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Bela Krajina

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Bela Krajina is in Slovenia.

General Information[edit]

Bela Krajina is situated at the southeasternmost end of Slovenia, which also includes the southernmost point of the country the village Kot near Vinica. Entering Bela Krajina one is instantly swept away by the view of the lively karstic flatland, which is surrounded by higher karstic units: Gorjanci, Kočevski Rog and Poljanska gora. If one looks upon the region's flat area from higher edges, it appears as a monotonous landscape with isolated hills in the distance. However, driving through Bela krajina one can immediately notice its great variety.

Figures[edit]

The region has 596 square kilometres of land, and lies approximately 232,3 m above sea level. Bela krajina has 226 settlements with somewhat more than 26.000 inhabitants. Thanks to its relatively warm climate Bela krajina has a relatively high precipitation, but the quantities inside the region vary considerably.

Climate[edit]

It has a continental climate with long, warm summers and cold winters, but one can also feel the Mediterranean influence. Average yearly temperature is 10.5°C, average highest temperature is 15.7°C and the average lowest temperature is 5.9 °C.

Tourist Atractives[edit]

Firn areas are typical for Bela krajina; these areas alternate with cultural and forest areas, white birch and juniper. Another attractive element of the region's natural appearance are the vineyards, which are usually situated some 400 - 450 m above sea level, above the limit of heat inversion. The following industries were one of major importance in the past: metal processing, wood processing, food and textile industries. In addition to the total economic development, Bela krajina has also taken a turn towards the development of tourism. Tourism serves as a metaphore for life, because it includes acknowledged hospitality and frankness of local people, and this surely stresses great tourist availability for groups and individuals. Bela krajina has a rich cultural heritage, which nourishes many folk dances, customs and rituals, which are brought to life through various traditional events. In this aspect we must stress home cottage industry and people's tradition, which is still preserved and nurtured by certain individuals and associations. Painted Easter eggs “belokranjske pisanice” are famous far and wide, as well as “drsanke” and embroidery work of Bela krajina, which give extra value to the region. Cottage industry products and souvenirs can also be bought on various locations throughout Bela krajina, as well as on all three Tourist Information Centres (TIC) in the region.

Main towns[edit]

  • Črnomelj, the biggest settlement in Bela krajina, was celebrating in 2007 its 600th anniversary, when it was first mentioned as a city. The town's old core is situated on the pier at the narrow turn of rivers Lahinja and Dobličica, 156 m above sea level. It serves as traffic crossroads for roads to Metlika, Semič and further towards Dolenjske toplice, Adlešiči, Griblje, Vinica, and through Stari trg ob Kolpi towards Kočevje. In written sources it was first mentioned in 1228, under the name “Schirnomel”. Some fifty years later, in 1277, the settlement built around the castle was extended to a market town. In 1407 the settlement was granted city rights and became a city, which today inhabits about 6.000 people.
  • Metlika, a border town, has a turbulent and interesting history. The territory of Metlika was inhabited already in the prehistoric times and Antiquity. Metlika, which was named Novi trg in Metlika back in the 14th century, was again granted city rights on April 29th , 1365 by Albreht IV, the count of Gorica-Tyrol. Later on, the town was marked by the invasion of the Turks, earthquakes, fires, the first reading society and the first savings bank in the region of Dolenjska and Bela krajina, the first fire brigade in Slovenia, etc. In 2005 Metlika is celebrating its 640th anniversary of city rights.
  • Semič, the seat of the community with the same name, is geographically closed towards north, as its northern edge extends along the oothills of the mountain chain Kočevski Rog and along the slope of Gorjanci mountain chain. You can encounter the most spectacular view when you dive out from the Semič tunnel by a train.White houses and vineyard cottages wind between vineyards and underneath them the Semič square with a parish church of St. Štefan shines out. The name Semič was first mentioned at the beginning of the 13th century, in the time of the rule of Henrik Adeški. Semič was named after the castle, which stood below the top of the hill Semenič.

Semič offers a splendid view of the Semič mountain, which is overgrown by vines. In the spring time the sun quickly chases the snow away from slopes on the sunny side, and the peaks Smuk and Semenič turn green. Semič is famous for its exquisite wine, whereas its rich cultural heritage and culinary specialities are only additional reasons to stay.


Traditional Festivals[edit]

  • JURJEVANJE IN BELA KRAJINA is the oldest folklore festival in Slovenia. The event first took place in 1964. It is set in the so-called midsummer period, between April 24th (“Jurjevo”) and June 24th (“Ivanje”). It was named after people's customs on »Jurjevo« celebration. The event takes place in a kind and green natural amphitheatre in the heart of Črnomelj “Jurjevanska draga”.

A three-day rich cultural programme introduces folklore groups from Bela krajina, Slovenia and abroad, who represent a tiny part of their cultural heritage through songs, dances and music. A performance of the ritual of “Zeleni Jurij” in front of the Črnomelj castle is particularly interesting. Evening cultural programme with its final performance always extends to a merry night. There are also other events accompanying “Jurjevanje in Bela krajina”, such as the race “Jurjev tek”, cycle trip “Goni kolo - Z biciklom po Beli krajini”, etno-folk concert, which follows the trend of popular etno music, various workshops, artistic and literary competitions and many other events. There is also a craftsman fair “Rokodelski sejem”, which introduces craftsmen from Bela krajina and other parts of Slovenia.


