I’ll be away for a few days with hubby….a bit of relax in south France…..
I’ll be away for a few days with hubby….a bit of relax in south France…..
We crossed the border to Austria and drove till the Millstatter See (lake Millstatter) where we found a nice B&B in Seeboden, Haus Hatrieb, with a nice view from our balcony….
We felt immediately at home, being in Austria is just like home, and the beauty of the place helped a lot
And the lake in itself was a real pleasure to enjoy
One day we drove through a beautiful valley till the Ossiacher See……last time we were there was in 1995….
Ossiach Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery now one of the venues of an annual music festival called “Carinthian Summer” and it houses also a very good hotel…..the attached church…is still a church…
In 878 the East Frankish king Carloman of Bavaria dedicated the Treffen estates around Lake Ossiach to the Benedictine monastery of Ötting. In the late 10th century the lands passed to the Bishops of Passau and later to Emperor Henry II, who conferred them to a certain Count Ozi, affiliated with the Styrian Otakar dynasty and father of Patriarch Poppo of Aquileia. A church probably already existed at Ossiach, when Count Ozi about 1024 established the Benedictine abbey, the first in the medieval Duchy of Carinthia. The first monks probably descended from Niederaltaich Abbey in Bavaria. Ozi’s son Poppo succeeded in removing the proprietary monastery from the influence of the Salzburg archbishops and to affiliate it with the Patriarchate of Aquileia, confirmed by Emperor Conrad II in 1028. Upon the extinction of the Styrian Otakars in 1192, the Vogtei of Ossiach according to the Georgenberg Pact passed to the Austrian House of Babenberg. In 1282 it finally fell to the Habsburgs.
Ossiach Abbey was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1783, after which the buildings were used as a barracks. In 1816 the premises were largely demolished. Between 1872 and 1915 the few remaining buildings were again used as a barracks and as stabling. Since 1995 the premises have been owned by the administration of Carinthia.
According to legend, King Bolesław II the Bold of Poland, after he was banished in 1079 for the murder of Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów and had fled to Hungary, wandered through Europe and found peace at last when he arrived at Ossiach in 1081. There the king is said to have lived in the remote monastery as a mute penitent for eight years humbly doing the meanest and lowliest jobs, until on his death bed he told his father confessor who he was and what he had been doing penance for. The legend is documented since the 15th century; whether Bolesław actually ever lived at Ossiach could not be conclusively clarified. Bolesław’s alleged tomb is embedded in the northern side of the church wall, a Roman marble relief depicting a horse with the Latin inscription: REX BOLESLAVS OCCISOR SANCTI STANISLAI EPISCOPI CRACOVIENSIS (“Boleslav, King of Poland, Murderer of Saint Stanislav, Bishop of Cracow”).
The church since the dissolution has served the local parish. Two stained glass windows were donated by Karl May in 1905, though according to recent research the popular writer had probably never visited Ossiach. The Romanesque church itself was first mentioned in 1215, built on the groundplan of a basilica, with the tower above the crossing. Restored in a Late Gothic style after a fire in 1484, the abbey, a member of the Benedictine Salzburg Congregation from 1641, was extensively altered in the Baroque period, including stucco decoration of the Wessobrunner School.
We had lunch at the same restaurant of 22 years ago (now completely renovated), and in the afternoon we just relaxed enjoying the view….
Another short drive was through another beatiful landscape towards Osstirol region and the village of Matrei……
…..just to have lunch at a place we already love and appreciated over the years….
We spent our last day in Austria driving along the Drava valley…..
so to reach the village of Spittal…..
We’ve been there already recently, in 2015, so I just wandered around taking more pictures, enjoying the sights….for more about the castle, read here….
And with that our vacation was over….sadly enough…but we came back home with a lot to fill our photos’ album and our souls….
Slovenia is really a beautiful country to discover on a motorbike, roads well maintained, good rest areas, and so very green! We enjoyed so very much driving along the Isonzo valley….
