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Jablje (Jable) Castle

The castle is located near Loka pri Mengšu on the western edge of Mengeš Fields,  only 10 km drive from Ljubljana but we have to admit that we have heard about it only when exploring places around Ljubljana for Share your postcards from #CentralSlovenia campaign. It is build above the source of a stream, almost like Castle Snežnik and it is backed by a rocky hill slope.

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Just underneath  the castle hill lies a huge Infrastructure Centre of the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia so the view on the castle is limited, only short distance is left to photographing it from bellow.

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Nevertheless, the access to the castle is very photogenic as well as it is a small pond on the left.

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In fact maybe the view from the pond is even more photogenic that the pond itself:).

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First mention of the castle dates back to the 13th century, it’s Renaissance architectural concept was established around 1530 by Lamberghs.

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Castle was renewed between 1999 and 2006 and it served as one of the main protocolar objects during the Slovenian EU presidency. Unfortunately it is not regularly open to public, only twice a month and per request.

20170416_132649From above there is not much space for photographing the castle since the woods are beginning very  close to it. There is also the beginning of a path to the popular hiking destination above Ljubljana – Rašica.

On the fields just near the castle is  the Church of St. Primus and Felician which in certain conditions could be quite photogenic too.

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Written by @zokus_gf.

Info with the help of Wikipedia.

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Sveti Jakob /St Jacob/

Sveti Jakob (St. Jacob) above Medvode suits just perfectly in the definition of Central Slovenia: it is just around the corner of Ljubljana. It is also one of the most beautiful peaks of Polhograjsko Hills. It is simply called by the name of the saint and patron of the church which marks the hill since centuries and gives the landscape a special appeal. Official name of the hill is Brezovica as is the name of the village bellow it.

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The best approach to photographing the church is to keep some distance and find an undisturbed view from bellow or from the opposite slope above the village.

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Views from the church are also great but it would be much easier to photograph the landscape beneath from the short ridge between the village and the beginning of the final ascent to the church.

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Sveti Jakob is beautiful in all seasons but it would be rather difficult to find an undisturbed view during the season and during the weekends in all seasons. Topol nad Medvodami, the village which is the most obvious starting point for those who want to have a short walk, and Sveti Jakob itself are very popular destinations for short trips out of Ljubljana, especially when the fog is tick in the city.  Sveti Jakob, with alltitude of 804 m is high enough to be usually above the temperature inversion.

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Topol is also sometimes called Katarina by the church of Sv. Katarina just above the village. On the way from Sv. Katarina to Sv. Jakob Ljubljana sometimes feels to be just beneath the feet but it takes some time to get from the city to the destination. It is accessible by car through Žerovnik (Ljubljana – Polhov Gradec road) or Medvode. Both will take you about 20 minutes.

Instameet No5 – Brdo pri Kranju (Brdo Estate)

Park of Brdo Estate is beautiful in all seasons but autumn has a special charm. It was a beautiful sunny day which exposed all the vibrant colours for us. But let’s begin from the beginning – we organised this Instameet with the help of Brdo Estate marketing team which made sure that  more than 20 participants didn’t need to pay the entrance fee and we got more than rich welcome snacks and picnic baskets before the sunset.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.21.33Hotel receptions/estate guide explained some of the rich history of the estate which you can read on their site or shorter version in our announcement.

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We passed the modern congress centre just after the entrance and the exploration went under way. Everybody tried to get a nice shot of the red tree.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.20.22Colours, swans and reflections were the key words of the day.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.31.27We indeed had a lot of fun with the swans…Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.21.01...especially the black model….

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.20.36…but also with each other! A threesome here…

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.19.35There is a small herd of Lipizzaners at the estate, available for riding but also working.

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This time we didn’t try to keep the group together, everybody explored the park by themselves but there was an important meeting point.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.18.03Picnic baskets provided by the host were full of local specialities and nobody stayed hungry. Just imagine a beautiful summer day under the trees with the picnic basket and some more romantic company…

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Picnic took place at the beginning of a very special tree-lined lane, an ideal photo setting.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.17.33Eating we had been waiting for the sunset – it was not spectacular since the weather was so bright and dry but still – worth the wait.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 18.23.47Photo by @zupssss.

