Travel to Slovenia
Day 5 Bled - Skofja Loka - Kranj - Bled (78 Km.)
(in 39 Km.) Skofja Loka: It is one of the most beautiful medieval cities of Slovenia, located at the confluence of the Selška Sora and Poljanska Sora rivers and surrounded by mountains of medium height. The city is proud of the vestiges of the past that still remain in it and its origins of splendor, which began with the reign of the bishops of Freising in the year 830.
We enter the historic center by the stone bridge or the Capuchins (KAMNITI ALI KAPUCINSKI MOST). It was built by Bishop Leopold in the mid-fourteenth century in the shape of semicircular arches with elaborate stones and without any lateral protection. Time later, by whims of destiny the own bishop in as much that crossed the bridge with his horse fell to the river along with him and drowned. In 1888 the bridge was restored and metal side protections were added to both sides. Also a statue of Saint John of Napomuk, with the coat of arms of Škofja Loka engraved on its base, was placed in the midle of the bridge on one of its sides.
Skofja Loka - Mestni Trg square
Our next visit is the Nun's church (Church of Mary Immaculate), under the castle of Škofja Loka. The church was built in 1358, but its present form dates back to after the fire of 1669. In its interior you can see beautiful tombstones and a baroque stone pulpit. On the facade there is a bas-relief of the crucifixion. Due to the reforms of 1782 the convent of the Clarisse nuns that administered the church was dissolved and the Ursuline nuns took their place, creating a school for girls.
A little further on we have the church of Šentjakob (St. Jacob). Is a late Gothic building, built in 1471 on the foundations of a smaller church and at least 200 years older. It is divided into three naves of the same height supported by octagonal columns. The ogival arches are connected by a variety of joints in which reliefs of the patrons of the altar are found. After the earthquake of 1532, a new presbytery and a powerful bell tower were built. It is necessary to emphasize some precious things like the Renaissance altar of black marble of Saint Catherine, of the 1694, paintings of Christ in the Mount of Olives of end of the 17th century. Inside the church, altars and chandeliers were changed following project directives of Jožef Plecnik.
We enter the square Mestni Trg. In the center we have a statuette of Mary (MARIJINO ZNAMENJE) with three baroque sculptures, built by the city in 1751 to give thanks for the prevention against plague and fire. The pedestal, in the form of an altar, and the column with Ionic capital are made of conglomerate stone from Loka. On one side we have the old Town Hall (STARI ROTOVŽ), the most significant house in the city. It was built in the sixteenth century and it was the headquarters of the local administration. The house still retains in good condition several Gothic elements such as the majestic entrance door and other interiors, the main hall and the inner courtyard that is formed by Renaissance arcades. In 1972 the façade underwent a restoration in which some paintings were discovered that showed columns, open garrets, flowers, other figures and frescoes that were not previously appreciated.
Skofja Loka - castle (ŠKOFJELOŠKI GRAD)
Very close we have the old parish house (STARO ŽUPNIŠCE). The pillars and the two-color facade show that the house is composed of two houses rebuilt between 1740 and 1760. There is a Renaissance plaque with the emblem of a rich and influential citizen, Volbenk Schwarz. From the plaque it can be read that he founded the house in honor of the Holy Trinity and erected a chapel in his residence in 1513. The entrance portal is built of stone, the room has a crossed arch, while the staircase is finished with a wrought iron network in baroque style.
The upper square ends at Martin's house (MARTINOVA HIŠA). It is a type of house that predominated in Škofja Loka centuries ago and is the last one of its kind. It is known for the late Gothic of its portal, the windows of the ground floor and its arcades. It was built by Bishop Konrad III for security reasons and is the only one completely preserved from the houses that were added to the defensive walls of the city. Next to the house was the Poljane gate, with its guard tower and its bridge over the defensive moat still visible.
Kranj - St. Cantianus church (CERKEV SV. KANCIJA)
We end the visit to this city going up to the castle (ŠKOFJELOŠKI GRAD). It might have been built before 1202, because it was already described in documents that same year as a very solid castle (castrum firmissimum de Lonec). It was built by the bishops of Freising, it constituted the administrative center and the store of provisions of the territory of Loka also served as lodging for the bishops during their stays. In 1511 an earthquake destroyed it almost completely but was later rebuilt by Bishop Filip. In the courtyard of the castle there was a large square tower, whose plant was restored.
(in 11 Km.) Kranj: It is the fourth largest city in Slovenia, located about 20 km north of Ljubljana, with a population of 51,225 inhabitants in 2002. It is located in the central part of Gorenjska, the northwestern region of Slovenia, at the foot of the mountains. It is mainly an industrial city with a strong electronic industry. It has also preserved a medieval old town at the confluence of the Kobra and Sava rivers.
Kranj - Glavni trg
We start the tour at the Špital Tower (ŠPITALSKI STOLP). The city was surrounded by the city walls from Pungert on the west side, turning on the so-called "Krivica" to the east by the edge of the Kokra Canyon. There were at least seven defensive towers built into the walls, from which the first was at Pungert and the last at Špital, that is, near the hospital that gave the tower its name. The tower above Kokra has been preserved in the Maister's Square No.3 building seen from its eastern side.
