The Lower Savinja Valley
In 1760 the Novo Celje Castle was built near Petrovče and the Vienna Schonbrun was used as the model. Dobriša vas and Vrbje are also nearby.
Before it reaches Prebold and Latkova vas, the Savinja turns northwest. The largest towns in this part of the valley are Šempeter and Žalec, the latter is also known as the hop growing center. Hops from Žalec are sold all over the world. Interestingly, Žalec received the market charter before Celje and yet Celje developed much faster than Žalec.
The village of Podlog near Šempeter is a starting point for the Pekel cave ( Jama Pekel ) which is open to tourists and where springs the Peklenšcica stream. The cave has two entrances linked by a forest study path.
Vransko’s development was paramount to the development of traffic. In the 16th century, it was a mail stop between Ljubljana and Graz. It became a market town in 1868.
At Dobrteša vas near Šempeter the road splits. One road and a rail line running along the east bank of the Savinja leading to the Paka valley. There is another road from Polzela leading via hilly Andraž and the Kavče village to the Šalek Valley ( Šaleska dolina ). Another road and railway leading to the Šalek Valley run more to the west through the Paka valley. The Paka flows into the Savinja at a mountain. A bit further up, at the beginning of the valley is Šmartno ob Paki.
There is yet another road leading to these parts from the main road linking Ljubljana and Maribor from Šentrupert. On its right side near the villages of Gomilsko and Šmatevž is Lake Žovnek ( Žovnesko jezero ) with the ruins of the Žovnek Castle perched above it. It was this castle that the family of the Counts of Cilli originated from.
Near the Braslovče village is Lake Braslovče ( Braslovško jezero ). Right after Letuš the valley narrows and the road splits. One fork leads east to Šmartno ob Paki and the other one northwest through a few kilometers of a narrow valley to the Upper Savinja Valley.
Upper Savinja Valley
The valley begins with the small Mozirje basin. The largest settlement in the Upper Savinja Valley is Mozirje which was settled already by the Romans. In Mozirje lies Savinjski gaj, a famous botanical garden, and above Mozirje rises Golte, a winter resort. To Golte leads the longest cable car in Slovenia.
During the Middle Ages the Vrbovec castle in Nazarje, which has been restored, protected the narrow passage between Mozirje and Nazarje. On the terrace above the castle sits a Franciscan monastery whose church has two belfries.
From the tributary, Zadrečka Valley flows the Dreta brook. The road through the valley brings us to the Gomji Grad basin surrounded by wooded plateaus Dobrovlje and Menina, and by the Veliki Rogatec range ( 1557 m ). The center of the basin is Gornji Grad where the Benedictines built a monastery in 1140. In the 15th century, the monastery was dissolved and the estates were presented to the Bishops of Ljubljana. It was the center of the Ljubljana diocese until 1783 the baroque Cathedral was built under their rule. Under their rule, the Baroque cathedral was built. Gornji Grad was granted a market charter in the 14th century and acquired the status of a town in 1928.
In the wide deposited part of the Upper Savinja Valley, north of Nazarje, lie two other interesting settlements -Rečica and Ljubno which were both granted a market charter as early as the 15th century. Ljubno used to be an important timber trade center. Rafts men used to raft their lumber rafts all the way to the Sava and sometimes even to Belgrade. The rafting trade stopped in 1954. At Ljubno pri Savinji, the Savinja is joined by the Ljubnica brook which springs under Komen ( 1684 m ).
The Savinja valley narrows after Ljubno. The Savinja current is already wilder. The valley slightly widens at Luce ob Savinji where the Lučnica brook flows from the tributary Podvolovjek valley. In this part, the Savinja valley cuts deep between the steep slopes of Ojstrica ( 2350 m ) and Velika Planina in the west, and of Veliki Rogatec ( 1557 m ) in the east. Not far from Luče we can see the steep slope of Raduha ( 2062 m ) reaching to the sky.
Under Ojstrica begins the tributary alpine valley Robanov kot from which flows the Bela brook, cascading down into the Savinja.
The Logar Valley ( Logarska dolina ) is so uniquely shaped that hardly any other valley in the Julian Alps can match it. The valley bottom is wide and green while the slopes are steep and rocky, surrounded by the magnificent Grintovci covered with numerous snowfields. Right at the end of the valley is the Rinka waterfall dropping for 80 m over a rocky wall. The parallel side valley Matkov kot is also very interesting.
The Roman Necropolis in the center of Šempeter has long been a reminder of the ancient history of the town. In 166, the Savinja flooded and destroyed the settlement and high tombs made of Vitanje marble. In 1952 the necropolis was unearthed, restored, and turned into a park.
Most of the tilling lands in the Lower Savinja Valley are covered with hops. Hop-vines are grown on hop poles or ropes and their cone-like fruits are used for brewing beer. Hop cones add a bitter flavor to the beer, but they also contain a nice smelling oil. In Slovenia, hops are grown in this valley only.
The old industrial town sits on the south edge of the Lower Savinja valley, above the right bank of the Bolska River. By the Own lies the Renaissance Prebold Mansion built in the 16th century. Tourism is taking off here. In Prebold there are two camping sites and the surroundings abound in natural, cultural, and historical sights which attract visitors.
The Vrbovec Castle in Nazarje has been almost completely restored. Today, the community administration and several companies have their seat in it. How inappropriate for a castle…
On the hill above the Vrbovec castle is a monastery in whose library you can find several old manuscripts and the 1584 original Jurij Dalmatin’s translation of the Bible.
Among the mountains in the Upper Savinja Valley, whose peaks reach above 2000 m, are also several mountain valleys.
In past times, Gornji Grad was a popular holiday resort. The town in the Bo-eta valley, also called the Zadrečka Valley, boasts a fresh mountain climate. It is a starting point for excursions to the Menina and other excursion spots.
Ljubno ob Savinji has a rich tradition in tourism. Every year they organize the traditional folk event called “Flosarski Bal ”. The Logar Valley is one of the most beautiful mountain valleys in those parts.