More photos of the Instameet are to be found in the album Instameetbrdo on Facebook page and on Instagram under tags #instameetbrdo and #brdoestate. Much more about the Brdo Estate  in Where to in Slovenia in coming days. Stay tuned, also for the next Instameet coming soon.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

 

Instameet Brdo Estate – Brdo pri Kranju

Autumn colors are in full blow but won’t remain for long. So it is a right moment for the next #instameet in the right surroundings of The Brdo Estate Park. Park is now open for public and represents a unique study of history, culture, architecture and nature thanks to 500 years of uninterrupted development. Many of the park’s trails lead visitors past buildings from various historical times. We’ll have free entry and a guidance.

Instameet will take place on Saturday, 29th October at 14.30 until sunset. Meeting point is at the reception of Hotel Brdo where we will start with a coffee and some introduction. 

Hastags: #instameetbrdo #brdoestate

Due to the limited number of participants an email application is obligatory: info@igslovenia.si.

More about this unique location from their web page:

A mansion was built there already in 1446. Most ob the 20th century it was closed for public – between 1935 and 1941 Brdo was under the ownership of the Karađorđević family (Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and his wife Olga). They thoroughly restyled the castle and the land and Brdo soon became one of the most beautiful estates in Yugoslavia; a luxurious government summer residence. Besides the royal family, only a few chosen ones were allowed to access the estate. After the war it became a residence of Josip Broz Tito and even today it is in a protocolar use.

Between 1785 and 1790 Karl Zois designed the first Alpine botanical garden in Slovenia. He planted it with a variety of Alpine plants, which he  collected on his mountain hikes. In addition to the botanical garden, the Brdo park also had two promenades, a viewing platform, a baroque park, a tree nursery, and the flower, winter and party gardens. At the end of the 18th century 10.686 plants already thrived in Brdo park (7.446 tropical plants and more than 3.000 fruit trees).

It was renovated many times since than but always around nature and beauty. Beautiful old trees and ponds with a castle and cottages on the estate are worth visiting for themselves. Autumn is a particularly interesting due to different colors of the nature and beautiful view at the surrounding mountains in clear weather can make your day and photo.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Koper – Capodistria

Warning: all shots taken with iPhone and edited with Snapseed!

Koper is the biggest and most industrialised of the three Slovenian coast cities (other two being Izola and Piran). Luckily, as with the most of the medieval cities, it was difficult to ruin it’s old city centre which overlooks Luka Koper (Port of Koper), the biggest port in the region.

 

Koper, the oldest town in Slovenia, developed on a rocky island with the Roman name Capris.It underwent a lot of  changes of various reigns and states, all of which marked the city with their specific traits and names. Koper was called Capris in Roman times, in the times of the pope Gregory I (599) Insula Capraria (“goat island”), Iustinopolis under the Byzantine Empire (between mid 6th and 8th centuries) and Caput Histriae (‘head of Istria’) by the Aquileia Patriarchs. The Venetians rendered that name into the Italian form, Capodistria.

The longest reign over the city was that of the Venetian Republic (1279-1797), when Koper experienced economic (trade, salt production) and cultural prosperity (painting, music). The Venetian period is still echoed by the city architecture; despite numerous modern interventions, it has preserved its medieval character, with the city of Koper being a member of the European Association of Medieval Cities. In the Middle Ages, Koper was an island surrounded by walls and connected with the mainland with a wood bridge in the direction of Škocjan. It was protected by a mighty fortress – Lion Castle, and surrounded by vast saltpans. Koper’s importance began to diminish in the 18th century, when Trieste was proclaimed a free port, and ultimately ended with the downfall of the Venetian Republic.