  • The event VINSKA VIGRED is taking place every year on the third weekend in May in the old town core of Metlika, which consists of squares Mestni trg, Trg svobode and Partizanski trg. Each location has its own stage, which hosts a rich cultural programme and ensures a vibrant and relaxing evening. The event represents the greatest viticultural tourist manifestation in Slovenia. “Vinska vigred” among other things also offers wine tastings of prized wines on different stalls and in the castle cellar (wine testing takes place in April), various exhibitions, performances of numerous folkore groups, singing groups and bands. Members of the Rural Women Association prepare an exhibition of culinary jewels and bake the flat cake “belokranjska pogača”every day of the event. Of course, you can also have a taste of other local culinary specialities (roasted lambs and suckling pigs). The castle yard offers home cottage industry and artistic products. One can also visit the Belokranjski museum, Slovene Firebrigade Museum, Kambič Gallery, wine cellar and shops Beti and Komet. There is also a fun fair behind the castle for the young ones.


  • The tourist event “SEMIŠKA OHCET” is a traditional Bela krajina event and a central one in the community of Semič. The event preserves and promotes cultural heritage and people's customes, and stresses cultural identity of the region. From the touristic point of view it is tightly interwoven between locals and visitors. On this event couples get married according to traditional customs and habits, wearing a national costume which is typical for this region. The custom of the authentic Semič wedding with an accompanying programme is introduced by the folklore group “Semiška ohcet” from Semič. The event also includes performances of various folklore groups from different parts of Slovenia and abroad. There are also accompanying events, such as various culinary exhibitions and picturesque presentations of almost forgotten cottage industry and crafts. Therefore, let yourself to be swept away and join us on the event “Semiška ohcet”, which takes place every year on the third Saturday in July.

Wine Culture[edit]

Trough the region of Bela krajina winds a wine tourist road, which is one of the national tourist roads. It combines three wine growing subdistricts of Črnomelj, Metlika and Semič. Along this road one can visit wine shops, wine growers, tourist farms, accommodation facilities, beekeepers, etc. In addition to the tasting of selected sorts of Bela krajina wines, particularly “belokranjec” and “metliška črnina”, you can also have a taste of the local flat cake. Still warm “pogača” tastes best in the autumn time, when the fruits of the vine turn into vintage wines. You can take a ride across viny hills by bus, by car or even by environmentally-friendly horse carriage. Those who love to exercise can take a bike or perhaps simply walk between vineyards and vineyard cottages. The area of Drašiči yearly offers a whole-day tour along eight vineyard cottages. Wine, the central theme of the visit along the wine road, is at the same time the guiding element of the most famous tourist and wine event in Slovenia called “Vinska vigred”, which takes place in Metlika every May. But a very vibrant time is brought by St. Martin, »who creates wine out of must«. Consequenty, every bigger settlement in Bela krajina organizes “martinovanje”, the baptising of the new wine. There are various other forms of celebrating our wine patron, who is soon followed by St. Urban, the patron of vine. However, we cannot talk about the quality, were it not for the competitive spirit among many wine growers. Various local testings and testings on the state level have given drive to currently acknowledged winegrowers, who undoubtedly gave their share to the recognition of the region.

The longest Slovenian coastline, River Kolpa[edit]

The river Kolpa, our longest Slovene riviera, 292 km long, is one of the warmest and cleanest rivers in Slovenia. Kolpa marks about 113 km of state border with the Republic of Croatia. From natural aspects the river Kolpa offers an intact, picturesque and invaluable source of inner piece. A part of the river, the area from Stari trg to the village Fučkovci, is a protected area of the Regional Park Kolpa. Particular care is given to 16 natural treasures and 41 cultural landmarks, which are placed near the river and around. The river is partitioned by more than 50 dams, which are typically made of stones and are an aftermath of mills, sawmills and blacksmith's, which are no longer standing. However, some dams still serve their purpose. Kolpa is rich with flaura and fauna. Many rare, endangered bird species have found their place of living at its vicinity, particularly those birds which are connected to water. Village Miliči hosts around twenty pairs of grey herons. There is also an otter which is one of the most endangered European mammals. Latest researches have discovered as many as 39 autochthon fish species in the river. This indicates that nature is still intact in this area.

The river is attractive all year round. But it is particularly popular in summer months, when it is good for swimming, as the water's temperature rises even up to 30°C. If you decide to pay Kolpa a visit, you surely won't regret it. You can choose among a wide rage of sports and recreational activities all along the river's stream, such as boating, canoeing, cayacing or rafting. The river is not very demanding and it is suitable even for first-time rowers. Even fishing lovers will get their share from the river. There are walking routes marked along the river. One of them is the “Southernmost Slovene Footpath”, which extends from village Radenci to Damelj, another one is a “Fair Path”, which runs just by the river. Cycle paths by the river also enable recreational pastime.

If you want to dwell on the river banks a while longer, there are also tourist farms, camps, inns or other accommodation facilities by the river and in its surroundings. You will undoubtedly be offered homemade dishes, good wine and an open heart.


Tourist products[edit]

Zeleni Jure We visit Bela krajina with “Zeleni Jurij” (a local guide), who accompanies us with his expert knowledge on all our destinations. First we gain some strength with a snack. Our journey starts in Črnomelj, where we visit the old town core and the parish church of St. Peter and the church of the Holy Ghost. This is followed by a longer stop at the Pastoral center, where we have a look at the remains of the wall from late Antiquity and from the middle Ages. The Malerič house - the home of Bela krajina craftsmen - is a perfect place to buy some cottage industry products. This visit is concluded with cheese and flat cake “belokranjska pogača”. Then we enjoy the wine tasting at the Črnomaljska cellar with expert guidance of the Wine Information Center personnel. The road then continues towards Vinica. We stop at the edge of the Lahinja Regional Park, in the village Veliki Nerajec, and get to know its peculiarities. Further, we take a walk up to the park's information cabin - a small house with a black kitchen and witness the shopping tour of the cottage industry gallery. Then we visit a known village in Bela krajina Adlešiči, where you can still see the home making of linen and admire the artistic colouring of painted eggs “belokranjske pisanice”. Our educational tour ends in the village Rosalnice, by a visit of the pilgrim Gothic church, called Tri fare. Finally, the merrytime at a tourist farm or at an inn with a local accordion player gives a perfect closing to a great day.