Can you see me below?….
We visited the village of Kranjska Gora, in the north of Slovenia.
Every year, the Kranjska Gora resort hosts several major sporting events, including the World Cup ski jumping and ski flying competitions in Planica and the Vitranc Cup alpine skiing competition. Kranjska Gora also plays host to various entertainment, cultural and folklore events. What is special about Kranjska Gora’s ski offerings is the diversity of its ski runs, which provide excellent skiing opportunities for anyone from beginners to top-class skiers and are accessible practically from the doorstep of the resort town’s hotels. Kranjska Gora’s surrounding areas offer over 40 kilometres of well groomed cross-country ski trails, and the slopes of the surrounding mountains excellent opportunities for off-piste skiing, ice climbing and tobogganing.
During the summer months, the most popular activities are hiking and trekking. Kranjska Gora has a wide diversity of routes, from the easiest recreational ones to serious trekking routes suitable only for experienced and appropriately equipped mountaineers accompanied by a mountain guide. One of the routes particularly worth mentioning leads to the two Martuljek waterfalls. Another interesting route, known as the Triglavska Bistrica River Path, runs through the Vrata valley, past a string of natural attractions of the Triglav National Park. A number of scenic high mountain routes start from Vršič, Slovenia’s best known mountain pass. Kranjska Gora also provides numerous opportunities for mountain biking. The lovers of adrenaline-fuelled experiences can go on an attractive downhill ride in the area’s mountain bike park or visit the Besna Pehta summer toboggan run. For golf lovers there is a practice field at the confluence of the Pišnica and Sava rivers.
The beginnings of tourism in Kranjska Gora go back to the year 1902, when the Razor Hotel was opened as the first hotel in the area, followed by the establishment of the Kranjska Gora Resort Society two years later, whose purpose was “to promote the circulation of foreigners in Kranjska Gora”. At the beginning, the hotel mainly hosted tourists, who came to Kranjska Gora for its healing climate, hiking and mountaineering. After the Slovenian Mountain Society was established, the number of visitors to the mountains increased. Again, the Razor Hotel was the place where the Mountain Rescue Service of Slovenia was founded in 1912.
If you are a lover of Late Gothic art, you should definitely see the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Originally it was named the Church of Our Lady of the White Gravel, but only a brick belfry in the Romanesque style was preserved.
In 1510, today’s church was designed by master Jernej Firtaler from Villach. The Corinthian influence is particularly visible in the nave arch, which is decorated with intertwined ribs and is the most interesting arch of this type not only in the Upper Sava Valley, but also in Slovenia. In front of the church stand the busts of men, important to the Upper Sava Valley – Josip Lavtižar, Simon Robič and Lovrenc Lavtižar.
We could only imagine the atmosphere of the village in winter, all covered with snow….
We had a nice day on the banks of Lake Bled…..
The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origin. It is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long and 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide, with a maximum depth of 29.5 m (97 ft), and it has a small island. The lake lies in a picturesque environment, surrounded by mountains and forests. Medieval Bled Castle stands above the lake on the north shore. The Zaka Valley lies at the west end of the lake. The World Rowing Championships in 1966, 1979, 1989, and 2011 were held at Lake Bled.
The lake surrounds Bled Island. The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, built in its current form near the end of the 17th century, and decorated with remains of Gothic frescos from around 1470 in the presbyterium and rich Baroque equipment. The church has a 52 m (171 ft) tower and there is a Baroque stairway from 1655 with 99 stone steps leading up to the building. The church is frequently visited and weddings are held there regularly. Traditionally it is considered good luck for the groom to carry his bride up the steps on the day of their wedding before ringing the bell and making a wish inside the church.
After the mountains and the lake, it was time for the sea….
