Slovenian regions

Author: Polona Prešeren, Danila Golob

Date: 7. October 2019

Time to read: 3 min

Slovenia's location at the crossroads of the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain and the Dinaric Mountain Range, has through the centuries enabled its regions to develop different economic activities, lifestyles and expressions of cultural creativity.

Some regions are of historical origin (e.g. Gorenjska, Dolenjska, Notranjska, Primorska, Štajerska, Koroška and Prekmurje) while others were created after the Second World War by political decisions (e.g. Pomurje, Posočje and Kozjansko). Among the greatest treasures of these regions are the diversity of dialects of the Slovenian language, different housing and gastronomic traditions, popular entertainment and other aspects of the everyday life of the local population.

Notranjska

Notranjska was arguably the first region to have become more widely known in the world, thanks to the Slovenian nobleman, castle-owner and polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693), whose comprehensive opus, "The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola", describes the special natural and cultural characteristics of this part of Slovenia.

Valvasor's treatise on the intermittent Lake Cerknica earned him membership of the Royal Society of London in 1687.

Also to Valvasor’s credit is the first mention of the skiing tradition on the Bloke plateau in Notranjska, which puts Slovenia alongside the Scandinavian countries as one of the cradles of European and world skiing.

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Dolenjska and Bela krajina

The countryside of Dolenjska is hilly and varied. Green.

The River Krka is a lifeline and proudly referred to by the locals as the Dolenjska Beauty.

Downstream, the river gently meanders through Novo mesto (the capital of Dolenjska), Otočec and Kostanjevica.  Upstream, it flows through the Krka Valley and Suha krajina where it reveals its dynamic karst nature with tuff formations in the riverbed. The valley of the River Krka also boasts many ancient castles, of which the castle at Otočec stands out.

The part of Dolenjska around the towns of Ribnica and Kočevje is home to traditional wooden ware, known locally under the name of suha roba, as well as pottery.

The region known as Bela krajina is isolated from the rest of Slovenia by the Gorjanci hills. It is considered one of the country’s most romantic regions, imbued with southern Pannonian traditions.  It is known for its wine-producing slopes, and also for its traditional beautifully decorated Easter eggs called belokranjske pisanice.

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Štajerska

Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia and the capital of the Štajerska region famed for its vineyards. The city lies between wine-producing hills and the forested slopes of the Pohorje. The symbiosis of the city and the vine is affirmed by the 400-year old vine of the local žametovka variety, which grows in the Lent Quarter of the city on the left bank of the River Drava. It is the oldest vine in the world.

Celje, once the seat of the Counts of Cilli, an influential aristocratic dynasty from the 15th century, is today one of Slovenia’s most dynamic and rapidly developing towns.

The town's glorious past is reflected in the ruins of the mighty castle, once the largest in Slovenia. Celje is not far from the Savinja and Šaleška valleys. The former is known for hop cultivation. The Štajerska and Dolenjska regions meet in Posavje and Bizeljsko where you can relax in one of the many thermal spas and modern wellness centres.  

The unspoilt landscape of Kozjansko offers quality produce, such as old apple varieties grown in orchards surrounded by meadowlands, characteristic sights in the Kozjansko Regional Park.

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Prekmurje

Flat land covered by cornfields stretches from the left bank of the River Mura to the Austrian and Hungarian borders.

It is characterised by long roadside villages visited by storks, which return there each year.

Prekmurje used to be an important centre for pottery, one of the most ancient handicrafts in Slovenia. The trademark of the village of Filovci is black ceramics – water jugs called "pütra", wine jugs, bowls for sour milk and other pottery products. Farmers in Prekmurje used to carry water in "pütras" when they went to work in the fields because it remained cool despite the summer heat.

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Koroška

Though it is one of the smallest regions, Koroška is considered the cradle of the Slovenian nation. Following the plebiscite in 1920 the larger part of Koroška (Carinthia) came under Austrian rule. The Slovenian region of Koroška now encompasses three valleys, the Mežica, the Drava and the Mislinja, which are surrounded by three mountain ranges, the Pohorje, the Karavanke and the Savinja Alps.

The unspoilt nature and forests will satisfy the curiosity of any explorer. The magic of Koroška can be found in its precious details created by man and nature.

Koroška is associated with charcoal burning, timber rafting and ironworks. The unique creativity of its inhabitants is best observed in folk paintings, woodcarving crafts and special painted beehive panels.

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Gorenjska

The north-western part of Slovenia is Alpine and is known as Gorenjska.

For centuries, it has been the most developed Slovenian region.

This is best seen in the historical town centres of Škofja Loka, Radovljica, Kranj, Kamnik and Tržič where ironmaking (smelting and wrought-iron products) has been a decisive factor in development. The ironworks in the town of Jesenice, the cradle of Slovenian ice hockey, date from more recent times.

Gorenjska is synonymous with winter sports. Begunje is the headquarters of the leading ski manufacturer Elan, which revolutionised skiing with its carving innovation.

Numerous ski resorts and the world-famous ski-jump at Planica are all essential elements of the region’s winter image.

Bled, Bohinj and Kranjska Gora have always been the most popular Slovenian tourist destinations.

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Primorska

Primorska is also a historic region in the west of Slovenia. Within it, the Posočje area stretches from the shores of the Adriatic to the western borders of the Triglav National Park, all the way to the source of the River Soča. The site bears witness to the fierce fighting on the Isonzo Front during the First World War, which is documented at the Kobarid Museum. The battles in Posočje inspired Ernest Hemingway to write the novel A Farewell to Arms.

The River Soča is a true emerald-coloured gem in the heart of the mountains and a paradise for adventure-seeking visitors: white water kayaking, canoeing and rafting.

On the right bank of the Soča, near Nova Gorica, lies a wine-producing area known as Goriška Brda.

Slovenian Istria is most strongly associated with the sea. This is a very picturesque and varied landscape, characterised by vineyards, olive trees and Mediterranean fruit trees. On the coast, sea salt and flower of salt are harvested; the sea has fish in abundance; truffles can be found in the woods and meadows.

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