Lepa Anka Through the Gorjance mountain chain the road leads us to the land of white birch trees. As appropriate, the first stop is at an inn or at a tourist farm, so you can gain some strength before heading on your way. Our tourist guide waits for us to show us the itinerary of our trip. First we have a look at the old town core of Metlika and visit the Belokranjski museum, which explains the history of Bela krajina from prehistoric times to the middle of the 20th century. This is followed by the tour of Slovene Firebrigade Museum of Dr. Branko Božič, as Metlika is the cradle of Slovene voluntary fire brigade. Artistic souls can indulge their senses in the Kambič Galery. After completing all our visits, we do some shopping in the textile stores Beti and Komet and in the shop of original home appliances of the company Status. With full backpacks we continue our journey to nature and visit the source of the river Krupa. After observing this wonderful, swift and romantic rivulet, our journey continues towards the village Jankoviči, near Adlešiči. Village's plesant country house is a place where we can witness the procedure of linen processing, the colouring of “pisanice” and various other products of cottage industry. Your feelings and observations about the past day can be shared with friends during a rich dinner at an inn or at a tourist farm. All accompanied, of course, with the sounds of an accordion.


Between vineyards and the river Kolpa In early morning hours we arrive to Bela krajina. This region immediately offers a glass of wine and homemade dishes. A local tourist guide is an indispensable part of our journey. Firstly we walk around the old market square of Semič, visit the parish church of St. Štefan, and have a look at the camp walls and camp house. The first part of our journey ends by a visit of the Local Museum Collection of Semič, which offers a closer and detailed look at the history of Semič. Further, we pay a visit to a beekeeper and have a taste of bee products. Then our journey take us to the village Rožanec, which leads to the quiet natural environs of the temple of god Mitra Mitrej. The road then continue through Črnomelj towards Vinica. We make a stop at Lahinja Regional Park, in the village Pusti Gradac, with the old mill and Venetian saw. There we enter the church of All Saints and learn a thing or two about archeological findings. After spending some time in the pleasant natural environs, the road continues to Vinica, where we visit the birth place of the great Slovene poet Oton Župančič. With our hearts and minds full of rich natural and artistic impressions we drive to an inn or to a tourist farm, where a fine dinner and the sounds of an accordion player give a closing to a wonderful day.

Thematic trips[edit]

Bela krajina wine tourist road We go for a drive through Bela krajina wine tourist road in the morning hours. We have a look at the viticulture collection, which is a part of the Belokranjski Museum in Metlika. The place for wine tasting is the Metlika wine cellar. We are introduced to typical and autochthon sorts of wine. The fact that there is a long-lasting wine tradition in the region and that wine has a great meaning here, is confirmed in the village vineyard cottage named Soseska zidanica in the village Drašiči. After meeting the tradition and tasting dark red wine, the product of the work of 65 winegrowers, the wine tasting continues at a locally known winegrower. After a few samples you can compare the development of individual wine trademarks. Further, we drive to Semič and visit another known winegrower. After tasting some of his best wines from his wine cellar we drive off to the nearest inn or to a tourist farm, where the boldest amon you can greet the morning, after having a fine dinner and an entertaining night.


The Day of Bela krajina culinarics Entering Bela krajina you are immediately met with a typical snack (veal stew, buckwheat hard-boiled corn mush). After the snack we meet the local tourist guide, who takes us to exquisite cooks and their delicacies. You also meet the members of one of the Rural Women Associations. At the introductory workshop you can see the procedure of the baking of flat cake “belokranjska pogača” and other protected dishes of the region. Then we pay a visit to a housewife, who bakes bread at her farm as a supplementary activity. The marketing of such products and their demand on market is introduced to you directly by people responsible. Because Bela krajina is, only in the culinary sense, still rather mysterious, we continue to the village Veliki Nerajec. There the local women receive us with buckwheat potica and show us the pulse of the village, which is sitiuated on the edge of the Lahinja Regional Park. This is followed by a late lunch, which only additionally stresses the hospitality of local people. Merry tunes of an accordion then swing the day away.


Boating routes The boating route begins in Prelesje. The region from Prelesje to Fučkovci is the area of the Regional Park Kolpa. You can explore the river by boat, canoe or a smaller raft down to the village Kot near Kolpa, which is the next entrance/exit point. The river route then passes the small border crossing near village Sodevci, up to Spodnji Radenci and then further to the next entrance/exit point. This is followed by the descent down the canyon of the river Kolpa, above which the rock walls Mala and Velika Radenska stena rise up on the Slovene side, and up to the village Breg, where another stop is made. Here we can see a still working mill on the river and further on a karstic cave Kobiljača. This is followed by the descent towards Kot, which is the southernmost Slovene village, and to Damlje, which is the next entrance/exit point. During our stop we can have a look at the church of St. Mihael. The descent continues accros Krivec, where the river takes its cutting turn, past the small village Otok and villages Vukovci, Učakovci, Sečje selo towards Vinica, where soon after the border crossing near the dam our final entrance/exit point is reached. We can finish our route in Vinica or decide to continue down the stream, pass the villages Podklanec, Zilje, Pavlini, Dejani, Jakovini, Vidine, through Preloka to Žuniči, which is another small border crossing and information center, placed in the renewed country house “Šokčeva domačija”. The boating route then passes villages Marindol, Vrhovci, Adlešiči, Pobrežje, Fučkovci and Dragoše to the next entrance/exit point in Griblje. The river expedition is usually concluded by a picnic in the camp Podzemelj.


