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Križna gora – Church of the Holy Cross

Križna gora is a small settlement NW of Škofja Loka. It is situated on the ridge above Selška dolina valley which together with Poljanska dolina valley constitute the Škofja Loka area. The village and its church of the Holy Cross are visible from afar what is usually a good sign for the views from the spot in question and Križna gora does not dissapoint.

Sorško polje plain is almost entirely in the view and the town of Škofja Loka lies just bellow your feet – at least when the plain is not covered with fog. To the north the peaks of Kamnik Savinja Alps and Karavanke mountain ridge mark the view.

Mt. Kočna, Mt. Grintavec and Mt. Storžič are the most remarkable among these peaks – photographers and followers of @igslovenia would remember them from the photos of the famous Sveti Tomaž (St. Thomas), which in fact lies just accross the Selška dolina valley.

However, the plain and its surroundings are already visible  from the road to Križna gora, from the village itself and from the dirt road leading to the Church of Holy Cross – all you have to do is pick your view and motif – while  photographing the village and church of St. Thomas and the hills above the Selška dolina valley demand some searching and crossing the meadows which are not to be crossed in all seasons. We recommend the short trail which leads to the watter collector which can be easily spotted from the road to the church soon after you pass this idyllic vintage rural spot.

There is about 15 minutes walk from the village to the church on the top of the hill.

The best motifs differ by the season. weather, time of the day and your taste and equipment – just make sure to go around and cover all angles!

Thel church on a hill above the settlement is dedicated to the Holy Cross and was built around 1500. It contains many well-preserved frescos from 1502 that depict the legends of Saint Ulrich, to whom the church was dedicated until 1867, and of Saint Corbinian. Some of the frescos in the nave, dating to around 1530, are believed to be by Jernej of Loka. The hill with the church and a Lodge of the Hunters Society bellow the hill is a popular destination for short outings by locals. /source: wikipedia/

Križna gora offers many photo opportunities but also great views of the area per se. A trip to the village is also a great insight into the way of life in the rural villages in the Škofja Loka area and a nice trip to the mostly unspoiled nature. It is also pretty easy to adjust the lenght and the fitness level of the trip – hiking all the way from Škofja Loka, starting just before the start of the ascent or driving to the village and just hike around.

 

Text and photos: Zoran Leban Trojar

Sveti Tomaž (St. Thomas)

Sveti Tomaž is a very small settlement in the municipality of Škofja Loka. Just like Jamnik‘s church of St. Primus and Felician has become famous among photographers in the Instagram era by its church and fabulous backdrop.

Both places are also very close to each other, some 30 minutes drive is from one point to another. Both also stand on the hill above the meadow which makes for a pretty photos just strolling around the church.

We have visited St. Thomas in early spring but it is beautiful also in the snowy winter and in the middle of autumn.

Views from the church itself are also worth considering to photograph.

Wandering around the church one should not forget that the meadows are in use by the farmers from the village so walk with care when looking for the motifs!

The settlement is really small and there is no parking place for tourists so some care is needed with that as well, especially if you would like to get a view from some distance and pass the highest farm by the dirt road above it.

Only from some distance the whole beauty of the mountain backdrop reveals.

Unfortunately you have to walk some more to the Rantovše hill to get a view like the one bellow.

You would also need a serious equipment for a shot like this although we pretty good shots from the distance with our HuaweiP30Pro when using a quality tripod. Bellow you will find a 4x zoom of the St. Thomas church as it is seen from the road Škofja Loka – Železniki less than a kilometer before the actual turn for the settlement.

There is a 20 minutes drive from Škofja Loka to St. Thomas, the last part of the road is steep, narrow and curvy so take care!

Text and photos: Zoran Leban Trojar

 

 

 

Nebesa (Heaven)

The highest hill in the municipality of Šentrupert is called Nebesa (Heaven). We have no idea why but the views there are really – heavenly.

Dolenjska region of Slovenia is characterised by the soft rolling hills mostly covered with vineyards, small villages, lazy but magnificent Krka river and many churches on the top of the hills. One can not see the whole region from Nebesa but can get some of the best views of the landscape there.

We have visited it twice, once in the autumn evening and the second time in early summer at the sunrise. Sunset photos are fantastic and available throughout the year.