Koper is a city in southwestern Slovenia, with the other Slovenian coastal towns Ankaran, Izola, Piran, and Portorož, situated along the country’s 47-kilometre (29-mile) coastline, in the Istrian Region, approximately five kilometres (3.1 miles) from its border with Italy. Having a unique ecology and biodiversity, it is considered an important national natural resource. The city’s Port of Koper is the major contributor to the economy of the eponymous city municipality. With only one percent of Slovenia having a coastline, the influence that the Port of Koper also has on tourism was a factor in Ankaran deciding to leave the municipality in a referendum in 2011 to establish its own. The city is a destination on a number of Mediterranean cruising lines, with the season spanning from March to December.
The city of Koper is officially bilingual, with both Slovene and Italian as official languages. Sights in Koper include the 15th-century Praetorian Palace and Loggia in Venetian Gothic style, the 12th-century Carmine Rotunda church, and the Cathedral of St Nazarius, with its 14th-century tower.
Sadly this was also our last day in Slovenia…..we came back with so many amazing memories of this new (for us) country that left us the feelings that’s so much more to explore…..
But our vacation wasn’t over…..we were then ready for Austria!
The central square in Ljubljana is Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg).
It’s no exaggeration to say that Prešeren Sqaure is not only the centre of Ljubljana, but truly the spiritual centre of the Slovene nation – and more practically the defacto meeting point in the city. It is part of the old town’s pedestrian zone and a major meeting point, where festivals, Ljubljana carnival, concerts, sports, political, and protest events take place. It was renovated in 2007. To the south, across the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), it is connected to Stritar Street (Stritarjeva ulica), which leads through a symbolic town gate formed by the Kresija Palace and Philip Mansion towards the city’s town hall at the foothills of the Castle Hill. At the eastern side of the square, a bronze statue of the Slovene national poet France Prešeren with a muse was placed in front of the Central Pharmacy. One of his poem, “A Toast”/ “Zdravljica” became the national anthem. The poet’s statue is symbolically faced by the statue of Julija Primic, his great love, mounted on the facade of a building located across the square, in the Wolfova ulica.
The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is a Franciscan church; Its red colour is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order. Since 2008, the church has been protected as a cultural monument of national significance of Slovenia. Built between 1646 and 1660 (the bell towers following later), it replaced an older church on the same site. The early-Baroque layout takes the form of a basilica with one nave and two rows of side-chapels. The Baroque main altar was executed by the sculptor Francesco Robba. Many of the original frescoes were ruined by the cracks in the ceiling caused by the Ljubljana earthquake in 1895. The new frescoes were painted in 1936 by the Slovene impressionist painter Matej Sternen.
The front facade of the church was built in the Baroque style in 1703–1706 and redesigned in the 19th century. It has two parts, featuring pilasters with the Ionic capitals in the lower part and pilasters with Corinthian capitals in the upper part. The sides of the upper part are decorated with volutes and at the top of the front facade stands the statue of Our Lady of Loretto, i.e. Madonna with Child. It has been made of beaten copper by Matej Schreiner upon a plan drawn by Franz Kurz and Thurn und Goldenstein. The faces and the hands were modelled by Franc Ksaver Zajec. The statue replaced an older wooden statue of a Black Madonna in 1858. The facade also has three niches with sculptures of God the Father above the main stone portal, and an angel and the Virgin Mary in the side niches, work by the Baroque sculptor Paolo Callalo. There is a stone entrance staircase in front of the church. The wooden door with reliefs of women’s heads dates to the 19th century.
Ljubljana Cathedral or St. Nicholas’s Cathedral (stolnica sv. Nikolaja), serves the Archdiocese of Ljubljana. Easily identifiable due to its green dome and twin towers, it is located at Cyril and Methodius Square named for Saints Cyril and Methodius by the nearby Ljubljana Central Market and Town Hall.