Natural Treasures[edit]

River Kolpa Kolpa has 5 great and unique qualities. It is the southernmost river in Slovenia. It is also one of the cleanest and most intact rivers in Slovenia. Its temperatures rise up to 30°C in summer. It is also rich with fish and serves best for family and recreational pastime.

River Lahinja First 7 kilometres from the source of river Lahinja is a protected area and is proclaimed as the area of the Regional Park Lahinja. It is situated southeast from Dragatuš, in the area of the villages Veliki Nerajec, Pusti Gradac, Mala Lahinja and Belčji vrh. The park comprises of the source area and the upper stream of river Lahinja. The central natural figure is Lahinja, but particular stress is given to 6 specially protected natural landmarks, 2 natural reserves and 5 cultural landmarks.

Source of the River Krupa It has the biggest source in Bela krajina, into which the underground waters from the hilly part of Bela krajina flow into. The river appears on the surface in the middle of the northern part of the Bela krajina flat area, in the village Krupa, some 3 km from Semič. The river takes its source under a 20 m high rock wall. The source is the living space of the proteus and is the only known habitat of the cave shell Congeria kusceri in Slovenia. The river Krupa with its surroundings represents a part of the educational path »From Lebica to Krupa«.

The source Jelševnik and Proteus Angunius from Bela krajina The black proteus or proteus anguinus is the subspecies of the proteus. It was discovered some 300 years after his white counterpart, in 1986, in the nearby source of Dobličica, and later also in the source Jelševnik. The source Jelševnik is the only place where the black proteus can be observed in its natural environment. You can meet the black proteus in the Zupančičeva house by the source, where you can also enjoy food, fish specialities and see the film about the proteus.

Fern areas The region of Bela krajina also hosts areas overgrown with birch trees and undergrowth of eagle fern. Local people named these natural phenomena “steljniki” (fern areas). The most beautiful fern areas are found in Vinomer near Metlika and in the vicinity of Marindol, a village south from Adlešiči. The meaning of the name Bela krajina derives from the image of white birch trees.

Gače About 800 m above sea level, 10 km from Semič, extends a popular beauty and excursion point of nature lovers - Gače above Črmošnjice. In the wintertime the Ski Recreation Center BELA invites people to skiing expeditions. Outside the winter season you are offered a wide range of country and recreational tourism.

Mirna gora Mirna gora is the highest peak in Bela krajina (1047 m) and at the same time one of the southeastern most risings of the vast Kočevski Rog. The belvedere guarantees a fantastic view of Bela krajina and Kolpa all the way to Karlovac and the Gorski Kotar mountain range in Croatia. The mountain lodge is the only constantly tended highland post. Mirna gora and Planina below it are the starting points and the final aim for many walking routes.

Smuk above Semič Smuk is a 547 m high tableland above Semič. Towards south and southeast Smuk extends down through forests, into the embrace of the Semiška gora on the sunny side, and all the way towards its foothills, into the clustered, partly dispersed settlement Semič. Smuk represents a second home to a hunter, a recreational athlete and a nature lover, as the renewed hunter's lodge is a good reason “to leave the troubles behind”.

Hrast near Vinica Bauxite deposit In the vicinity of the village Hrast pri Vinici you can visit one of the biggest and surface-wise one of the most beautiful bauxite deposits in Slovenia. Bauxite has been shaping for millions of years, which makes it a very important geologic natural heritage. Bauxite layers are found by the village water hole Krivača and in the nearby narrow pass of the road. In this area bauxite is covered by and mixed with humus. Heaps of artificially accumulated material at Krivača are the residues of the trial mining.


Cultural and historical heritage[edit]

Old town coresBold text

Bela krajina has two towns with preserved old town cores, Črnomelj and Metlika, while Semič is a typical market town.

Črnomelj settlement, originating from the Antiquity, developed at the confluence of two rivers Lahinja and Dobličica. The town core consists of the Medieval castle, commendam of the German Knight Order, and the former savings and loan bank building. The main street overlooks the St Peter's parish church, while the Gothic church of Sveti Duh and pastoral centre are located just a stone's throw away. Several buildings display memorial plaques demonstrating the importance of the town during the Second World War. Have you ever heard of the slogan, “Bela krajina the cradle of partisanship”? Malerič house - the house of Bela krajina craftsmen - is also an interesting sight for visitors. Apart from the sale of cottage industry products, the house frequently hosts various exhibitions and educational workshops. The wine-cellar of the Wine Information Centre Bela krajina is open to wine lovers in the town centre.

Metlika's old town core, celebrating 640th anniversary of city rights in 2005, comprises of Mestni trg, Trg svobode, Partizanski trg, and a few narrow streets. Due to the town's strategic position bellow the winegrowing hill Veselica and due to water which once surrounded the town, the old town core had a good natural defence function throughout history. The city centre is made up of many renowned buildings, the Metlika Castle, the first reading society in Dolenjska, the City Hall, the former Wach pharmacy building, and the Church of St Nikolaj. The Bela krajina Museum and the Slovene Firefighting Museum of Branko Božič can also be found in the town's city centre, while the Kambič Gallery is also located in the vicinity of the city centre.

Semič, with its town square Štefanov trg, is marked by its parish church of St Štefan, first mentioned in 1228 and built in the Baroque classicism style. The church premises are surrounded by partly preserved walls, which served as a defence against the Turks. The Taborska house, located within the walls, has been renovated, and now hosts regular painting exhibitions and various cultural performances, especially during summer months. Visitors can find out more about the town's history, from prehistory to the First World War, in the Local Museum Collection, where you can see the interior of an old wooden Bela krajina vineyard cottage.


