Bela Krajina (White Carniola)
It is an undulating plain surrounded by the Kočevski Rog in the west, the Gorjanci in the north, and the Kolpa River in the south and east. The whole plain is eroded, full of sinkholes, and covered with heavy red karst soil. Bela Krajina is at its most beautiful in spring.
At the foot of Poljanska gora springs out the Lahinja river and its numerous tributaries. The small river meanders among the low hills of Bela Krajina and soon flows into the Kolpa which then makes a big curve around the Metlika Plain and leaves Slovenia at the village of Rakovec. The state border with Croatia and the Kolpa River go their separate ways from here on.
The Pannonian climate allows the inhabitants of Bela Krajina to grow vine. Winters are mild and summers hot with the little precipice. For centuries, the region has been one of the poorest in Slovenia which consequently led to huge emigration at the turn of the century. It was only after WW II that its economy recovered. During WW II, Bela Krajina was the center of Slovene resistance.
Its villages have preserved the most of traditional folklore in Slovenia. The area is named after traditional white clothes worn by men and women in their everyday life up to WW II. Today, the costumes are only worn at traditional dance festivals.
Metlika was first mentioned in writing in the 13th century. It was given a charter in 1335. Its position by the Kolpa River made it an important military camp and market center. The Metlika Castle houses the Bela Krajina Museum. In Rosalnice, not far from town are three churches built in a row that used to be the seat of the first Metlika parish.
Gradac in Bela Krajina sits by the Lahinja River at the road linking Metlika and Črnomelj. The village is built around the 13th-century castle.
Črnomelj sits on a promontory at the confluence of the Lahinja and Dobličica rivers. It was a market town already in the 13th century and was given a charter in the 15th century. During the Turkish invasions, a strong wall was built around it.
At Rožanec, near the railroad between Črnomelj and Sremič is a Mithraic shrine. On Kučer ( 222 m ) near the village of Podzemelj, archaeologists have unearthed the richest site in Bela Krajina. Copper and iron objects testify to the importance of the settlement in prehistoric times.
Semič sits at the foot of the last Gorjanci hills. The steep slope looks like a colorful patchwork of vineyards and wine cellars. Atop Sv. Lovrenc ( 546 m ) are ruins of the Smuk Castle and at Stranska vas near Semič lies, under a rocky cliff, the spring of the Krupa River. There is a road leading from Semič through the Crmosnjica valley to Dolenjske Toplice and Novo Mesto.
The Semič wine-growing district is very famous. The hospitality of the locals, unspoiled nature, bathing, boating, fishing, varied traditional food, and, of course, the wine, bring more and more people to Bela Krajina.
Tri fare by the village of Rosalnice near Metlika has been there for centuries. Its name is not derived from three parishes which might have had their seat there, but from three churches which share only one belfry, and which are, God knows why, squeezed together behind one wall. Metlika Castle houses the Bela Krajina and Firefighting Museums.
A strong current of the Krupa River comes from the karst underground under a steep rocky wall. In the Postojna cave lives a veritable cave dragon – the “human fish ” whose skin color resembles that of a human. In the caves of Bela Krajina, also by the source of the Krupa, live black “human fish”.