Direct sunrise can be probably caught from the late autumn till early spring. In other months sun rises behind the hill and lightens up the Mirna valley and the rolling hills around but doesn’t interfere with the lenses of your gadget.

 

The morning fog is pretty common there just to make the whole scenery even more magical.

The place is easy accessible with a car. There is a small tourist farm there which is open for public only at weekends but their toilettes are available at any time. This is probably a local cooperation with paragliders who have their ramp just next to the building.

We have mentioned sunrise and sunset time to be the best times to photograph here. Season wise we would recommend a colourful autumn, a snowy winter and late spring with the blossomed orchards and ripping fields.

We strongly recommend this less known place which could serve also as an inspiration for further explorations. Otočec Castle and  Novo mesto are pretty close!

Text and photos: Zoran Leban Trojar

 

Škofja Loka – Hribec

This is probably the best spot to photograph the Škofja Loka Castle with the whole old town – and much more! It is a small church called Sv. Križ na Hribcu – Holly Cross on the Small Hill – which itself can be spotted almost from you everywhere in the city. It is overlooking the settlement on the right bank of the Poljanska Sora river, Puštal. (By the way, there is a spot on Google maps saying it is Cerkev povišanja Sv. Križa – it is the right one, just use it if you need.) Crossing the big bridge from the Lower Square (Spodnji trg) just follow the road (be careful, it is very narrow) with the sport stadium on your left and in a few minutes you will see a small chapel by the dirt road – turn on the road and follow for the next 5 minutes to reach the church. The view on the castle opens immediately after the chapel.

There are two spots on the top to take photos – first one before the stairs leading to the church and the second the walls of the church. Bellow is an original view from the first one.

Here you can play with different compositions and enjoy.

The hill overlooking the city is called Lubnik and is very popular among the people from the city. It really marks the landscape and it is accordingly steep to reach the hut at the top.

We visited it twice but didn’t have luck with the light. But it is great spot in the morning when the rising sun lit the castle and the town from behind your back and also the best place to catch sunset just behind the castle. Dark clouds can also make very dramatic scene.

In the photo above you can spot a small saddle with some objects far behind the castle – it is a famous St. Thomas church, a mecca for photographers, just a 10 minutes drive from Škofja Loka, which together with both valleys, Poljanska and Selška, form a whole small region, a destination full of history, amazing nature and experiences.

Text and photos – all made with HuaweiP30Pro – Zoran Leban Trojar

Vintgar Gorge

The gorge, a beautiful piece of wilderness with steep depths, vertical walls and rapid river lies only some  4 km north-west of the famous Bled Lake. It was discovered in the 1891 by Jakob Žumer, the Major of the village of Gorje, and the cartographer and photographer Benedikt Lergetporer. The gorge was impassable at the time but very soon was arranged for the visitors. Bled has a long history in tourism and no wonder that the gorge is still one of the main tourist attractions of Slovenia.

The guarded entrance

 

It is closed during the winter since the wooden galleries can be slippery and combined with the amount of water which flows through when snow starts to melt it could be really dangerous, hence the metal doors just after the official entrance.

Maintenance workers on the galleries

In the season can be pretty crowded but we visited it just at the beginning of June and very early in the morning. We were lucky that the maintenance workers already entered the premises and we were allowed to enter it a few minutes before the official opening hours.

Wild beauty

At the beginning we were quite shocked by the cost of visit – 10 EUR for the entrance and 5 EUR for the parking – but soon we have realised what amount of work is needed to keep the 1.6 km long gorge safe since about 90% of the path is on wooden galleries and bridges. Beside that the beautiful Radovna river can cause some problems after a heavy storm.

Nature regulates itself

Looking back

The river carved its way through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Boršt hills and graced the gorge with its waterfalls, pools and rapids. Since it is very steep, high and narrow the sun enters it randomly and adds to the beauty with the light plays.

It works in both directions – did we mention that you have to come back the same way unless you want to take a pretty long walk around?

The Vintgar gorge also includes two man-made sights. After some two thirds of the trail the gorge opens a bit and the river slows down just before the single-arch stone bridge of the Bohinj railway, constructed in 1906, which crosses the gorge 33.5 m above the river, and the dam from which the water is routed to the small Vintgar hydroelectric power plant under the Šum waterfall.