HISTORICAL HERITAGE OUTDOORS

Mitrej above Rožanec Mitrej above Rožanec is one of the most attractive archaeological monuments in Slovenia, and can be found along the regional road Semič - Črnomelj, in the village Rožanec. The relief most likely originates from the second century, and the image of god Mitra carved into a rock has been preserved in its natural environment in the valley of chestnut forest Judovje, near the branch church of St Jurij. The cast of the relief from the 20th century can be seen in the Bela Krajina Museum in Metlika.

Castle Krupa ruins Not far from the spring of the river Krupa and roughly 4 km out of Semič, the Krupa Castle, one of the largest castles in Bela krajina, once spread out. This was a mighty construction with thick walls, which were reinforced with five towers in Valvasor times. Later the castle was rebuilt into a square multi-storey fortress with four corner towers and inner arcades. Several castle buildings were located in the vicinity: blacksmith's cottage, hayrack, stable, and granary. However, in 1942 the castle was burned down by the partisans to prevent the enemy from occupying it. After the war, the locals used the stones to renovate and build their homes, therefore, only the ruins of the castle's granary have been preserved.

Pobrežje The colossal fortress located on the steep rock above the river Kolpa was built in 1557 by Captain Ivan Lenkovič from Žumberak, and it served as a successful defence against the Turks. During the Second World War the fortress was burned down, however, the Late Gothic front gate is definitely worth a visit.

Stari trg ob Kolpi Stari trg (“The Old Market”) is the largest settlement in Poljanska dolina, and lies 15 km from Črnomelj. Its name originates from the period of the Turkish invasion, when Stari trg played a strategic role and was an important trade centre. The wide central street, surrounded by one-storey houses, ends with a parish church of St Jožef. The church of St Andrej na Kalvariji lies outside the settlement, along the road Stari trg - Deskova vas. The path to the church twists among 12 chapels the Calvary, erected in the year 2000. Fourteen original chapels, which stood on both sides of the road, were destroyed during the Second World War. Stone gates of some houses in Stari trg might be a particular point of interest to some visitors.

Dragatuš Dragatuš is a clustered settlement along the road Črnomelj - Vinica, located 8 km from Črnomelj. The church of Janez Krstnik, which was built in the 19th century, ruined during the Second World War and rebuilt after it, boasts in the town centre. The Slovene poet Oton Župančič spent his childhood years in Dragatuš, and visitors can pay him respect in the memorial room of the Župančičev hram inn. Only a stone's throw away, the Regional Park Lahinja begins to tell you its own story.

Vinica - the birthplace of poet Oton Župančič Vinica is a clustered settlement situated high above the river Kolpa, next to the Slovene-Croatian border and 18 km from Črnomelj. Vinica, already inhabited in prehistory, is nowadays marked by an international border crossing. The remains of the Vinica Castle are an important document of the past. The birth house of the poet Oton Župančič is located in the centre of Vinica and has been renovated, as the original house burned down in the great fire of 1888. The poet's memorabilia is displayed on the ground floor, while the first floor is dedicated to his Vinica compatriot Oton Berkopec. The bust of Župančič can be seen in the garden and it is the work of Jakob Savinšek.

DC-3 Airplane, Otok The airplane is located along the road Črnomelj - Metlika, in the direction of the village Otok, 5 km from Metlika. The plane is dedicated to all Slovene and Bela krajina airports operating during the time of the National Liberation Front. The plane can be seen at any time, while the sport airport Prilozje lies in the vicinity of the plane.

Vineyard Cottage “Soseska zidanica”, Drašiči Vineyard cottage “soseska zidanica” is based in the cellar of an old house in the centre of Drašiči, next to the church of St Peter. It has been welcoming its guests and villagers for over 250 years under the same name. Its specialty is that you can try drinking wine of 65 winegrowers from a single glass. Also you can realize »rovaš«, a piece of short split wood, where owners used to score drinking debt or wine consumption of an individual.

Šokčev dvor, Žuniči Šokčev dvor in Žuniči is a typical Bela krajina farm house of the near Kolpa area, and protected cultural heritage in the Regional Park Kolpa. The farm can be spotted off the Vinica - Adlešiči road when entering the village, 20 km from Črnomelj. This is a farm house with an enclosed courtyard, consisting of a house, a shed and a barn, all connected by a wall with an entrance door. In this renovated house visitors can see the farm room, where old furniture, cradle, old farm clothes and home-made linen have been put on display. The other room with an old baker's oven serves as a dining room and is appropriate for groups and other visitors.

Adlešiči Adlešiči and several other villages are renowned for their cottage industry. Linen, embroidery work, and painted Easter eggs “belokranjske pisanice” are still made here. If you try making painted Easter eggs or embroidery yourself, you will be able to pass on the tradition of Bela krajina to your children.

Castle ruins on Smuk above Semič Ruins of the manor Smuk, abandoned two centuries ago, rise up from the ground west of the church St. Lovrenc. In the Valvasor times, this was a multi-storey castle building, surrounded by smaller outbuildings. The castle was abandoned at the end of the 19th century, and was already severely damaged in 1900. The pilgrim church of St. Lovrenc was once a small chapel of Smuk lords of the castle by the name Lichtenberg, which is confirmed by the family coat-of-arms in the pulpit and a memorial stone in the pavement. The interior of the church was built in baroque style. The high altar dates back to 1911 and was made by the brothers Jereb.