The site of the Cathedral was originally occupied by a three-nave Romanic church whose earliest mention dates back to 1262. After the fire of 1361 it was re-vaulted in the Gothic style. When the Ljubljana Diocese was established in 1461, the church underwent several alterations and additions. In 1469 it was burnt down, presumably by the Turks. Between 1701 and 1706, a new Baroque hall church with side chapels shaped in the form of the Latin cross was built to a design by the Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo. As the church’s dome was only built in 1841, originally a fake dome was painted on the arch above the centre of the cross. The surviving Baroque interior decoration notably includes frescoes by Giulio Quaglio (painted in the periods 1703-1706 and 1721-1723), Angelo Putti’s statues of four bishops of Emona situated beneath the beams of the dome (1712-1713), Putti’s painting of Dean Janez Anton Dolničar (1715), who initiated the rebuilding of the church in 1701, Francesco Robba’s altar angels in the left part of the nave (1745-1750) and brothers Paolo and Giuseppe Groppelli’s altar angels in the right part of the nave (1711). A host of other works of art were added later. One of the more interesting is the dome fresco painted by Matevž Langus in 1844. The most outstanding 20th century additions include Tone Demšar’s main entrance door relief depicting the history of Slovenia, commissioned to mark the 1250th anniversary of Christianity in Slovenia, and Mirsad Begić’s side doors with portraits of bishops.
Only a tourist train leaves Prešeren Square every day, transporting tourists to Ljubljana Castle.
The castle of Ljubljana is just one of the castles in the city but certainly the biggest one and also the most visited. Built in the middle of the 15th century, today it is a popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners also. No wonder. It offers an outstanding view over the city, a romantic athmosphere and a place of numerous cultural events. Guided tours of the castle are conducted every day. The castle is depicted on the city’s coat of arms, along with a dragon on top.
When in 1335 the Habsburgs took over the area of today`s Slovenia, they demolished the fortress of the Spanheim family, which stood on the hill, and in the second half of the 15th century started building a new one that still stands today. At first it consisted of only walls, towers and wooden barracks but through centuries the castle got the shape that it has today. Its main purpose was to defend against Turkish invasions, which were the most frequent in the 15th and 16th century. Besides, peasant rebellions were not rare as well. In the 17th and 18th century the castle had the function of a military hospital and an arsenal. When in 1809 Napoleon brought freedom and cultural and national enlightment to the citizens of Ljubljana, the war with the Habsburgs broke out. During this war the Pipers tower was demolished and a new wooden one erected on the place of today`s stone one. After the French had left, the Habsburgs used the castle for jails. Several famous people were jailed in the castle, including the Italian revolutionary Silvio Pellico, the Hungarian Prime Minister Lajos Batthyany and the Slovene author Ivan Cankar. The jail period lasted until the end of the Second World War, when first Italians and after their capitulation Germans took over the management of the castle. Until 1963 ostracized citizens of Ljubljana lived on the castle in terrible conditions. In the 70s the renovation began and today the castle is a popular tourist destination for home and foreign visitors.
The castle Chapel of St. George, on the basis of a document of the year 1489 emitted by the emperor, was consecrated to St. George, St. Pancracio and the Empress Helena. The original entrance to the chapel was in the north; it was reached along thirteen steps and is in use to this day. The original Gothic chapel had openings in the ceiling, counted four gothic windows and a balcony from which the nobles listened to the Holy Mass. This construction was restored in Baroque style and in the year 1747 they added images of the shields of the governors.
Above the Chapel stands the panoramic tower….
….if you’re brave enough to climb the many, many steps inside, you’re awarded with a beautiful view over the castle courtyard, and the amazing view of the city…
Can you recognize some of the places I told you about…..from ground level?
We walked one morning through the east part of town, past more stunning buildings…
…..to have lunch in a very special place, enjoying some beautiful music…
…..before reaching the nice Tivoli Park, where we spent a lazy afternoon….
We had a great time in Ljubljana, and we highly recommend a visit there, history, magic places, good food and beers, and so very nice people….
