Kamnik, Kamniška Bistrica, Litija, Vače

Kamnik

Kamnik is one of the oldest Slovene towns. The medieval town core is partly preserved. In the 12th century, Kamnik with its castle atop the steep hill was the most influential town in Carniola. But already in the middle of the 13th century, Ljubljana gained supremacy. Over the centuries Kamnik was the town of craftsmen and artisans: blacksmiths, nail-makers, leather merchants, and furriers.

The main sights to see are the Little Castle ( Mali grad ) with partly reconstructed walls, and the two-story Romanesque church built between the 11th and 15th centuries. Some of the old town walls with a defense tower still stand near the town cemetery. Among the orchards on the slopes of the Tunjiški griči, above the old town core, sits the 16th century Renaissance manor house Zaprice. Today it houses a museum.

The town also boasts a 15th-century Franciscan monastery with a very interesting library. Mekinje ( Municipality in Slovenia ) with its 14th-century monastery today also makes part of Kamnik. From the ruins of the Old Castle ( Stari Grad ), perched atop the 180 meters high hill above the town, are great views of the upper part of the Kamniška Bistrica valley and mountains behind it, as well as of Kamnik which lies virtually at your feet.

The Nevljica stream comes from the Tuhinj Valley between the Old Castle and Mekinje and flows into the Kamniška Bistrica. The Kamniška Bistrica valley widens here and splits into two narrow gorges. From the east gorge flows the Črna stream. The villages of Črna, Potok, and Krivčevo are squeezed at the bottom of the valley and higher up, on the slopes of Lorn ( 1148 m ), is Kališe. The road through this valley leads to the Upper Savinja Valley ( Zgomja Savinjska dolina ) over the Črnivec pass ( 902 m ).

Kamniška Bistrica

The Kamniška Bistrica valley is in the west shut off by the Krvavec ridge and in the east by Velika Planina ( 1666 m ), a ski center and the most authentic urbanized area in Slovenia. Old shepherds’ huts have been changed into a large holiday village. Velika Planina is accessible by cable car.

The Kamnik-Savinja range is the last part of the European Alps with peaks above 2000 m. The head of the Kamniška Bistrica valley is encompassed by the highest peaks of the range: Grintovec ( 2558 m ), Skuta ( 2532 m ), Brana ( 2252 m ), and Planjava ( 2394 m ). Between the last two peaks is the saddle Kamniško sedlo ( 1903 m ) and right behind it stretches the Logar Valley ( Logarska dolina ).

In a deep basin lying among white rocks and lush green vegetation springs the Kamniška Bistrica. All clear and virgin, it is immediately captured into a small lake. Then it continues its journey down the valley and soon enters the picturesque Predaselj gorge.

Litija

The Sava runs from Dolsko through a deep narrow valley between steep slopes. Settlements in wooded hills around the valley are small and scarce. Above Vernek stood once a castle which used to guard the transport route passing through the area.

Litija was a far nobler town in the past than it is today. Ever since Roman times, it was an important river port. It also had smelteries. In Stritarjevec ( 448 m ) there was a lead mine that closed in 1927. Despite that Litija remained a market town until WW II. It only became a town in the second half of this century.

Šmartno pri Litiji sits on the plains surrounding the Črni Potok stream. The Črni Potok valley boasts two castles, one of the same names as the stream, and another situated on the ridge of the hill between the Črni Potok and the Kostrevniški Potok stream. The latter is called Bogenšperk. In 1672 it was purchased by Baron Janez Vajkard Valvazor, the author of the famous book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola. Publishing the Book ruined him financially and he was forced to sell the castle. The castle has been renovated and today it houses a museum.

Vače

High up in the Zasavje hills lies to the north of Litija the village of Vače, mostly known for its Early Iron Age archaeological finds. The famous Vače situla, a bucket-like vessel from Hallstatt culture, used in rituals, was found here. Geographically, Vače is the center of Slovenia.

All that is left of the former mansion house in Dol pri Ljukljani are ruins and a large castle park – a botanical garden with over 7000 plants. Sadly, it is not very well tended. Beautiful classicist pavilions have been restored. Members of the Ljubljana high society used to gather in the mansion, which was once a museum.

Geographically, Litija is the center of Slovenia. It sits by the Sava at the foot of the Zasavje Range. It is a starting point for excursions to Janče, Velika Štanga, Obolna, Sveta gora, Vače, and GEOSS ( Geometrical Center-Point of Slovenia ) on Slivna.

It is also renowned for its Mardi Gras carnival. Glavni trg in Kamnik is only one part of the interesting old town core, above which are proudly perched partly reconstructed walls of Little Castle and the Romanesque church.

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