A memorial symbol in Gornje Laze In the village Gornje Laze, 10 minutes drive from Semič, stands a landmark dedicated to the fallen combatants of the 1st Bela krajina troops, founded on October 28th,1941 on Smuk. In the memory of the National Liberation Front and the fallen combatants, the residents of Semič mark this day by a municipal celebration.

Plague spot (kužno znamenje) Plague spot on Trata, near the road to Semič, is one of the oldest and rarest signs built of stone in Bela krajina. It is a reminder of the plague, which has devastated the region some centuries ago. The sign is built of stone and has a square ground plan. It seems as if it is composed of three parts, where the lower part is made of stone, the middle one is an accessory with niches and the upper part is a roof. The accessory with niches is its most varied part. It used to house wooden statues, but they were removed and replaced by plaster casts. The plague spot is well looked after by the locals, who named it “Pild”.


SACRAT ART


Tri fare (three parishes) in Rosalnice The renowned Tri fare pilgrimage centre is located in the north-eastern part of the village Rosalnice near Metlika. The pilgrimage complex is distinguished by its three Gothic churches, which are enclosed by a high churchyard wall. Temporarily they are placed in the 15th and 16th century, however the researches have not been concluded yet.The churches stand side by side: the northern church is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, the central church is dedicated to Ecce homo (Behold the Man) and the southern church is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. The parish office in Metlika is organises visits of this most important object in Bela krajina.

The Church of Sv. Trojica (Holy Trinity Church) The church overlooks the village Vinji vrh. It was built in 1647 after the model of an old pilgrimage church in Nova Štifta near Ribnica. The open shack in front of the church with a stone pulpit and an altar indicates a pilgrimage church. As the church was overcrowded during “žegnanje” (the blessing of food), the people performed their rituals outside the church. The church has an octagonal shape and is covered by a shingled dome. The main gilt altar, also renowned for size among the 18th century Dolenjska carved products, occupies the entire presbytery. Under the picture of Holy Trinity, a gilt sculpture of the Holy Trinity crowning Mother Mary can be found. The church also has two richly decorated wooden side altars and a wooden pulpit. Due to its shape, the church served as a model for building some neighbouring churches.

Žeželj above Vinica A renowned St Mary's pilgrimage church is situated on Žeželj above Vinica. A walk from the village Golek winds through the Calvary with14 chapels and takes us to the spacious church built in the second half of the 17th century with a large shack in front of the main entrance. The three-storey gilt main altar, the biggest in Bela krajina, originates from the first half of the18th century, while the pulpit with Mary's monogram dates back to the second half of the 18th Century. The side altar also derives from the same century, but was renovated in the 19th century.

The Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodius in Metlika The Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodius is one of the two churches of the Greek Catholic religion in Slovenia. The second, St. Svetica with its cemetery, is located in Draga near Suhor. The church was built in 1903 and it seats approximately 50 people. The local Greek Catholic priest is the only Slovenian iconographer. He has presented tens of his works in Slovenia as well as abroad.

Orthodox church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Miliči The church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Miliči was built in the second half of the 19th century and is connected to the Uskoki orthodox ethnic enclave in Miliči and Marindol. This gives the church a particular meaning not only within the Bela krajina area, but wider as well. Its uniformly constructed architecture is a reflection of ecclesiastical construction trends at the end of the 19th century, whereas its isolated and exposed position within the greater area also qualifies the church among the monuments of extreme ambiental importance.


Cultural institutions in Bela Krajina[edit]

Bela krajina museum in Metlika The Bela krajina Museum, which is based in Metlika Castle, has been open since 1951. The permanent display, consisting of numerous objects, partly spatial representations and pictorial and documentary material, presents local lifestyles from prehistory to the mid 20th century. The permanent display is introduced by a 15 minute film “The Images of Bela Krajina”. Metlika Castle also features the Gangl Gallery for temporary exhibitions, which is part of Bela krajina Museum Metlika.

Slovene firebrigade museum of Dr. Branko Božič The Slovene Firebrigade Museum lies in Metlika's old town core, only a stone's throw away from the Bela krajina Museum. It traces the history of fire fighting in three parts, and was opened in 1969, at the centenary establishment of Slovene voluntary fire brigades.

Kambič Gallery The Kambič Gallery in Metlika exhibits nearly 200 works by various painters donated by the academic Professor Vinko Kambič. A part of the Gallery is also dedicated to temporary painting exhibitions.

Local museum collection Semič The Local Museum Collection Semič offers an insight into the history of Semič, its surroundings and into the lives of the inhabitants from prehistory to the end of the Second World War. The Museum also features a very interesting viticulture collection.

Municipal museum collection Črnomelj The Municipal Museum Collection Črnomelj is based in Črnomelj Castle and presents the historical development of the town and its significant natural and cultural heritage. The collection features the cuisine of our grandmothers from the 1950s.

Memorial collection of Oton Župančič, Vinica The memorial collection presenting the life and work of Bela krajina's greatest poet Oton Župančič is based in his birth house. The house and the exhibited memorabilia show the respect the inhabitants of Bela krajina have for their immortal poet.

Public fund for cultural activities (JSKD) The JSKD has established fifty-eight branch offices in Slovene urban centres to stimulate equal and evenly balanced development of amateur culture throughout the country. Bela krajina has two branch offices in Metlika and Črnomelj. The branch offices hold more than 2.250 cultural events annually in various spheres (music, theatre and puppet theatre, folklore, film and video, dance, painting, literature and intermedia projects). Mostly, these are broad promotional events or educational programmes by amateur associations and individuals on regional and interregional levels.