The house of Prešeren (PREŠERNOVA HIŠA) (1800-1849), the greatest Slovenian poet, has a museum with manuscripts and facsimiles of his work, his office and dormitory, etc. The town hall of Glavni trg is formed by the union of two buildings. The first building, with its columned portico in the corner that contains a Roman sarcophagus, and the clock tower, is the Old Town Hall that was built at the beginning of the 16th century. The second building was an old aristocratic mansion dating from the first half of the seventeenth century. The main entrance is through this building and has two old Slavic tombs in the hall dating from the ninth and tenth centuries. The building has a splendid Grand Hall on the first floor that has a wooden ceiling and Renaissance portals. The building, nowadays, houses the Regional Museum of Gorenjska (GORENJSKI MUZEJ) with an ethnological and archaeological collection.
Kranj - Sv. Boštjan, Fabijan in Rok
On one side of the main square is the Gothic church of San Kancijan (CERKEV SV KANCIJA), with a tower located above the reminiscences of the Ptujska Gora entrance. Above the oldest remains of the church grew its pre-Romanesque successor, who has remained there since the mid-fifteenth century. The relatively large area of the altar, and the space of the choir were added around 1400. In the portal of the church there is a restored Gothic relief of the Mount of Olives of 1460. On the side of the facade we have works by the sculptor Fran Berneker , with statues of Juan Steadfast (Janez Nepomuk) and the Queen. The entrance hall was later built, together with the tower that rises above the front of the entrance. The room is divided by four thin octagonal columns. Some original paintings were discovered in the vault during the 2004 restorations. The vault with the central star is painted with plant decoration and frescoes of angels (Žirovnica's master's workshop, 1461). The current altar with sculptures by France Gorše and the colored windows are more recent.
The lapidary, with Roman and medieval epitaphs, previously built on the walls of the parish church was placed on the south wall of the parish church in the years 1971-1972. The most important of the medieval sepulchral gravestones is the plaque of the Bishop of Kranj Koloman. The Fountain of John of Nepomuk was placed against the south wall of the church in 1971, on the occasion of the reconstruction of the plaza. The fountain is the work of the well-known Slovenian sculptor Franc Berneker (1874-1932).
The Church of the Plague (PODRUŽNICNA CERKEV NA PUNGERTU) is located in the area known as Pungert, which is located at the southern end of the Old City. It was built in 1470 and the church is dedicated to Saints Rok, Fabian and Sebastian to protect the faithful from the plague. The bell tower was added to the presbytery in the 18th century and the entrance porch was added in the second half of the 19th century. Inside it has a baroque altar with a painting of the three intercessors against the plague of 1773. Behind it is the defense tower in Pungert (MESTNI OBRAMBNI STOLP NA PUNGERTU). It is the only defense tower of the city wall completely preserved. It is located on the southwest side of the Kranj promontory. It had its origin in the sixteenth century and has a circular floor. The tower was rebuilt several times, and in the first half of the 19th century, the annex for a staircase was added. In 1833, it became a city jail and, subsequently, rebuilt for residential use.
Kranj - Church of the Holy Rosary (ROŽENVENSKA CERKEV)
At the end of Tomšiceva ulica, northwest of Pungert, is the church of the Holy Rosary (ROŽENVENSKA CERKEV). This church was built in the first decade of the sixteenth century, above the lower door of the city. Around 1570 the church served as a place of worship for Protestants and during this period all of its original furniture was lost. The church was restored in the seventeenth century. The church is a common example of late Gothic architecture with a rectangular nave and a narrower presbytery. The presbytery and the nave have a Gothic vault. In 1892, the church was completely renovated in the historicist style, and therefore a large part of the historical features were removed. However, the church remains an important element of the view of the city and a dominant feature of the old city. Between 1953 and 1959, the architect Jože Plecnik designed a monumental entrance to the old part of the city that meant the construction of some arcades along the presbytery of the Rosary Church, the installation of a fountain, and the reconstruction of the facade of the house located at the top of the rise.
A part of the city wall (MESTNO OBRAMBNO OBZIDJE), between the fourth defense tower and the Khislstein castle, was restored in 1990. At the same time, some archaeologists completed an investigation that discovered defense walls of the 1st and 6th centuries, located under the medieval walls of the second half of the 15th century. These important findings provide evidence of the existence of this settlement at least from the first century and onwards. The total length of the city wall is 870 meters and its height is 6 meters.
The castle Khislstein complex (GRAD KHISLSTEIN) was developed on the edge of a promontory. It is above the bridge over the river Sava. Within the complex, the manor house was developed with the current form between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Ortenburg Tower is from 1256. The southeast section of the castle was built in the period of the Turkish invasions. It joined the defense wall of the city. In the southwest section, a defense tower was built in the sixteenth century, which shows all the characteristics of the construction of contemporary Italian fortifications. In the mid-sixteenth century, Janez Khisl of Fužine bought the castle and turned it into a residential mansion that was called "Khislstein" after his death (1578). Later, the owners of the house include the aristocratic Mosconni and the Ravber families. In the 18th century, they were owned by the Apfaltrer and Auersperg families. At the end of the 18th century Natalis Pagliaruzzi became its owner. His successors held the property until 1913, when it became the property of the State. The house preserves many high quality architectural elements, among which the main coutyard and the portal stand out. The house was renovated between 1985 and 1989 and now houses the Institute for the Protection of the Natural and Cultural Heritage, the Gorenjska Museum, and a public art gallery.
(in 28 Km.) Bled: We return to our base camp.