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24 November 2011

Skofja Loka

Every Wednesday has gotten to be my photographic day. Well, I'm out and about often but since we share turns with other mothers to have the kids in for lunch, supervise their homework, let them play, possibly creatively, and then take then to catechism class, it's on Wedsnedays that I venture away for longer photo sessions. When it's not my turn and I can do that, which happens 3 times per month, I pack my camera and go with the wind :). 

Last Wedsneday I went to Skofja Loka, a nearly surreal experience because the city is truly beautiful, with its medieval atmosphere and the charm that usually comes from river cities. I had to punch myself several times to wake me up from the ecstatic torpor I had fallen into. Rich cultural heritages always reduce me to a Sthendal affected. Not even the freezing weather stopped me. I have a very low tolerance to cold weather, but yesterday strolling around below zero was a piece of cake for me. There was too much to see, really.

The ride up there was very nice to start with. Once you exit the motorway at Ljubljana main junction, it's all about cuntryide meadows flanked by mountains, fields surrounding semi Alpine villages with traditional farmhouses and churches.
"Skofja Loka, a large city has ne’er been, and will ne’er large appear,
a winding road will take you there, which makes it hard to steer."Old Loka rhyme
The Stone Capuchin Bridge, a 14th gem that is the oldest of its kind in Europe and that is the most interesting access to the town, is the first thing you get to admire when you arrive.

Capuchin stone bridge (14th century), with the statue of St John of Nepomuk

There's an emblem engraved in the statue, it's the seal of the town. A legend tells that a feudal lord, Abraham of Bavaria, wanted to reward his black servant who had saved his life during a bear attack, one night they were travelling through this valley. The Lord wanted his servant's face painted on the town's coat of arms, so that future generations could know about the hero he was. 

Once you cross the bridge you enter the town through the Selca Town Gate and find yourself in Blazeva Street, an interesting part of the city that features the Nun's Church and several narrow passages that leads to the main square.

The city dates back to 1200's, though a major earthquake destroyed a great part of it in 1511, but what was rebuilt later is very well preserved. Loka dominion owned for 830 years by the Bishops of Freising, who placed an indelible stamp on the city. Town Square, or simply the Square (Plac), used to be the centre of social and business life; that's why the buildings here are bigger and richer.

You can really tell people started to benefit from the territoy annexion to the rein of Bavaria. Wellfare started to spread when the city became a feudal preside and commerce flourished. It's when all types of arts started, also favoured by the rich land blessed by the confluence of two rivers, Poljanska Sora and Selška Sora

Locals divide the old Loka into two main areas – the Plac (the above market) and the Lontrg (the below market). Loka Castle, built before 1202, reigns above them. Historically it has been the place of administrator of the town and it remains the town's main symbol to present days. It was quite a walk up to the fortress and the museum but it was well worth the effort. 

Unfortunately, the fog didn't allow me to admire the surely spectacular views across the mountains and valleys that surround the town. Never mind, it gives me an excuse to go again. I deifintely must return in Spring and then in summer. In the last week end of June they held The Venus Trail and I can't miss the opportunity to see a combination of medieval market, presentation of old customs and crafts, workshops for children and adults, musical and dancing events, performances and entertainment. I also read they revive the old recipes! A must-go, definitely!

Before continuining my tour, I needed a break and felt like warming with a nice slice of something and a hot cup, so I headed to a cafe. There I had a delicious Prekmurska gibanica, a layered pastry filled with cream, honey and walnuts. Heaven!

With my full stomach and all warmed up, I was ready to continue my exploration and I then headed off to the old district of Puštal, which was described as featuring picturesque houses, many of them preserved as monuments.I had no idea of their charm until I watched them live, It was one of the loveliest strolls I had in months :)

Among them, Nace House is the most interesting. It's an open-door house and a museum. It dates from the 15th century and has been protected as an ethnographic monument of Slovene architectural and cultural heritage. It is one of the oldest wooden houses left standing in Slovenia.

I spent a long time exploring its surrounding, then I spotted a solitary bench on the river of its territory and sat for a while enjoying the rural landscape and writing notes on my Moleskine. People who lived here were vey lucky indeed!

The river has a carachteristic wood bridge that connects the oldest part of the district to town. It's called the Devil's Bridge, where there used to be a mill, a sawmill and a forge and where there were elected small memorials to scare the devil that lived on the wild river.

Another important building of this enchanting distric is Puštal Manor, which was built in the 13th century and was for many years home to the Puštal lords. In the 17th century it passed into the hands of the Oblak family, which acquired its wealth and aristocratic title through iron trading. Today the manor contains a music school.

What a beautiful day out there! And I'm sure the more I go, the more I can't stop taking pics. Each corner of that city deserves a painting, there's a lot to see and find out, honestly. So any visit is highly recommended, in any season. Chosing photos to post was one of the most difficult tasks of me as a travelogues writer. I hope you enjoyed anyway and that I inspired you enough for today. See you soon!

1 comment:

  1. A great tribute to a beautiful town! I loved it, too!


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