The main square, Titov trg, is located on the top of the small hill and with it’s surrounding buildings represents an architecture jewell. Despite Koper’s Venetian character we start the tour with a Gothic town loggia which closes off the north side of the main square. It is located opposite the Praetor’s Palace and represents its open antithesis. There is a caffe bar Loggia overlooking the square but it’s opening times are mysterious.

All the interesting buildings around the square are pretty huge and difficult to capture, especially if you use only a phone. The usual crowd around doesn’t make it any easier so it takes a sound compromise to get some of what you want. The Cathedral stands in the nucleus of Koper and dominates the area between the east side of the main square  and Brolo Square (trg Brollo). The three-nave Romanesque space with three apses was built in the second half of the 12th century. In the middle of the square, right next to the west façade, stands a mighty self-supporting bell tower repaired as a city tower in the 15th century.  The upper terrace is periodically open and offers a great view of the Bay of Trieste. Don’t expect any privacy up there.

Newly renovated Verdi Street takes you to the city walls above the Marina with a nice view at the Port. Turning back to the main square you can get a nice shot of the Praetors’s palace (at least a part of it). Turning right at the vista point leads you into the labyrinth of narrow streets full of cats, entrances into small gardens and some nice urbex motifs. With some luck you would find yourself at Ribiški trg (Fishing Square), just in the neighbourhood of the Port. Find Verdijevo nabrežje street and follow it apart from the Port. Buildings at your left are built on the land which used to be a sea not so far away hence the port equipment at the sidewalk.

A few meters before the roundabout enter the Muda Gate which has been and will remain the main continental city gate of Koper. The preserved triumphant arch portal and the building behind it were constructed in1516.

This is a one-arched triumphant arch that leads through a wide covered area to the inner part of the city.  It used to be a tollhouse station and through it had to pass all the visitors to the city who had arrived along the embankment from the land.  The stone outer frame of the entrance is Renaissance, from the Venetian workshop of the Lombardis. Above the high barrelled arch stands a later triangular gable.

The square behind the door, Prešernov trg, with charming old buildings is much more photo friendly than the main square.

The small Da Ponte fountain there is a bit harder to get a good shot at but it has a great history.

A subaquatic aqueduct connected the island of Koper to the mainland as early as the end of the 14th century. By the 16th century, the 10,000 inhabitants of the city were facing a water shortage, rainwater cisterns having become inadequate. In the 17th century, Niccolò Manzuoli recorded the city water supply, noting that a 2-mile distant spring at Colonna was piped to the island via wooden underwater tubes, some of which have been unearthed during excavations by modern archeologists.

The current fountain dates from 1666, replacing an older one on the same site. Its superstructure is in the shape of a bridge, surmounting an octagonal water basin surrounded by fifteen pilasters, each bearing the arms of local noble families who had contributed funds toward the fountain. The fountain was used as a source of potable water until 1898.

Again the narrow streets lead the way around or back to the main square but they are much more crowded.

This time we are to leave the main square just left of the Verdi Street, heading to the public port and the beach. It takes a very good stomach or a really hot day to swim so close to the commercial port but the beach is always crowded and sights spectacular. What about swimming with a tanker instead of a shark?

The view from the peer is open to the sunset though and any obstacles can be used to your advantage.

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Just a hundred meter back to the main square is a deserted high apartment building waiting for deconstruction. It was built in the times of fast industrialisation for the workers of one of the big factories just in the front of the old city. Nobody cared much about such things back then and it really hurts the eyes now so it is a good thing to be deconstructed. But on the other hand it used to offer the best view of the city and it’s inland background…

…and of the remaining part of the Slovenian coast too.

Useful information, also used in the text: slovenia.info and wiki.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

 

Maribor

Maribor is the second-largest city in Slovenia with a population close to 100K. The biggest and the oldest part of the city is located on the left bank of the Drava river. Probably are the vineyards which surround it, peaceful Pohorje Hills nearby and a lenghty shore of the river that create a special, somewhat Mediterranean easy going atmosphere in the city.