Kolpa Regional Park The Kolpa Natural Park was declared in 1998. The basic purpose of the Natural Park is conservation of valuable natural features, biodiversity, and landscape diversity, as well as implementation of measures for ensuring preservation of Natura 2000 areas and ecologically important areas in the park. The purpose of the park is also connecting economic and social development in the area of Kolpa Natural Park and cross-border cooperation. The manager of the park, the Public Institute Kolpa Natural Park, performs within the public service of nature conservation also protection, expert, supervisory, and managerial tasks in the area of the park


Cultural and Educational Institute Črnomelj (ZIK) The institute offers educational programmes from various spheres of life to everyone willing to learn. It has established a stimulant study environment, and has been developing cultural programmes and projects. ZIK Črnomelj is also a central cinema, responsible for film programme of all cinemas in Bela krajina. An amateur theatre group, very important for the local cultural activity, also works within the institute.

Public library Metlika The Public Library Metlika is a general library, collecting, keeping, processing and lending library material. Its objective is to educate, inform and satisfy the cultural needs of the community members. The library also has its units in Radovica, Suhorje and Gradec.

Črnomelj and Semič library The library was established in 1962, and since then its book fund has increased from 2.500 to 37.546 library and non-library units. Apart from book lending, the library also prepares various exhibitions, performed fairytale hours, puppet theatre, creative workshops, lectures, presentations of new publications, literary evenings, book puzzles, etc.


Sports and recreation[edit]

European footpath of Bela krajina region Begins in Gornje Laze and takes us to Smuk, a very popular tourist sight, offering a stunning view of Bela krajina, and a hunter's lodge open non-stop. The trail leads us across Osojnik - Brezova reber - Maline and Jugorje, towards Vahta and Gospodična above Gorjanci. The entire footpath is approximately 14 km long, and the control stamps can be obtained on Smuk and in Badovinac Inn on Jugorje.

Bela krajina partisan path The path takes us around Bela krajina and reminds us of the times during the National Liberation Front from the Second World War. Direction: Metlika (Pungart)- Rakovec - Radovica - Suhor - Smuk - Semič - Mirna gora - Črnomelj Dobliče - Stari trg ob Kolpi - Vinica - Dragatuš - Adlešiči - Podzemelj - Gradac - Metlika. The path is marked by a variety of Bela krajina's nature and on your way you can experience the genuine hospitality of the local people.

Hiking paths around Mirna gora Mirna gora is one of the highest peaks in Bela krajina (1047 m) and one of the most south-eastern rising grounds of vast Kočevski rog. Mirna gora and Planina represent a great starting point for other hiking paths: Educational Forest Path Planina - Mirna gora, length: 3.5 km; duration: 2.5 hours Along the Trail of Forest Railway Črnomelj - Leseni kamen, length: 4 km; duration: 1 hour Shepherd's Path, length 10 km; duration: 4 hours Trdinova Path, Mirna gora is part of the Trdinova Path, connecting Kočevski rog and Gorjanci with the outskirts of Krško hill range. From the peak the path leads us to the neighbouring control points: Gače (955m), distance: 4.5 km, duration: 1.5 hours or Smuk (547 m), distance: 10.5 km, duration: 3 hours

Karstic educational path from Lebica to Krupa This scenic path leads us along shallow karst in the narrow hinterland of the river Krupa and along the river itself. The karstic region with numerous sinkholes, small springs, stone commons, fern areas, fern forest, naturally preserved forest of Sessile oak and hornbeam and the river Krupa is an exceptional study area outdoors. Three small karstic caves are a natural treasure on the way: water karst cave Lebica, Malikovec and Judovska hiša, which is the only verified Palaeolithic cave in Bela krajina. Another proof of the shallow karstic world is only a few meters deep sinkhole Vodenica with a constant spring and sinkhole Medvednica. The walk along the entire path takes four hours.

Path to Trdinov vrh Direction: Metlika (Pungart) - Berčice - Grabrovec - Bušinja vas - Ravnace - zavetišče - Mali Lipovec - Trdinov vrh. The entire walk takes seven hours, while the walk from Suhor to the top takes five hours and a half, and four hours from Jugorje to Trdinov vrh. The path to Suhor runs among vineyards, the picturesque forest and the colourful nature of Bela krajina.

Educational path Zdenc-Vidovec, Božakovo On the edge of Bela krajina karstic flatland and east of the village Božakovo, we can find two magnificent karstic caves Zdenc and Vidovec. Božakovo stretches alongside the river bank, where Kolpa has carved its way deep into the river valley with a high Magdalenska rock. We strongly recommend a visit to the Baroque church of St Magdalena. The spring cave Zdenc with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the most extraordinary spring caves in Bela krajina, revealing the once strong bond between people and karstic springs. The spring flowing out of the cave under the village was dammed by the villagers, and the 78 metre long spring cave stretches behind the fenced entrance. The cave Vidovec, 270 m, is the longest water cave in Bela krajina, parallel carved by the brook Vidovec. The entire walk takes one hour.

Urbanova path Not many people have heard of the village Grabrovec, marked by the church of St Urban, the patron of vine. The Urbanova Path begins in Metlika, and through vineyards, forest and fields leads us to the church of St Urban. Every May and the New Year's Eve, the locals organise a traditional party near the church. A similar landscape takes us back to Metlika and concludes the 6.3 km long path.

Castle forest educational footpath Dragatuš The circular Castle Forest Educational Footpath begins in Obrh, 2 km from Dragatuš, and takes three hours. The journey starts near the spring Obrščica, flowing into the river Lahinja. The path leads us past the castle Turn, the French cave, past the springs Kotel and Sela towards Pusti Peter, where a church once stood and where hikers can take part in a holy mass. Further on, our journey continues past Obrlinc- winegrowing region and Zapudje, back to our starting point. Hikes are organised several times a year. In December you can participate in a hike with torches, while in January you can visit the Christmas crib in nature near Pusti Peter.