A simple walk through Ljubljana it’s a really nice experience…..especially along the river banks, full of restaurants, bars and shops…
Below, Novi trg. The name Novi trg, which originally referred to a separate urban area on the left bank of the Ljubljanica river, is now used in reference to an open space in the centre of Ljubljana’s elegant quarter extending between the Križanke Summer Theatre, Vegova ulica street and Dvorni trg square. Settled in the 12th century, the area was only incorporated into the city and its walls in the 14th century. A new city gate was built near the present Dvorni trg square and named Vice Duke’s Gate (Vicedomska/Fištamska vrata) after the nearby Vice Duke’s Palace (Vicedomska/Fištanska palača), which stood on the site of the present University of Ljubljana building. The buildings surrounding Novi trg notably included the Carniolan provincial estates palace called Lontovž, which occupied the site of the present Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and Auersperg Palace, Ljubljana’s most beautiful Baroque palace, destroyed in the earthquake of 1895. The site of the latter is now occupied by the National and University Library, built by the architect Jože Plečnik between 1936 and 1941. The building located at the top of the square, at No. 3 Gosposka ulica street, is Barbo Palace (Barbova palača), built at the beginning of the 1750s on commission from Count Barbo von Waxenstein. It was designed by the architect Matija Persky on the model of Viennese palaces of the time.
You have to walk with your nose up to see all the beauty on the city old buildings…..
(below St. Jacob Church)
(below,the oldest students residence)
(below, Ljubljana Opera House) The theatre building, constructed in 1892, has a varied history. At the turn of the 20th century it housed first the German Theatre (Nemško gledališče) and then the Provincial Theatre (Deželno gledališče). 1918 saw the establishment of the theatre’s opera and ballet ensembles and orchestra, which, after the Second World War, began to tour outside the country and receive international acclaim. The Opera House’s façade has two niches adorned with Alojzij Gangl’s allegorical statues of Tragedy and Comedy. The building’s characteristic appearance is mainly due to the richly adorned front façade with Ionic columns supporting a majestic tympanum above the entrance. The allegorical sculptures in the tympanum represent Poetry and Glory, and the figure with a torch above them – another work by Alojzij Gangl – an allegory of Genius. The stone pedestals in front of the building support the busts of the Slovenian theatre artists Anton Verovšek and Ignacij Borštnik sculpted by France Kralj in 1921, and the pedestal by the side of the building Stojan Batič’s portrait sculpture of Julij Betetto.
Republic Square, at first named Revolution Square, is the largest square in Ljubljana. It was designed in the second half of the 20th century by Edvard Ravnikar. On 26 June 1991, the independence of Slovenia was declared here. The National Assembly Building stands at its northern side.The four-storey building is externally austere. A freestanding cube, is inlaid with Karst marble, with green Oplotnica granite below each window. The only decorative element is the two storey main portal – four oak doors surrounded by statues by Zdenko Kalin and Karel Putrih which represent working people.
Congress Square (Kongresni trg) is one of the most important centers of the city. It was built in 1821 for ceremonial purposes such as Congress of Ljubljana after which it was named. Since then it became an important center for political ceremonies, demonstrations and protests, such as the ceremony at creation of Kingdom of Yugoslavia, ceremony of liberation of Belgrade, protests against Yugoslav authority in 1988 etc. The square also houses several important buildings, such as the University of Ljubljana Palace, Philharmonic Hall, Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Slovene Society Building. Star Park (Park Zvezda) is located in the center of the square.
(below, the University of Ljubljana)
Town Hall (Mestna hiša, Magistrat), located at Town Square, is the seat of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. The original building was built in a Gothic style in 1484. Between 1717 and 1719, the building underwent a Baroque renovation with a Venetian inspiration by the architect Gregor Maček, Sr.
Near Town Hall, at Town Square, stands a replica of the Baroque Robba Fountain. The original has been moved into the National Gallery in 2006. The Robba Fountain is decorated with an obelisk at the foot of which there are three figures in white marble symbolising the three chief rivers of Carniola. It is work of Francesco Robba, who designed numerous other Baroque statues in the city.