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City centre is relatively small and not difficult to find one’s way around.  A stroll from Glavni trg to  Slovenska ulica in the north would take only a couple of minutes and from Titova cesta on the east towards Strossmayeryeva ulica on the west shouldn’t last much longer. Huge majority of everything regarding architecture and history lies inside that square. But take your time and enjoy places on your way.

trgGrajski trg (Castle Square) with Kavarna Astoria and of course with the castle itself is a lively place on sunny days. Turn round at the castle tower and enjoy the view of the Franciscan church since it is difficult to find a shot from the other side, cars free. Always better to have some crowd and a  musician on the photo than some cars:)

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There is no history without a dark side, that day it was just around the corner, on the Trg svobode.

drevBut it was not difficult to proceed on the sunny side.

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Maribor is full of small parks and there is a huuuuuge (5 hectares) Mestni park (City Park) just north of the city centre, connecting the urban part of the city with the vineyards  covering the Piramida Hill just above the town.

parkkuglaThis is a classic view, but it is not difficult to find your own.

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A lot of trees and many of them are 140 years old. Should I add that autumn is the best time to play around with camera?

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Park is a beautiful combination of free space and order.

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Turning south-east near  Trije ribniki (Tree ponds, used to be a famous restaurant) would lead you to the Railway Station and Bus Station, further back to the city centre. Some pretty amazing details there.

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The back view was also worth a shot.

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A few hundred meters behind the bus station is an access to the river, close to the Railway Bridge. One could easily turn back to the city centre here because there is only a car park behind the station and the buildings across the street are new and ugly. But following the street to the south and crossing the road which goes along the river pays off heavily if you like that kind of view.

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It is necessary to return to the road from here and follow the river upstream but  first opportunity to go back to the river bank is just a few hundred meters away. From there on a path is always close to the water but the best views start again after the next bridge. This is Lent, the oldest part of the city with some amazing old buildings. It is a very popular place to eat and hang around with a lot of sun and plenty restaurants. Unfortunately parked cars can ruin your desired motif.stolp

Water Tower from 1555 was a part of the defence structure of the city. In reality it is not a tower at all and has nothing to do with the water. Well, almost nothing since wine is mostly – water and the tower now hosts an enoteca.

Over the water is another world and only a small part of old building worth to explore but you can cross the river and take a shot back at the Lent. A good photo from the other side requires more serious gear than a phone.

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We have found enough beautiful motifs on the Lent itself, like this one bellow the Koroški Bridge.

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Also on a beautiful sunny day one can find a photo opportunity without people in the way.

trtaMuch more difficult is find a moment without crowd in front of the Old Vine, the oldest vine in the world. The confirmed age is about 400 years and it still bears grapes. About 100 2,5, dl bottles are filled every year. It is an official THE sight of the city and is a must for all tourist groups but believe me – you can find a lot more in Maribor for your photographic thirst than that.

All information available regarding Maribor you can find in the link at the beginning of this post. For more photo inspirations about Maribor I can strongly recommend Igor Unuk who also acted as a photo guide during our Maribor #instameet.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

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Moravci – Moravske Toplice

That the village changed it’s name in 1983 tells all what is about to know – it means Moravci Spas and the whole village is dedicated to accommodation of tourist. Village Moravske Toplice lies just a few kilometers from Murska Sobota, the capital of the Prekmurje region. Prekmurje means “land over Mura river” and is a part of Pannonian basin or Pannonian Lowlands, a large geographical unit of Central Europe, most of it lies in Hungary.

While in other parts of Slovenia it is literally impossible not so see a mountain or at least some hills somewhere nearby, Prekmurje is different. The eastern part is totally flat and called Ravensko (Flatland), north of Murska Sobota is a more hilly part called Goričko but the highest “peak” of it is 418m above the sea.

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The region is completely different from the other parts of Slovenia. Not only are landscapes different, also language and food differs. Most  Slovenians wouldn’t understand locals speaking in their dialect since it is heavily based on the Hungarian language. But they are extremely kind and hospitable. Food is heavy but delicious and the prices are very low compared to central and western parts of Slovenia.

