we stop to admire the Nežica waterfall, and then continue on to visit Kostel Castle (6) . The rest of the day can be spent relaxing beside the Kolpa River or enjoying any of the numerous recreational possibilities the area offers.
We enjoy a homemade dinner overlooking the river at Brsnik farther downstream, and then continue along the river to Žaga or on to Stari trg for a well-deserved overnight rest.

Day 3:
We begin our day in Stari trg ob Kolpi with a stroll through the settlement and a visit to the church of St. Jožef before continuing our tour toward Črnomelj and from there to Metlika.
Just under three kilometers from Metlika is Tri fare ("Three Parishes") in Rosalnice (7), a cluster of three Gothic pilgrimage churches from the 15th century.
We drive across the Gorjanci Mountain Range past Novo mesto to Škocjan, where we take the road to Stopno (8) and ascend the ancient pilgrimage footpath to the Church of Mary with its 15th-century frescoes by Janez of Ljubljana.
We continue on via Mokronog to Šentrupert and the church of St. Rupert (9), one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Slovenia.
From Šentrupert we go through the Mirna Valley and then toward Trebnje, but first we take a side trip to Vesela gora (10) where the pilgrimage church of St. Francis Xavier was built in the 18th century. Here we can admire the paintings by Fortunat Bergant, Valentin Metzinger, and Ivan Tušek.
In Trebnje we visit the Late Gothic Church of Mary with its altar painting by Matevž Langus. In front of the church stands a monument to the famous missionary and bishop Friderik Baraga, who worked among the North American Indians. If time allows, we can take the Baraga Footpath from Trebnje Castle to the missionary's birth house in Knežja vas and return to Trebnje via Dobrnič. Then we head toward Čatež to visit the double-steepled Church of Blessed Mary (11) in Zaplaz, one of the most remarkable pilgrimage sites in Dolenjska. Near it is a spring whose water supposedly has healing powers and is particularly helpful for eye diseases.
After our strenuous day, we conclude our tour with dinner in one of the area's gostilnas.

(1) Videm Dobrepolje Parish Office, Videm NN, Videm (01/780-72-07); or:
Jože Zrnec, Zdenska vas 51, Videm (01/780-71-51)
(2) Trubar Homestead, Rašica, Velike Lašče (01/788-10-06); every day med 9:00 in 18:00,
in winter by prior arrangement
(3) TIC Ribnica, Škrabčev trg 40, Ribnica (01/836-93-35)
(4) Nova Štifta Franciscan Monastery, Nova Štifta 3,
Sodražica (01/836-15-91)
(5) Osilnica Parish Office, Osilnica 21, Osilnica (01/894-16-30, 031/767-596); by prior arrangement
(6) Castellum Tourist Office, Fara 25, Vas (01/894-80-10, 041/754-094); by prior
arrangement or
TŠD Kostel, Hrib 6, Vas (01/894-21-75)
(7) Metlika Parish Office, Mestni trg 14, Metlika (07/305-83-31)
(8) Škocjan Parish Office (07/307-70-07); by prior arrangement
(9) Šentrupert Parish Office, Šentrupert 20, Šentrupert (07/304-00-38); by prior arrangement
(10) Information: Peter Kurent (07/343-45-50)
(11) Čatež-Zaplaz Parish Office, Čatež 17, Velika Loka (07/348-90-14); church is open all day Sunday, weekdays by prior arrangement; additional information: Mr. Stopar near the church (07/348-90-31)