The Vodnikov square was built after the devastating earthquake of 1895, when an old monastery housing a diocesan college and a library had to be pulled down. The space gained was dedicated for use as an outdoor market. The square was named after the Slovenian poet Valentin Vodnik, whose monument by Alojzij Gangl had stood on its site since 1889. Across the street from the monument, which gives the square a special character, a walking path leads to Ljubljana’s castle hill. From Monday to Saturday, the square is the site of Ljubljana’s Central Market (Osrednja tržnica), which stretches from the Dragon Bridge across the Pogačarjev trg square to the Triple Bridge. The lower, riverside end of the square is occupied by a monumental colonnade building designed by the architect Jože Plečnik’s. The building houses a covered part of the Central Market and thus serves its original purpose.
The National and University Library, whose archives contain, among other things, a rich collection of medieval manuscripts, incunabula and Renaissance prints, was built between 1936 and 1941 to designs by Jože Plečnik. It is considered to be the architect’s most important work in Slovenia. It stands on the site of the former Ducal Court (Knežji dvorec), a 17th century Baroque palace destroyed in the earthquake of 1895. The building’s exterior reflects Italian influences. Its characteristic façade, combining bricks and stone blocks in variable finishes, was modelled on Zuccari Palace (Palazzo Zuccari) in Rome. Each of the two handles on the main entrance door is decorated with a head of Pegasus, a winged horse symbolically guiding visitors to the realm of knowledge. From the vestibule, a door leads to the famous monumental central staircase with 32 pillars of black Podpeč marble and further on to the library’s grand reading room. The reading room’s most outstanding details are Plečnik’s chandeliers and a couple of glass walls allowing light to reach wooden reader desks and books from two sides. The Library’s side entrance is surmounted by a bronze statue of Moses by the Slovenian sculptor Lojze Dolinar.
(below, the Glasbena Matica, the music cultural association house)
I was in Budapest some years ago, and the majesty of Ljubljana reminded me a lot of the hungarian capital, I was so impressed by the history among all those beautiful buildings and streets and squares…
And then we hit the road again, for a short transfer to Ljubljana, where we stayed at a very convenient hotel, being it near to the most amazing part of the town.
Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. It has been the cultural, educational, economic, political, and administrative center of independent Slovenia since 1991. Its central geographic location within Slovenia, transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions, and cultural tradition are contributing factors to its leading position. During antiquity, a Roman city called Emona stood in the area. Ljubljana itself was first mentioned in the first half of the 12th century. It was under Habsburg rule from the Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. Situated at the middle of a trade route between the northern Adriatic Sea and the Danube region, it was the historical capital of Carniola, a Slovene-inhabited part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
While looking through the photos I needed for my blog, I realized I had so many of them and many very similar, taken in different days and times….I got a little confused about how to post them here, so I decided to show this beautiful city by “subject” hoping to be able to do so (it won’t be easy I guess…)
Back in the 13th century, the Order of Teutonic Knights, the so called Knights of the Cross, settled at the upper end of the Novi trg square and built a church there. The only surviving item from the church is the famous relief of the Madonna of Krakovo from the church’s main portal. The relief, created between 1265 and 1270, is now kept at the National Gallery of Slovenia. Back in the day the church has also been referred to as the Monastery Church of Our Lady of Mercy. The present Križanke Church was built between 1714 and 1715 by Domenico Rossi, one of the leading Venetian architects of the time. This indicates that the only church of the cross located on Slovenian territory was of great importance not only to the Knights of the Cross but also to the imperial court in Vienna, which donated interior furnishings. Side altars were painted by the court painters Martin Altomonte and Anton Schoonjans. The main altar painting, a work by Johann Michael Rottmayr which burnt down in the 19th century, was replaced by a painting by the Viennese painter Hans Canon in 1859. Too bad the church is not open to tourists…..