Path to Krašnji vrh The highest lying village of Metlika region, situated 526 metres above sea level, offers a spectacular panoramic view of Bela krajina. The local mountain association from Metlika built a 17-meter high belvedere, which will only fascinate you even more. Marked mountain footpath leads to the village from Metlika. The footpath stretches across fields, forests and vineyards, passes villages Slamna vas and Bojanja vas, where upon it reaches Krašnji vrh, and continues to the village Radovica and then back to Metlika.

Župančičeva path from Dragatuš to Vinica The Župančičeva Path is dedicated to the great Slovene poet Oton Župančič. It connects places between the poet's birthplace Vinica and the village Dragatuš, where he spent his childhood years. The path leads us through a typical Bela krajina landscape, with its natural and cultural sights. A traditional hike from Dragatuš to Lahinja Regional Park is organised annually, every second Saturday in July, and takes us through villages Hrast and Perudina to Žeželj above Vinica, along the pilgrim path to Golek and Vinica.

The Mlinarska footpath from Damelj to Vinica The Mlinarska footpath leads across the Landscape Park Kolpa, and is approximately 10 kilometres long. The path has no steep ascents or descents. It mostly takes its pace along the river Kolpa; it is diverse and undemanding, hence it is appropriate for all types of adventurists. Following the marked route, the walk will take you about two hours.

Path across the Semiška gora It is a circular path, which begins and ends on the Štefanov square at the Local Museum Collection Semič. The path combines various cultural, natural, sacral, and historical sites and monuments as well as Semič tourism service providers (the Pavlin Beekeeping, the Excursion Farm Jokovčan, and Malnarič Vineyards and Orchards). A part of the path winds across the Bela krajina Wine Road. Its highest point is the Smuk plateau (547m). The whole tour takes about 5 hours.

Fair footpath from Vinica to Žuniči The Fair Footpath from Vinica to Žuniči takes us through the Regional Park Kolpa. In the past the trail was used by people from villages near and far, as well as from neighbouring Croatia, when taking livestock to the fair in Vinica. The traditional hike around the path takes place every spring. A part of the path takes us along the picturesque river Kolpa, past abandoned mills and sawmills, while the rest of the path winds through villages and forests. We can admire a typical landscape of the region, and observe various natural and cultural treasures.

The southernmost slovene footpath The Southernmost Slovene Footpath is unique in the area of the Regional Park Kolpa, and winds along the river Kolpa, past the spring Trpotec the water of eternal youth to the village Breg, where we can find the last functioning mill on Kolpa. Kobiljača, the longest karstic cave in Bela krajina is situated a stone's throw away from the mill. Further, the trail takes us to the French stone and the southernmost village Kot near Damelj, where the southernmost point of Slovenia is marked. The hike finishes in the picturesque village Damelj. The traditional hike along the Southernmost Slovene Footpath usually takes place in May and the participants can enjoy genuine hospitality of local people and their culinary specialities.

C Y C L E P A T H S

Bela krajina offers numerous cycle paths, which are very appropriate and popular due to natural variety of the terrain. Several natural and cultural sights can be encountered along these routes. The cycle guide booklet includes technical details of the marked routes and interesting locations, where you can take a break, have a rest and freshen up.

B O A T I N G O N T H E R I V E R K O L P A

Boating on the river Kolpa, one of the cleanest and warmest rivers in Slovenia, guarantees an unforgettable experience. It does not only offer swimming and sunbathing on its banks, but also various sporting activities, such as boating, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, fishing, to name just a few. Along the stream of the river you can find a friendly tourist offer.

P A R A G L I D I N G

Smuk above Semič Smuk is a 546 m high tableland above Semič. Towards south and southeast, Smuk descends through forests all the way down to the foothills of the sunny Semiška gora and to the clustered and partly dispersed settlement Semič. On the road from Dolenjske Toplice to Črnomelj, a sign in Gaber directs you to a rather narrow turning, which leads you across Semiška gora to Smuk. The route winds through vineyards and vineyard cottages. The tableland Smuk rises on your left, while the look to the right offers a breathtaking view of Bela krajina. Smuk is a starting point of paragliders and hang-gliders, and attracts the lovers of these sports from across Slovenia.

W I N T E R S P O R T S

Ski centre BELA - Gače above Črmošnjice At the sea level from 700 to 965 metres lies a popular viewpoint, particularly appreciated by winter sports lovers. Ski Centre BELA offers more than 55 hectares of ski-slopes, with the capacity of 6.000 skiers per hour. The ski-slopes are mostly appropriate for recreational skiers, while beginners can attend a ski school. The ski centre offers a training polygon and well-kept ski slopes, ski hire and equipment servicing, and “wellness” tourism in the nearby spa Dolenjske Toplice. Pleasant summer months are perfect for cycling and hiking through the peaceful countryside.

S P O R T F L Y I N G

Sport airport at Prilozje It is a perfect hideaway place for airsport enthusiasts as well as for coincidental visitors to Bela krajina. The airport is situated in Prilozje, in the nearby vicinity of the river Kolpa and a few kilometres from the regional road Črnomelj – Metlika. Within the sphere of tourism management the Prilozje airport, which is managed by the Aeroklub Bela krajina, develops and maintains the tourist »air bridge« with other sport airports in Slovenia. In Prilozje you can enjoy the spectacular panoramic flight and admire the natural beauties of Bela krajina from the sky. Furthermore, the sight's natural infrastructure and auxiliary facilities frequently hold bigger events and meetings that host up to a few thousand people




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