It is not easy to take very good photos there – the gorge is narrow, the light pretty difficult and the crowd is always in your way – or you in theirs. Using wide angle lens helps a bit though and in a moment with no crowd a nice LE can be taken.

But at the damm the breeze from the falling water was so intense that our HuaweiP30Pro on the tripod behaved like the sail in the wind:) hence the blurred image.

Pretty soon after the damm the other entrance is reached – if you are with your own car it is probably a good idea to start from this side, which lies just above the Šum waterfall.

Above the Šum Waterfall.

The waterfall itself lies outside of the to-be-paid-for boundaries since the gorge ends here. But it is difficult to take photos there since there was no easy access to the river bed and also no stance outside of the water.

Šum Waterfall

We assume that the circumstances here change and with less water in the bed access is easier – but then also the waterfall is smaller though.

Can you spot the rainbow in the water drops? The 13-meter high waterfall is pretty powerful and the breeze quite strong just like at the dam above.

Have a coffee just above the waterfall as we did before heading back. It is the same trail but the sights are changing here very fast and you will sure enjoy the way back almost like as it was the first time.

Clear skies in the early morning provided for the sharp pictures even in the shade. Evening light changes everything, many times the morning mist ads to the beauty, with the fog the gorge becomes misty and mystical. You can find a lot different photos from the gorge in our feed on Instagram We will sure come back to experience it in different circumstances.

Text and photos: Zoran Leban Trojar.

All photos taken with HuaweiP30Pro courtesy of Huawei Slovenija.

More information about the gorge can be found here.

Škofja Loka

Škofja Loka is positioned at the transition of the Sora Plain (Sorško polje) into the Škofja Loka and Polhov Gradec Hills (Škofjeloško in Polhograjsko hribovje). It guards the entrance into the Selška Valley and Poljanska Valley, two beautiful valleys with the rivers of the same name, Sora (Poljanska Sora and Selška Sora). The medieval town, which was first mentioned in 973, is build at the junction of both rivers into one.

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Small old city centre is considered as the most beautifully preserved medieval city in Slovenia. It had an interesting and rich history, which is presented in the museum at the Castle of Škofja Loka. Town Square is built on the higher river terrace, Lower Square lies just above the river, naturally the best connection between the two leads close to the church.

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The city centre is small but charming.

Castle was built in 12th century and dominates the city sights.

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One can easily spot the best places to take photos of the castle. Among them are all bridges, especially the lowest one where traffic enters the lower old town and the one close behind the main bus station. Probably the best spot is from the small church on the small hill above Puštal, called Hribec. The church is very visible from the town and only a few minutes walk away,  we have a special post about this spot.

The latest which is also a good place to shot the river and old houses above, with the popular local hill, Lubnik, in the background. It is also one of the two best spots for sunset chasing.

 

 

And the bridge itself:

Good views of the castle are also from the Grajska pot (Castle Path) path and from the square where it begins.

 

The Castle Park behind the castle is also worth exploring.

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But the best view on the castle with the whole old town beneath is from the church Cerkev povišanje Sv. Križa which lies above the Puštal, a a former separate settlement on the right bank of Poljanska Sora, now a part of the city.

But Škofja Loka is not only a city. Together with both valleys, Poljanska and Selška, form a whole small region, a destination full of history, amazing nature and experiences. Right behind the castle an alert eye can spot in the distance the famous church of Sv. Tomaž, a photographer’s Mecca.

Besides St. Thomas, Škofja Loka area offers many spots like this, pictoresque villages with even more pictoresque churces on the top of the hills, great views and unspoilt nature. Križna gora is one of them, just a few minutes drive from the city!

Read more about Škofja Loka.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Predjama Castle

According to Lonely Planet, Predjama Castle, 9km from Postojna, is one of Europe’s most dramatic castles. It teaches a clear lesson: if you want to build an impregnable fortification, put it in the gaping mouth of a cavern halfway up a 123m cliff. Its four storeys were built piecemeal over the years from 1202, but most of what you see today is from the 16th century. It looks simply unconquerable.