The church is located next to the Križanke Summer Theatre (once part of the monastery, now renovated) where the Opera Music Festival is held every summer.
Near the church, just at the corner with Gosposka ulica…..
…..there’s Križevniška ulica, beside Metelkova (the artists’ neighbour) the most gypsy street in town…..photos studios, tattos’ parlors, craft shops and alternative restaurants……
(can you spot me above?)
Ljubljana is crossed by a river with the same name. From Roman times to the construction of the railway in the mid-19th century, the Ljubljanica was a major trade and supply route. On its way to Ljubljana, the river flows through the unique natural landscape of Ljubljana Marshes. Its bed is one of Slovenia’s most important archaeological sites. Excavations have yielded objects dating from prehistory to the early modern period. Archaeologists believe that the river once had a cult status. During our stay we crossed it so many times through its most famous bridges……….
The site of the present Cobblers’ Bridge, built by the architect Jože Plečnik between 1931 and 1932, was formerly occupied by a covered wooden bridge connecting the Mestni trg and Novi trg squares, two major parts of medieval Ljubljana. The bridge provided space for cobblers’ workshops – hence the name Cobblers’ Bridge. At its south end it was decorated with a statue of Christ, now kept in the Church of St. Florian. The 19th century saw the building of a new, cast iron bridge. On the initiative of the architect Jože Plečnik it was later moved to a site opposite Ljubljana’s maternity hospital to connect the Zaloška cesta and Poljanska cesta roads. The present Cobblers’ Bridge was conceived as a broad balustraded platform connecting two different parts of the city. It was made of artificial stone like another of Plečnik’s creations, the Triple Bridge. The characteristic appearance of the Cobblers’ Bridge is due to its balustrades with short balusters and tall, different sized pillars topped with stone balls. The central two pillars support lamps and are slightly shorter, which gives the bridge a uniquely dynamic appearance. On the sides, the bridge platform is decorated with a geometric pattern.
The Triple Bridge is a group of three bridges, connecting two parts of Ljubljana’s downtown, located on both banks of the Ljubljanica. Originally, there was only a single bridge, which linked Central Europe and the Balkans. In order to prevent an 1842 stone arch bridge from being a bottleneck, two additional pedestrian bridges on either side of the central one were added in 1932 according to the Plečnik’s 1929 design. He decorated them with large stone balusters and lamps. There are two staircases, leading to terraces above the river, the banks with poplars, and the Ljubljana fish market. Two Plečnik’s urban axes of Ljubljana, the water axis and the Ljubljana Castle–Rožnik Axis, cross at the bridge.
Trieste is a few km from the slovenian border. We crossed it one day, just to see once more, if necessary, that war is really a madness from any point of view and at any time……
We started this particular journey on italian ground, at Redipuglia War Memorial, a World War I memorial located on the Karst Plateau near the village of Fogliano Redipuglia. It is the largest war memorial in Italy and one of the largest in the world, housing the remains of 100,187 Italian soldiers killed between 1915 and 1917 in the eleven battles fought on the Karst and Isonzo front. The name Redipuglia seems to have origin from the slovenian word “sredij polije” meaning “middle earth”….
The Memorial of Redipuglia was built on the slopes of Mt. Sei Busi and designed by architect Giovanni Greppi and sculptor Giannino Castiglioni, it was opened on 18th September 1938 after ten years of construction. This massive monument, also known as Memorial “of the Hundred Thousands”, accommodates the remains of 100.187 soldiers who fell in battle in the surrounding areas; some of them had been initially buried on Colle Sant’Elia nearby.
Strongly advocated by the fascist regime, this monument intended to celebrate the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers as well as provide a dignified resting place to those fighters who could not be buried in the cemetery of the Undefeated. It is structured on three levels, symbolising the army descending from the sky, led by its Commander towards the Path of Heroes. On the top, three crosses evoke Mt. Golgotha and the crucifixion of Christ.
