Kočevje sits in the middle of a karst polje. Its origins date to the 14th century when the Ortenburgs started to bring German settlers to work the land. At that time they built the manor house in Mahovnik and a settlement developed around it later on. In 1847., coal was discovered at Šalka vas near Kočevje. The lake Rudniško jezero between Kočevje and Šalka vas sits on the former coal mine and is a kilometer long and up to 60 meters deep.
Since an underground stream constantly brings in freshwater, the lake is crystal clear. Over the last years, its shore has been cleaned as well, which makes it increasingly visited by tourists.
Through the Kočevje Plain winds the small Rinža River which disappears into the sinkholes immediately after Kočevje.
Behind Mala Gora stretch vast forests of the Kočevski Rog. The Kočevsko Plain is surrounded by forests stretching all the way to the Krka and Kolpa Rivers and further on to the Croatian Gorski Kotar, and on the other side to Snežnik and further on to Ilirska Bistrica. Forests abound in-game, you can even chance upon a bear, wolf, or lynx.
The German-speaking Kočevars left the country at the beginning of WW II and forests have overgrown over 50 abandoned villages. In WW II the Kočevski Rog sheltered the headquarters of the Slovene resistance – it was called Baza 20.
One of the roads from Kočevje leads through Dolga vas and Livold where a side road branches off to the southeast and leads to Bela Krajina, while the main road turns south towards several small settlements in the Kolpa valley and brings us via the Brod na Kolpi border crossing to the Croatian Gorski Kotar.
The whole area to the southeast, between Kocevje and the Croatian border, was a closed territory after WW II. Kočevska Reka in the Goteniška dolina valley was its center. Dam on the local stream in a wild gorge under Kočevska Reka is 2 km long while the surrounding forests are full of game. Areas so unspoiled and so unsettled are scarce in Europe.
State border with Croatia runs along the deep Čabranka valley until it joins the Kolpa River and then along the beautiful Kolpa valley.
On a serious cape above the confluence of the two rivers sits a touristically developing village of Osilnica and on the slopes of Goteniška Gora lies several smaller settlements.
Further down the Kolpa lies the valley Poljanska dolina one of the remotest areas in Slovenia with Stari Trg ob Kolpi as its center. In Predgrad is an old castle building and in the deep Kolpa valley some smaller settlements. The Poljanska dolina was named after the Ortenburg Castle which was built there in the 14th century. Today it is an area which offers a lot of farmhouse accommodation and the Kolpa River gives it special magic.
In the formerly closed district under Kočevska Reka is a 2km long dam. “Former ” Slovene politicians came to the district for fun, hunting, and fishing and the latter is also the reason why they built the dam on the Mokri Potok stream. Today the district is open and the dam abounds in carp.
The steep stony Loška Stena ( 875 m ) rises above the valley of the bordering Kolpa River. On a rocky cliff above the Kolpa valley is Kostel Castle. During the Turkish invasions, the well-fortified castle played an important defense role and provided shelter for local inhabitants. Today the castle is under reconstruction. It might become a popular tourist spot in the future.