 

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

Since it is located only a few minutes drive from the famous Postojna cave gets a lot of attention despite the remoteness of the area. In fact,  approaching it from the other side, from the direction of Planina, one drives through the parts of Slovenia which are pretty unknown even to the natives of Slovenia.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

The place is really fascinating and calls to be photographed. It is easy to capture with a mobile camera. However, given the castle is already framed in the rock and it is not easy to get a lot of background in the picture, there are not many options left to make a difference with the shot. In addition to that it could be pretty soon in the shadow, but when lit with the sun the light can be pretty strongly reflected off the walls. Fortunately there are enough elements available to help with the dynamics of the shot, especially off the season when it is not too crowded.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro.

A few different angles available can be used according to the number off people around, the weather conditions and the season. Winter time is obviously off season so the surroundings can be pretty plain and dull. In the snow everything change to the better.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

The view from the road leading to the entrance can be combined with some plants. Stairway leading to the stream bellow – which runs into the cave underneath the castle – can be a great leading line as well as the sitting elements at the restaurant nearby.

The lower levels offer more interesting shots in other seasons than winter but always give a strong feeling of the castle’s splendour.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro.

Behind the largest cave castle in the world, there is a network of secret tunnels, from where the knight Erazem of Predjama would set out on his plundering expeditions. The Cave under Predjama Castle is the home of a colony of bats.

Text and photos. Zoran Leban Trojar

Jamnik, Church of St. Primus and Felician

Jamnik is a really small settlement on the eastern slopes of the Jelovica Plateau, literally bellow the less traveled road between Kropa and Dražgoše 

The village of Jamnik. Taken with HuaweiP20Pro.

 

There are many similar villages scattered around those hills, but Jamnik is famous by its Church of St. Primus and Felician, which is built close to the village at an impressive location on a hill overlooking most of the northern part of the Ljubljana Basin with the mountain chain of Karavanke  as a backdrop towards the north and the Kamnik–Savinja Alps towards the east.

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The location has a special feature similar to Lake Bled or Lake Jasna – it is photogenic in all seasons and almost all weather conditions.

Kamnik – Savinja Alps in the background. Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

We have to admit that this  is not the only church atop a hill in Slovenia and many of them offer great sights and photo opportunities. Nevertheless Jamnik is probably the most photographed one and definitely owns a lot of its fame to the spread of social media like Instagram and others.

jamnik

Already the road to the church itself is a fascinating view and each step further reveals a different scenery. It is beautiful in all conditions, even in a moody good weather, when fog and mist can make the picture totally mystical.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

 

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

Never mind if on the day of your visit mountains in the background are hidden behind the clouds – it’s a dramatic view and you would have an excuse to come again to catch the sunrise maybe.IMG_7366

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catching the sunrise was our goal in the winter of 2019 but the fog kept coming from the valley.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

In late spring and early summer everything is so green and blossoming, but it has a special charm in winter, too, especially if snow covers also the mountains behind. Sun rises above mountains somewhere just behind the church, depends on the time of the year, and sunset can colour the same peaks in psychedelic colours.

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If happens that this would be your first visit to the region, steep hills can surprise you, but for centuries people around here survived farming on the same hills.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

Coming from Kropa you would find an exit leading to the church just when road slowly becomes less steep, but watch out since it is very narrow and windy all the time. Only two or three cars can park there so if you find it full just continue, about 300 m further you can find more space just above the village itself.

Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

Coming from the Dražgoše it is probably the best tactics to park the car wherever available once you spotted the church and entered the village area. A few steps more can do no harm but offer even more fascinating views.

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Taken with HuaweiP20Pro

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Črni Kal Viaduct

The Črni Kal Viaduct is the longest and the highest viaduct in Slovenia, located on the A1 motorway just a few kilometres before reaching the city of Koper from the direction of Ljubljana. It runs above the Osp Valley between the village of Gabrovica and the village of Črni Kal by which it got its name.

At the highest point it rises 87.5 m above the valley and it the foggy days many times just peaks above the fog. Its shape presents a nice leading line and it is directed towards west so the sunsets can be pretty spectacular. Since it is pretty close to some photo spots a long exposure photography is possible. No wonder that it became a popular photo object in the last few years with the rise of Instagram.

 

 

The viaduct is 1,065 metres long and runs from the slopes of Kraški rob, where the karst of Slovenia ends , to the rolling hills of Istria. The easiest photo spot to reach is the quarry on the left side of the 409 road just before the village of Črni Kal from the direction of Kozina. Park the car just before the working area of the quarry and the first photo spot is just a few metres away. In fact, there are a few of them so one can choose the angle which suits the situation.