Leaving your car in the esplanade before the Memorial, the visit can kick off past the chain of the destroyer “Grado”, an Austro-Hungarian vessel seized by the Italians after the war. Heading towards the tomb, you walk along the “Path of Heroes”, a paved road lined by 38 bronze plaques indicating the villages on the Karst that were contended during the Great War.
At the end of this fascinating walk, you can see the majestic tombs of the generals, including the one of the Commander of the Third Army, Emanuele Filiberto Duke of Aosta, who had expressed his wish to be buried here. The tomb consists of a 75-tonne block of red marble from the Camonica Valley. On the side, there are the granite tombs of five generals: Antonio Chinotto, Tommaso Monti, Giovanni Prelli, Giuseppe Paolini and Fulvio Riccieri.
Behind the tombs, 22 large steps (2.5m high, 12m wide) rise, containing the remains of 39857 identified soldiers in alphabetical order. Each burial niche is surmounted by the wording “Present” and can be reached via the lateral stairs leading to the top. In the centre of the first large step, you can find the niche of the only woman buried here, a nurse named Margherita Kaiser Parodi Orlando, while the 22nd step accommodates the remains of 72 soldiers from the Navy and 56 from the Customs Corps.
At the end of the lateral stairs and the large steps, two large tombs covered with bronze plates contain the remains of over 60 thousand unknown soldiers. Past them, you can reach the top of the memorial and visit a small chapel which houses a “Deposition” and the panels of the Stations of the Cross by sculptor Castiglioni. Three bronze crosses stand above the chapel.
In the rear of the last large step there are two museum rooms: inside, you can admire pictures of the first Memorial of Redipuglia, documents, war relics and paintings by Ciotti that used to decorate the tomb of the Duke of Aosta, originally located in the chapel on the top of St. Elias Hill. On the top, at Height 89, you can see an Observatory and a model of the area showing the borderline as of 24th October 1917, the day of the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo.
After the visit, in what seemed a surreal mood, we crossed the border to Slovenia heading towards Caporetto (once on italian soil), Kobarid in slovenian, and after lunch we visited the local museum.
The Kobarid Museum, awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for the year 1993, tactfully presents the most extensive story about the First World War on the Slovenian territory by means of photos, maps, models, weapons and personal items of soldiers as well as a documentary film. This story speaks about the ferocity of mountain warfare in the Julian Alps, about the Isonzo Front, and the 12th Isonzo Battle in particular. It was one of the greatest mountain encounters in the history of warfare in which the joint German and Austro-Hungarian forces defeated the Italians by employing new military tactics, pushing the enemy westwards all to the river Piave. The damnation of wars and suffering they bring to the mankind is at the heart of the Museum’s message.
This museum is devoted almost entirely to the Soča Front and the ‘war to end all wars’. Themed rooms describe powerfully the 29 months of fighting, and there’s a 20-minute video (available in 10 languages) that gives context. There are many photos documenting the horrors of the front, military charts, diaries and maps, and two large relief displays showing the front lines and offensives through the Krn Mountains and the positions in the Upper Soča Valley. The Krn Range Room looks at the initial assaults along the Soča River after Italy’s entry into the war in May 1915. The White Room describes the harsh conditions of war in the snowbound mountains. The Room of the Rear describes life behind the battle lines (hospitals, soldiers on leave from the trenches) – a sharp contrast to the Black Room’s photographs of the dead and dying. Finally, the Battle of Kobarid Room details the final offensive launched by the Austrian and German forces that defeated the Italian army.
Why Hemingway? The 1917 Battle of Caporetto, where the Italian retreat, was documented by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms.
There are also some very old finds on display in some rooms, found while excavating the ground after the battles, that tell the story of the region………..
….ages before others men fought and died on the same ground….
It was a stressful day, full of horrible images, but sadly I’m sure we’ll have to suffer many more wars before maybe, one day, human race will eventually learn the lesson….