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We are not looking for spectacular landscape photography here and there are no real landmarks around. But on the other hand one can find plenty of beautiful nature motifs just wandering around.

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Fog is very common at all times of the year and when it is just a morning fog with the sun slowly penetrating it one just wishes it would last forever.

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Prekmurje doesn’t have a lot of snow either – it is hot during the summer and mild but wet in the winter, only eastern winds are not very pleasant at that time. It is a great destination all year round and not only for spas – hiking and biking around the flats, Mura river and Goričko Nature Park can fill quite a few holiday days. Bukovnica Lake with it’s energy points is very interesting part of it.

golfvodaThere are many private accommodations available but the best and biggest spas and hotels belong to Sava Turizem, one of the largest hotels chains in Slovenia and adjacent to their hotels there is also a great golf course Livada. It is open all year round and it has the longest Par 5 hole in Slovenia. Some of the most spectacular motifs are to find on and around the course.

lokvanjiThere is also a plenty of water around and combined with the fog and sun a golfer can really enjoy the nature and photography.

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Autumn can be of a special beauty there.

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Nature never fails to offer great photo opportunities for attentive eye.

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Even sunsets are different here since the horizon is unobstructed with hills.

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More about Moravske Toplice and Prekmurje region.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

 

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Ljubljana (from Trg revolucije to the Town Hall)

Ljubljana is a small city by the standards of capitals but as Slovenia itself offers  many great views at the short distances. Since we are dedicated to show you not only the obvious few spots of Slovenia we decided to divide descriptions of Ljubljana to shorter walks which offer great photo opportunities.maximStarting point is Trg Republike (Republic Square). It is the centre of contemporary Ljubljana built in 1960 by famous architect Edvard Ravnikar and  surrounded by the Parliament (just behind my back), Cankarjev dom – cultural and congress centre, Maximarket department store and TR3 and Ljubljanska banka office buildings (on the photo). All building were built between 1954 and 1975  and that’s why I call the square “contemporary”. Until a few years ago it used to be a parking space. Now, when empty, these two buildings stand as a kind of entrance (or exit). Since the square itself is fairly empty it offers fine but tricky photo opportunity.The square and the buildings are huge and the sunlight comes mostly from behind of Maximarket or the towers. See it for yourself. In the late autumn sun sets just between the towers.

 

ursulinskaUrsuline church and monastery are just a passage of Maximarket store away – facing the towers just turn left. Too close in fact to find enough space for a proper shot. The church tower is also visible from the Republic square over the roof of the store and from some side views, but always just partially. But if you turn left again and use the underground passage just a few steps away you’ll find yourself in a fine park of Kongresni trg (Congress Square). Now, on your right, is a front side of the same church from 1726.

ursulinkskafrontThe concrete part of the square where you stand now also used to be a parking lot but now offers a clean view on the magnificent Ljubljana Castle over the building of Slovenian Philharmonic, one of the oldest of the kind, from 1701. Just behind your back, taken from the steps of the church.

gradThe beautiful park itself is also called Zvezda (Star), in past times also Sidro (Anchor). Just take a stroll and you find the reason for yourself.

zvezdaMany different approaches are possible now to the river bank, personally I prefer  the narrow one beside the Philharmonia building.

filharmonijaFrom the other side, back to the square, a few days of the year you can catch a sunset around late spring. But in the autumn the view on the river, old city buildings and the castle is enriched with large leaves.

listgradOn your left is now the famous Tromostovje (Triple Bridge). Many different angles are accesible, one of the best is from the new small bridge or from Makalonca bar just bellow the bridge.