Following the narrow road just bellow the quarry a new angles and photo spots open every few steps and a road itself can be a part of composition as well. A small slope on the left before the bend in the photo above is also one of them.

Descending from the slope on the left a few other spots can be reached closer to the viaduct but at some point is starts to run parallel with the eye of the camera so the road is not visible anymore. Before reaching such a point some interesting compositions are available.

One is the view of the Y-shaped columns, the distinctive feature of the viaduct, rising from the valley. Obviously a fire devastated a part of the area a few years ago and left behind some trees which come handy to make a different photo.

All spots are close enough to take decent photos with a good camera on your phone. We used Huawei P20Pro in different modes, against direct light mostly HDR and and Sunrise/Sunset automatic mode. There is another spot to photograph the viaduct, located just above the village of Črni Kal, namely at the Fortress of Črni  Kal. However it is much higher above the viaduct and more distant so the phone camera probably won’t be enough.

Text and photos: Zoran Leban Trojar

 

Piran

Picture perfect (or Pirano, in Italian) is a small & most popular town on Slovenian Coast. It sits nicely at the tip of Piran peninsula and it brings tons of photo opportunities for both professional and amateur photographers. Everything is pretty close so it’s ideal for a great photos using mobile only.

It’s landmark, the bell tower of the St. George’s Cathedral, is visible from many different angles. One of the best sights is from the path leading to the town from Fiesa Bay, especially at sunset (which we were not lucky to catch).

St. George’s Cathedral, taken with Huawei P20 Pro

Closer look at the tower is the best to get continuing from the same direction (Fiesa) or approaching it directly from the Tartini Square to the NE.

The bell tower from the east, taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

Piran - Tartini Square

One of the best spots to look at Piran is exactly from the bell tower of the Church of St. George. Paying a few euros to get to the top is well worth since the tower offers unobstructed views all around. Just come prepared! There are lots of steps to climb:)

Piran peninsula from bell tower

Piran beach from bell tower

However, if you don’t feel climbing to the top of the tower the views from the walls in front of the church are good enough. If you find the church door open don’t miss this photo opportunity as well!

Inside the church, taken with Huawei P20 Pro, night mode.

The tip of the small peninsula can be reached directly from the church following the path along the fence. The small lighthouse of Punta, the historical ‘point’ of Piran, is attached to the round tower of the Church of St Clement.

Punta, taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

Walking along the coast past many bars and restaurants, a sight like that would be pretty common out of the season.

Fisherman. Taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

Between the coast and the church on the top is a labyrinth of the old narrow streets so typical for the Mediterranean towns.

Steep and narrow. Taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

Shops and bars everywhere but heavily reduced number offseason.

Streets of Piran

Don’t miss the main – Tartini Square. The place where Tartini Square is located today, was once a harbour for fishing boats of Piran. Today it is the city centre, a place everybody meets, eats out and – takes some of the best photos. I, for example, love the statue of violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini in the middle of the square. He points his finger in a way you can make some nice (funny) photos using just this motive. For sure all the houses built in the Venetian – Gothic style make a great back (or fore)ground for any photo you will take.

Tartini Square

Small piers from the both sides of the harbour offer the best view – the church above the square, reflected in the water. We prefer the pier on the east side, close to the Maritime Museum.

The View. Taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

Reflections. Taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

Standing in front of the square is the best view of the harbour itself.

The harbour of Piran. taken with Huawei P20 Pro.

The only problem you’ll face here (and generally in Piran) is – the crowds. Specially in July & August the town is just full of tourists so try to avoid peak season. If you are not lucky enough and it gets to busy anyway, climb the city walls. This place offers simply the most beautiful view of the whole town and it is amazing all year round. If you get hungry … there is a nice restaurant just behind the city walls. It offers great home food and the prices are (for Piran) very reasonable. If you are lucky enough the restaurant owner will share some interesting stories with you.

Piran from the City walls

City walls

Text and photo by Sanja and Zoran Leban Trojar.

Most photos taken with Huawei P20 Pro courtesy of Huawei Slovenija.