 

tromostovjeThe best view on Prešernov trg (Preseren Square) in the front of Triple Bridge is from the steps of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, the red building on the photo above. It is difficult not to catch at least a glimpse of the castle from spots around here.

presernovCrossing the Tripple Bridge you’ll find yourself in front of the Town Hall and famous baroque Robba Fountain with a view on the Cathedral.

magistratEarly morning is always the best time to take photos around here since sun rises somewhere behind the castle, exact point of course depends on the time of the year. Daily sun can be very harsh and  the whole area is already in the shadow afternoons.

For more information about the sights and Ljubljana Visit Ljubljana, one of the best tourist websites and offices in the world.

 

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Sorica

Sorica is a picturesque village on the farthest SW slopes of the Škofja Loka Hills (Škofjeloško hribovje). Officially it belongs to the Železniki Municipality but it’s first inhabitants settled here much before Železniki in Selška Valley had began to develop, probably as early as 1291. They came from Tyrol and were sent here to exploit the waste woods for the benefit of the Bishops of Freising from Bavaria who used to own both territories.

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Even Železniki and Selška Valley are not on the beaten tourist track, Sorica even less since it is a 20 minute drive into the hills away. But it is positioned at the interesting crossroads. One road from here leads to the Upper Primorska region (Tolmin) through very narrow valley Baška grapa. The road is a very windy and extremely narrow one but it is definitely worth a try. Second road is even more interesting since it connects Sorica (and Upper Primorska) with Bohinjsko Lake and of course also with Bled and Lake Bled.

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No, this is not a road to  Bohinj Lake, that one is an ordinary concrete road and much better that the one to Primorska. It passes a ski resort Soriška planina which is still a pasture land during the summer.

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In fact Sorica consists of two parts, Spodnja (Lower) and Zgornja (Upper) Sorica, the later being squeezed between two slopes. In the background Ratitovec overlooks the scenery as it does the majority of Selška Valley and surrounding hills and villages. It is the last mountain (SE) of the Julian Alps and even the last of the whole Alps.

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Over the veduta of Spodnja Sorica is a good view on Davča, village of isolated farms which takes place over 10 km in lenght and covers similar area as the capitAl of Slovenia, Ljubljana. A church marks the entrance into the village what is also specific for the settlements around here – church is not in  the centre of the village but rather on the hill near it.

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This territory didn’t have good traffic connections with others so a specific dialect developed here, in the even more distant village of Danje a few km above Sorica even Tyrolean dialect was spoken well into 20th century (1950), which had nothing in common with Slovenian language.

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Also the architecture of the houses is based on the Tyrolean architecture.

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Today Sorica is best known among bikers and gliders and being a hometown of Ivan Grohar, famous Slovenian impressionist painter and traces of the rich history are slowly giving it’s way.

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The best views can be find just below the church (first photo with bench) and around church at the beginning of the village if coming from Železniki and at the coordinates here which are above the village from the road to Tolmin/Podbrdo, there is a place for a car or two at the first right bend, then enter the small path (photo with a second bench).

I couldn’t find any useful link so there is no added but you are lucky that Železniki was my hometown:).

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Kočevje

Today Kočevje is a small sleepy town in southern Slovenia but it has witnessed quite a part of a history. Unless one is heading to explore Kolpa river from it’s source or using one of the shortest routes from central Slovenia to Kvarner bay in Croatia, Kočevje is not very likely to be on the must see list while discovering Slovenia. On the other hand, distance of 60 km from Ljubljana to Kočevje is only a short trip worth traveling for the landscape itself, just make sure that you are not leaving at rush hour of Saturday morning in the summer.

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Nature lovers and hunters would enjoy in the surrounding woods which still keep deep secrets about not so distant past. The city itself offers a great photo spot, parish church of St. Bartholomew  (Sv. Jernej) above the slow Rinža river, covered with water lilies.

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Church is one of the biggest churches in Slovenia, but not so old as majority of others, it is from 1905.

The best spot to take a shot is across the river where it makes a bend behind the church.

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There you can also see the bridge close to the front of the church,  another bridge down the river offers an opportunity to shoot in the opposite direction.

I would definitely recommend to read some short history of Kočevje.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf