The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo. The assassination led directly to the First World War which spread rapidly. The southwest battlefield front, part of which was the Isonzo Front, also spread to Bohinj that became an immediate front hinterland.
The territory west of the Sv. Janez Hotel (close to current Jezero Hotel) was closed to civilians. The movement of civilians in Bohinj was strictly limited. Supply tracks ran via Bohinj. The car road to Savica, a wide horse track to Komna and two cargo cableways were built for this purpose. Army barracks were built in Ukanc and locals had to host soldiers in their houses. Numerous diseases occurred due to a large number of soldiers, including cholera.
DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES OF WAR
In 1918, the war ended and the results were quite severe for the people of Bohinj. Many men and boys had died on the battlefields in Russia, at the Isonzo Front and in Tirole. The Bohinj ridge was occupied by Italians who kept their positions above the Lower Bohinj Valley. The new state border with Italy dealt a severe blow to the promising tourism development. It cut off Trieste and Gorizia, which had presented an important tourist setting before the war.
Two preserved WWI cemeteries, one in Ukanc and the other at Rebro in Bohinjska Bistrica, prove how strongly the war affected the life in Bohinj. The collectors of documentation about the war, who upon the initiative of Janko S. Stušek and Tomaž Budkovič in 1982 founded the Small War Museum Association, helped preserve the memories of wartime, as well as the collection in the Bohinj History Museum in the house of Tomaž Godec.
PRVA SLOVENSKA RAZSTAVA O PRVI SVETOVNI VOJNI JE BILA POSTAVLJENA PRAV V BOHINJU
Anja Poštrak describes the Small War Museum collection in her monograph: Mirno spite vojaki večno spanje: Gorenjska in Gorenjci 1914–1918 (Soldiers, Sleep Peacefully Your Eternal Sleep: Gorenjska and the People of Gorenjska 1914–1918) that the people from Gorenjska brought items from the war from the former Krn hinterland to the valley. “The Krn mountain range as part of the Isonzo Front still remains the monument and the remainder of the war events, since there are still many remnants of dugouts, bunkers, wire fences and military shelters.” The collected items were used in 1989 for the exhibition entitled “The Front in the Julian Alps Museum” in the house of Tomaž Godec. This was the first exhibition about the First World War, that was set up more than a decade before the museum in Kobarid.
Anja Poštrak, the curator and manager of museums in Bohinj, commented: “The thunder in the mountains as a constant reminder about the war settled more than a century ago, but the collectors from Bohinj and their collections preserve the memory of that time. This collection is one of the most extensive and well-preserved collections of that time and importantly contributes to the history of Bohinj. As such, it motivates us to think about the suffering and straits that soldiers on both sides of the border experienced, and consequently about the rationality of war.”
ABOUT THE EXHIBITED COLLECTION
The collection features more than 600 items that speak about the stories at the front stretching from the edge of Banjška Planota plateau to Mrzli Vrh, and from Krn to Rombon. With various items, it leads us “from the hinterland with war propaganda and pamphlets to food coupons and other coupons that speak about the lack of materials and social problems, to the organisation during the war including the railway, cableways and supply stations. Products made from linden sticks (picture frames, crosses) are a reminder of the Russian prisoners of war who worked in the hinterland.
A major part of the collection is dedicated to the front in the high mountain range, especially the weapons and tools used for survival. Many grenades, bombs, guns, pistols, mines, bayonets, missiles, maces, swords and metres of barbed wire are the remnants that speak about the bloody battles and about the fighting method. The collected tools include various tongs for barbed wire, chisels, drills and spikes for the construction of caverns, shovels, axes and mattocks. The items from the cavern show the soldier’s everyday life. There are many such items in the collection, ranging from personal items (e.g. toothbrushes, buttons, wooden and porcelain pipes, bottles for medicines and ink …) to mess tins, beer bottles and tableware. The last part of the collection, i.e. the memorial symbols, reminds us about death and killings.
A very important part of the collection includes memorial medals, badges, rings and coins as well as other memorial items (e.g. vase from grenade casing, iron ashtray …). The items are supplemented by photographs, maps and other documents (postcards, newspaper cuttings, brochures about the war …).
The items and the collection as a whole are especially interesting from two aspects. Initially, from the aspect of the environment from which they emerge. It refers to the high mountain battlefield where battles occurred in a specific situation. It was very cold. The first battles were followed by a winter with a thick layer of snow, therefore, warm clothes, mountain shoes, hiking poles, crampons or spiked soles, spats and skis were required and presented obligatory equipment. On the other hand, the unique items that were used by soldiers to adapt to their stay on the front and which show the soldier’s soul and man’s desire to survive the hardest moments, are very interesting (e.g. a colander made from a soldier’s helmet, grater for parmesan made from a mess tin, or candlestick made from a tin and which was used as the only source of light in the cavern). The items have been preserved very authentically, which is mostly the result of diligent conservation methods, where no major interventions were made to attain their original condition.”
The Small War Museum collection was supplemented by the Gorenjski Muzej with original metal plates from wooden crosses on the graves of the soldiers who died during WWI, i.e. from the cemetery in Ukanc, which were stored and preserved during restoration works in 1993.
Source: Anja Poštrak: Zbirka Malega vojnega muzeja. In: Mirno vojaki spite večno spanje: Gorenjska in Gorenjci 1914–1918. Gorenjski muzej, Kranj 2014, p. 26–29.
SUPPLY HINTERLAND FOR THE KRN BATTLEFIELD THEMED TRAIL
World War I left an indelible mark on our soil and its traces are still visible in Bohinj. When Italy joined the war, Bohinj became an important supply centre for the northern part of the Isonzo Front, since it had a traffic connection by railway and it was remotely located in the hinterland of the battlefield that was outside the reach of cannons.
Today, the Bohinj themed trail is part of the Peace Trail that runs along the remnants of the Isonzo Front and as part of the former hinterland of the front has special meaning thematically and infrastructurally. You cannot see any trenches, caverns, bunkers or military fortresses, but you will see and read many war stories.
THE TRAIL OF PEACE AND STORIES
Hikers spend a few days walking the entire trail, which starts in Bohinjska Bistrica, continues to Ukanc, the Krn mountain range and the Tolminka valley. The trail is not only surrounded by the magnificent beauty of nature, the Julian Alps and the Triglav National Park, it also includes exceptional stories about human ingenuity, persistence and the personal destinies of soldiers, captives and locals. This themed trail is a unique natural and cultural and as well historical monument.
The view that reaches 100 years back along this trail, displays exceptional scenes of human endeavour. Enormous quantities of military supplies, weapons and equipment came to Bohinj. Soldiers, wounded soldiers and captives came to the valley from both sides. Bohinj became a vast logistics centre with storage areas, hospitals, barracks, cemeteries … Even civilians were included in military activities and the needs of battlefield supply – the lives of all Bohinj people changed significantly
Even in the old days, the people of Bohinj cared about sustainable mobility.
The Arrival of the Railway
“The new Alpine railway broadened horizons to the outside world in many ways – exposing numerous secret natural beauties, real local gems that were previously unknown, as Bohinj was so far away from the rest of the world and often a place hard to get to. Without a doubt, the real gem of all natural beauties is the magnificent Bohinj, a town surrounded by impressive mountain peaks hiding the mysterious fairytale. Nevertheless, the iron steam horse connecting nearby regions was on its own mission – it dug through mountain walls, moved around the riverbeds of torrents and precipices and blazed its trail into the fairyland of the Slovenian Switzerland,”
Wochein, an illustrated touristic leaflet, 1907, page 1
The heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand of Austria attended the grand opening of the Jesenice-Trieste railway on June 19, 1906. Four days later the route was serviced by four passenger trains per day in both directions, marking the start of a regular traffic connection. The construction of the Bohinj railway (Jesenice-Trieste section) in 1906 can easily be described as the big breakthrough for the development of tourism in Bohinj. Bohinj became more accessible and therefore more interesting for tourists, but this also paved the way for the development of tourism activities in Bohinj. It simply cannot be a coincidence that the next year the Tourism Association of Bohinj was established which in many ways represents the start of organised tourism in Bohinj.
New Possibilities, New Offer and New Ideas
In winter of 1909–1910, the state railway directorate of Trieste organised special Sunday and holiday trips from Trieste. Tickets were sold at a bargain price. There were often more than 1000 Trieste residents on that train. One saw the arrival of local carriage rides (called fijakarji). Upon the request of the Provincial Association, the district authority of the town of Radovljica requested that carriages ought to be registered and a fee for carriage rides ought to be implemented.
The first omnibus (the then name for a bus) with capacity for 10 passengers was on a regular route to Bohinj after the construction of the tunnel. In the summer of 1911, an agreement was reached with the Public Works Ministry to organise rides with omnibuses to Lake Bohinj. For a rather different and a neater experience from Ribčev Laz to Ukanc one could embark on the Bogomila boat round trip that took passengers from the St John the Baptist Church to Ukanc.
A Train Ride to Mt Triglav
Soon after the opening of the route, in the initial phases of enthusiasm, the idea arose to build a train connection to Mt Triglav. In 1907 Fritz Steiner, PhD in Engineering, and the engineer M. Klodič (his alias was Mountaineer) together produced a plan in two versions. In both cases, the starting point was the railway station in Bohinjska Bistrica. According to one version, a road was to be redirected north of the Sava river on the ex-narrow-gauge railway route behind the St John the Baptist Church via Uskovnica to Velo polje. At first, a cableway was to be constructed to the top of Mt Triglav.
According to the other version, a narrow-gauge adhesive route from Bohinjska Bistrica railway station to the Voje valley was planned. From there a rack railway via Velo polje and Kredarica near the top of Mt Triglav was to be constructed. Rack railways were then already built in other Alpine countries. The railway section between Kredarica and Mt Triglav peak was to be built mostly underground. In July 1907, the ministry for railway infrastructure awarded Steiner a concession to start activities related with technical preparatory work. Luckily, the project never reached its daylight, as there was probably no money for it.
Bohinjska Bistrica-Ukanc (Zlatorog) Narrow Guage Military Railway
In spring and summer of 1915, long queues of horse-drawn wagons were on their way from Bohinjska Bistrica to Zlatorog and Ukanc. The horse-drawn wagons were only an interim solution – although many were employed and many horses were drawn, the effect was simply too small.
This was the reason for the start of the construction of the Bohinjska Bistrica-Ukanc military horse-drawn tram (Pferdefeldbahn) on October 6, 1915. The narrow-gauge railway was built in 1915 by the Austro-Hungarian army (8th railway division from the railway regiment). The tracks were put down on the southern rim of the existing road. It was 13km long, 60cm wide with a 6% incline. All the tracks together with 5 emergency stops were 15.7km long. The capacity of the track was 200t daily. The transporting activity started late in the autumn of 1915.
In 1917, in the fourth year of the ongoing war, there was an extreme lack of horses and horse feed. The Command decided to electrify the rails. A new electric power plant was built in the vicinity of Savica. Power lines with aluminium wires were installed from the electric power plant to the railway station in Bohinjska Bistrica. The electrification of the military railway was an ongoing project from April 30 until July 27, 1917. A total of 5 trains, 2 of them were postal trains, ran daily to Ukanc (Zlatorog) and back. A one-way ride lasted 2 hours. The Austro-Hungarian military managed the railway until November 4, 1918.
Tourists were transported by the narrow-gauge railway another two years after the war, but then, in 1920, it was torn down. The train wreckage of the ex-railway connection to Ukanc is still at the bottom of Lake Bohinj covered in silt, where a derailed military freight train ended up in 1917.
Source: The book of BOHINJ: 1914–1918 between the front and the outskirts (by Tomaž Budkovič).
Early Development and Protection of Nature
Two years after the railway put Bohinj on the map in 1918, at the time of the national fight between Slovenes and Germans, Albin Belar, a Slovene scientist, naturalist and seismologist, suggested securing the valley of the Triglav lakes. This would have been the first secured area in today’s Europe. Even though the commission gave a sign of approval, the idea was never realised. But in 1924, when the Alpine Conservation Park was formed, a part of today’s Triglav National Park – the area around the vicinity of Mt Triglav and the valley of the Triglav lakes – was secured. In 1961 the park was renamed Triglav National Park and can be classified as one of the oldest parks in Europe.
Transport Back in the Day and Today
Today, one can take a bus from Bohinj to Lesce in less than 40 minutes. The ride would have been considerably longer almost sixty years ago. The omnibus departed from Bohinjska Bistrica at 5:45 am and reached its destination – Lesce railway station – at 8:30 am. The cost of the ride with no luggage was 2 crowns. The distance from Bohinjska Bistrica to Zlatorog was also rather long for an omnibus that set off from Bohinjska Bistrica, for example, at 2:10 pm and arrived at Zlatorog at 3:40 pm.
Every generation has its own knowledge. Some might even inherit that knowledge if they are lucky. But we must acquire most of our “wisdom” during our lifetime. Some were born with the capacity to know plants and herbs, and as much as we can “envy” them, we can be grateful to all who have created the International Wild Flower Festival for the twelfth year in a row.
BOHINJ IS A PERFECT CRADLE FOR THE BIRTH OF FLOWER FESTIVAL
We are lucky in Bohinj that we can join botanical connoisseurs or completely ignorant laymen, but we all share the same enthusiasm about the immense diversity of the flora in Bohinj. Bohinj is in bloom all the time and everywhere. Roughly, we can limit this luxury to two thousand metres of altitude, to the Gorenjska and Primorska sides, to sunny and shady sides, to winter and spring that also walk hand in hand, just like forests, meadows and rocks. And botanists cannot run out of inspiration in such a diverse landscape and rainbow of climate conditions.
So, where else could we set such a festival, if not in Bohinj, and where could it find a better place in than European Alps than here? In the meantime, we can be connoisseurs or laymen in this paradise. And there is simply no one who could not learn anything new from the diverse programme of the festival. But, we have to keep our eyes and ears open all the time.
WHAT DO FLOWERS HAVE IN COMMON WITH FOUR BRAVE MEN?
And we all know the story about the four brave men now. This year, we will meet this story in various forms. But this one is quite special and colourful.
What connects the four brave men with four Triglav flowers – besides the obvious number, of course? And actually, this number is misleading. The botanist Hacquet almost climbed up there before our men from Bohinj. But with so much blossoming beauty and at least four men of steel, the numbers are unnecessary. Let us say that there are at least four Triglav flowers. Perhaps we can find them.
PANTHEON OF BOHINJ FLOWERS
Triglav is most certainly among those highest national peaks that carry their name in many flowers. The Triglav rose is one of them, along with Triglav hawksbeard, Triglav king-of-theAlps and Triglav gentian. And we should not forget about other wonderful flowers that are endemic or simply so exceptional and unique that they carry a unique Bohinj name. And another such flower is the Iris of Bohinj (Iris pallida cengialti vochinensis), which in Slovene carries the name “perunika” – a god’s name.
Perun is just like our Triglav – the greatest among the gods, and if we interpret mythology according to our own desires, Perun is the one that causes rain and we all know that there is quite a lot of rain in Bohinj. Iris can be linked as a Greek goddess to the rainbow and the wellknown fact that the Iris of Bohinj was named by Alfonzo Paulin who was cleverly perceptive, does not surprise us. If the French knew our iris, they would try to take over Bohinj in the name of the French crown, because the iris is the heraldic lily worshipped by the French in their coat-of-arms.
BREATHTAKING DIVERSITY AND ZOIS LEGACY
The industrialist Zois supported the research and discovery of the Triglav mountains in Bohinj. He financed numerous expeditions to the mountains and also the four brave men who were the first to climb Triglav. He also supported Hacquet’s expeditions, the attempts to conquer Triglav, and research of the natural sciences.
Zois’ bellflower is named after Karl, Žiga’s brother, who loved the mountains and flora in Bohinj, and he did not leave behind his indescribable love for this area to the same extent as he had experienced it. We can admire his heritage in probably the first botanical garden in Slovenia – at Brdo Castle near Kranj, and in the exquisite herbarium with more than two thousand plants. Another plant – Zois’ violet is also named after him, but this is no longer a story from Bohinj.
And there were another two men who carried the name of Bohinj and its natural richness to the world. Hawksbeard Racquet and Valentino Večosni. Important names for important achievements.
BOTANICAL GARDENS OF BOHINJ
See the botanical richness of Bohinj during the International Wild Flower Festival in the natural botanical gardens of Črna prst, Gorenjska and all the pastures of Bohinj. Experience this luxury just like all the Lois’ and Racquets. The alpine gardens are completely intimate among the blossoming meadows and can offer you a complete botanical experience. So, pluck up your courage and join many of the unforgettable experiences during the festival and enjoy the floral richness of Bohinj.
In the year of 2018, Bohinj will commemorate a rather special anniversary of the ascent to Triglav – an act people of Bohinj are very proud of.
In 1777, one year prior to the first ascenders, Balthasar Hacquet, a renowned scientist vigorously examining minerals and botany but also a determined mountaineer, attempted to reach the first recorded ascent. He ascended Mali Triglav via mountain pastures Konjščica and Velo polje. This route is since known as the Bohinj ascent.
Next year 4 brave men from Bohinj were the first to climb Triglav. These were the surgeon Lovrenz Willomitzer from Stara Fužina, the miner Luka Korošec from Gorjuše, the chamois hunter Matevž Kos from Jereka and, last but not least, Štefan Rožič from Savica.
The ascent took three days and on 26 August 1778, the four brave men reached its peak via Zeleni plaz. Upon descending, they were setting up stone marks and thus recorded the path leading to Triglav.
Slovenes were then formally recognized as one of the Alpine nations, mountaineers and enthusiasts, who have with scientific expeditions and caution, planning and enthusiasm reached about everything that was reachable with the then equipment. Amongst the biggest mythological peaks in the Alps, Triglav was ascended 8 years before Mont Blanc, 22 before Grossglockner and 87 before Matterhorn. Other peaks may be higher than Triglav and the difference in years obscures the real achievement of getting to the top, but nevertheless, Slovenes have climbed all that we could – amongst the first. Our determination to reach the peaks, as the 4 brave men carry the mountain tradition in all of us, was long ago proven by generations of our mountaineers and climbers on all world continents, as we were the first to climb new routes and ascend to the top of the then unreachable peaks.
Slovenes can be categorized as one of the biggest Alpine nations and both our place and home is here – in the Julian Alps, the Karavanke, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, on the Pohorje, Gorjanci, Nanos, Slavnik and Snežnik mountains. This is a well-known fact embodied in every single Slovene wanting to reach one’s peak. However, Bohinj represents the cradle of Slovene mountaineering.
Not many regions in the Alps can boast a more diverse flora than the area of Bohinj! This relatively small area is characterised by severalaltitudinal belts up to the highest peaks reaching far above the forest line. Vast forests, fields, mountain meadowsand various wetlands – from the shore of Lake Bohinj to the high moors … all this gives an attentive nature lover a chance to experience unforgettable beauties and discoveries.
The richness of flora also invites butterflies and bees. Bohinj and its surrounding areas are a wonderful place for watching butterflies flying from blossom to blossom and for the apiculture, which has a long tradition here.
Numerous plants owe their existence and survival to people. The thousand-year lasting cohabitation of human and nature has formed the landscape in the Julian Alps and also a living space for many plants.
Without the diligent work of the local people the fields would be overgrown by forest, which would higher in the mountains turn into mountain pines and rocks – all the beautiful floral richness of meadows from the valley up to the mountains would be lost.
Based on the native breed of cattle – the so called “cika”, the cattle breeding required a respectful and well considered use of what the nature provides. Due to a wet climate elaborate constructions had to be built – hayracks to dry hay and wooden hay barns to preserve the hay through the winter. The herdsmen on the high-pastures were dwelling in herdsmen huts in the mountains.
All this gave the landscape around Bohinj a special character – a precious cultural landscape of immense beauty was formed, which the local people are justly proud of.
For the preservation of the rich flora of Bohinj and the Alps in general, it is crucial to preserve the cultural landscape with extensive cattle breeding – with traditional ways of harvesting hay.
The International Wild Flower Festival is also intended for the search of a way for a harmony of human and nature in the future – so that even our children will be able to admire the enchanting blooming fields.
ABOUT TRIGLAV NATIONAL PARK
The Triglav National Park (TNP) is the only Slovenian national park. The park was named after Triglav, the highest mountain in the heart of the park, which is also the highest summit in Slovenia (2864 m). The origin of the name Triglav is rather uncertain. Triglav (“three-headed”) owes its name to its characteristic shape as seen from the south-east side or to the highest Slavic deity who was supposed to have its throne on the top of the mountain. The mountain is a true national symbol and is featured on the national coat of arms and the flag.
The Triglav National Park extends along the Italian border and close to the Austrian border in the north-west of Slovenia, that is, in the south-eastern section of the Alps. Its territory is nearly identical with that occupied by the Eastern Julian Alps. The park covers 880 square kilometres, or 3 % of the territory of Slovenia. The Triglav National Park is among the earliest European parks; the first protection dates back to 1924 when the Alpine Conservation Park was founded. The principal task of the Triglav National Park Public Institution is the protection of the park, but it also carries out specialist and research tasks.
Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy. It is an EUwide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive.
The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which they designate under the 1979 Birds Directive.
Loud shouting and the sound of the accordion can be heard on St Stephen’s Day in Stara Fužina and Studor, and then, on New Year’s Eve, the local people in the Upper Bohinj Valley, i.e. in Srednja vas, Češnjica and Jereka, once again welcome the new year masks or otepovci.
They remind us of carnival masks due to their fur coats, or even of the famous kurenti, laufarji and škoromati (traditional masks in Slovenia). Otepovci come to wish people happiness, joy, fruitfulness and health in the coming year. The masks are also not very scary, like some of the other masks intended to scare off the winter are, but they are more or less funny.
Young men used to put on these masks to have some fun before joining the army, and their arrival at the houses of local people was usually rewarded. This ritual is slightly different today because young men are not obliged to join the army anymore. The group of masked men normally includes the so-called “baba” (woman) and “voča” (man, father), “fehtar” (beggar) who collects the money, and “metlar” (broom-maker) who uses a broom to clean the house of bad things and play with children. Depending on the size of the group, the characters include “mat” (mother), “ta mlada dva” (the young two), hunter, chimney sweep and new year.
The only person who doesn’t wear a mask is the accordion player because all the masks like to dance in the houses. Their arrival is usually very loud and this noise resounds around the village so that the children can hardly wait for the masks to come. The house owners welcome them and offer them their best sausage and brandy. If owners do not let them in the house, they usually play some jokes on them.
In the past, one farmer did not let otepovci enter the house, and he had to later dismantle his carriage that had been put on the roof so that he could get it to the ground. Otepanje is a fun holiday custom, which proves the humour of locals and the connection among local communities. In the past, otepovci used some masks to make quite a lot of fun out of certain people or characters that were not very popular
among the locals. This custom is quite popular in the Upper Bohinj Valley villages and is also very interesting for tourists and visitors.
This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bohinj Trail that offers 36 alpine points and comprises 8 mountains higher than 2000 metres. Every year, all persistent mountaineers who have collected stamps from all the described peaks are awarded.
HIKING IN BOHINJ
Bohinj has always been the best starting point for exploring the world below Mt Triglav, hence the mountain itself was first climbed by four men from Bohinj, who were brave enough to reach its peak.
And it could not be any different. The pastures in Bohinj are connected by various trails (more than 300 km of marked trails). In summer, farmers drive animals to the pastures where the farmers make cheese. In the past, people used to search and dig for iron ore on various pastures. The trails and paths are well spread also due to grazing and iron ore.
Many of them can be walked when motivated by good will and appropriate shoes, others however, present a special challenge. Not everyone has to climb Mt Triglav, since a walk along the lake can be a true experience of colours and light, magnificent views and idyllic corners in an oasis of unspoiled nature.
RESPECT THE MOUNTAINS
Dear hikers, do approach the mountains with respect and get well prepared – PLEASE do get enough information about the routes – elevation, distances, shelter options, also consider the weather and prepare accordingly – if not self-confident in your trekking experiences, get a professional guide. Do not underestimate the mountains and do not leave the marked trails – it can backfire in so many ways.
We hope we do not have to stress specifically, that alcohol and drugs do not belong on the hiking trails and that you should not destroy mountain flora and other vegetation or disturb the animals and other hikers. And please, take your litter back to the valley.
The traces of WWI are still visible in Bohinj. After Italy entered the war, Bohinj became an important supply hinterland for the northern part of the Isonzo Front. It was connected with the railway and extended outside the battlefield hinterland so that it was out of reach of canons.
Today, the Bohinj theme trail is a part of the Peace Trail along the remains of the Isonzo Front. Hikers can spend a few days walking the entire trail, which starts in Bohinjska Bistrica, continues to Ukanc, the Krn mountain range and the Tolminka valley.
The trail is not only surrounded by the magnificent beauty of nature, the Julian Alps and the Triglav National Park, it also entails exceptional stories about human ingenuity, persistence and the personal destinies of soldiers, captives and locals.
EXHIBITIONS IN TOMAŽ GODEC MUSEUM
Location: Bohinjska Bistrica
Bohinj in Bohinjci (1914-1918) – more than 500 authentic museum items of Isonzo front and supply hinterland are displayed at the exhibition
The heroes from Gorenjska and their medals received for their actions during WWI
Mountaineering in Slovenia has a very interesting and rich history. It begins its classical era of mountaineering, which is marked by the conquering of the most important peaks of Europe, with Mt. Triglav, more specifically with the Bohinj side of Mt. Triglav.
THE FIRST ASCENT TO MT. TRIGLAV – AN ORIGINAL, INDEPENDENT, AND PIONEERING EXPLORATION
Mt. Triglav is an important mountain both for Europe and the whole world. It is a mighty landmark on the South-Eastern part of the Alps, extraordinary both in form and in its cultural and historical meaning.
Its peak was conquered for the first time on August 26, 1778, which is 8 years before Mont Blanc, 22 years before Mt. Grossglockner, 87 years before Mt. Matterhorn, 79 years before the formation of the first mountaineering organisation in the world (England), and 94 years before the formation of the first mountaineering association in Slovenia, the Triglav Friends in Bohinj. This means that the first ascent was not in imitation or competition with others. It was an original, independent and pioneering exploration.
The honour to be the first conquerors of Mt. Triglav goes to the Bohinj men (Luka Korošec, a farmer and miner from Koprivnik, Matevž Kos, a miner from Jereka, Štefan Rožič, a hunter from Savica, and Lovrenc Willomitzer, a healer from Stara Fužina).
FIRST TRAILS THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE ZOIS’ CIRCLE
After Jože Škantar – Šest built the cabin on Prodi, he also set up the first trail to Triglav, which was secured in 1895, when the Triglav priest Aljaž had the Aljaž Tower built on top of Mt. Triglav. That was when the trail from Kredarica to Triglav got a form, which was very similar to the one of today. 34 iron wedges were placed, along with 130 metres of steel cable.
The first trails through the mountains had an economic purpose (mining, farming, hunting), and were used solely by the locals. Only the enlightenment, along with Baron Žiga Zois and the naturalist Baltazar Hacquet, both of which hold credit for pioneering exploration of the Slovenian Alps, meant the start of mountaineering. Baron Zois paid for the expenses of creation of the first highland trails above Velo Polje and the Triglav Lakes Valley. The Zois’ Circle, the predecessor of Slovenian mountaineering associations, gave these trails their first markings.
FRIENDS OF TRIGLAV SOCIETY
In 1872, there was an attempt in Bohinj to form the Friends of Triglav Society, the first mountaineering organisation in Slovenia. They had everything a mountaineering society requires: a name, a president – Ivan Žan, its own (also the first) mountain cabin under Triglav (“Triglavski Tempelj”) which was built in 1872 by Jože Škantar – Šest from Srednja Vas) and their own trail to Triglav. But because they did not get the approval for the society’s regulations (the politically most powerful nation of the multi-national Austrian state had nothing to gain from it), the formation failed. Only in 1931, the Bohinj branch of the Slovenian Mountaineering Association was formed with its headquarters in Srednja Vas.
Alpine dairy farming, which began in the 13th century, and the related cheese-making was the foundation of Bohinj farming throughout history. Few fertile areas, long winters and short summers were the reason, why locals mostly focused on raising cattle (cows, goats, horses, sheep). Milk and dairy products were the basis for staple food for a long time.
BOHINJ PEOPLE DEVELOPED ALPINE DAIRY FARMING TO PERFECTION
Data indicate that, in the past, approximately forty Alpine dairy farming settlements were active. They were divided into hay plateaus, middle, and high plateaus. In spring, shepherds began to graze their animals on hay plateaus, which were the lowest. Then they herded them to middle and high plateaus, and in autumn, they did the reverse towards the valley. Because of the high level of dependence of the agrarian economy on Alpine dairy farming, individual shepherding remained the preferred form in Bohinj up until the second half of the 20th century.
This meant that every master had his own stable and Alpine shepherd on the plateau. The shepherds lived a very simple life on the plateaus. Their homesteads differed. The ones on lower plateaus were made of both stone and wood, and had a separate barn. On higher plateaus, the homesteads were made exclusively of wood, covered with shingles, and resting on supports called “mares”. They had an open fireplace, a storeroom, and a modest bed.
CHEESE-MAKING AND TRADE
Until the middle of the 19th century, cheese-making was organised in a way, where every shepherd would process milk into dairy products on the plateau itself. First it was butter, later also quark and cheese. These were not only for use by the Bohinj people but also for trade. They sold butter to Trieste in exchange for wine and salt. They did not only trade in butter, but also in cattle and wood products. Among various dairy products produced on the plateaus, a speciality was the Mohant cheese. This very piquant cheese is still considered a speciality in Bohinj today.
HOW CHEESE-MAKERS’ COOPERATIVES CAUSED PROGRESS IN BOHINJ ALPINE DAIRY FARMING
The turning point of Bohinj Alpine dairy farming and cheese-making were the ‘60s and ‘70s of the 19th century. The credit for the major progress of the time goes to the priest of Bohinjska Bistrica, Janez Krstnik Mesar. He gave the initiative for the creation of cheese-makers’ cooperatives. So in 1873, the first Bohinj cheese-makers’ cooperative came into existence, which was the first of its kind in all of Carniola.
The arrival of the Swiss cheese-maker Tomas Hitz, who often visited Bohinj and helped with advice, brought about a kind of cheese, which is similar to the Swiss Emmental cheese – the Bohinj Cheese. Positive development continued in the first half of the 20th century, despite the catastrophic two world wars. Even during both wars, the best cheese-makers were sent to be educated in Switzerland. After World War II, the plateaus were nationalized. The Bohinj people nevertheless eagerly started to rebuild the cheese-making settlements.
Despite this, cheese-making was slowly in decline. The number of Alpine dairy farmers diminished year by year. Today, only a few are still alive. One of the solutions that could revive them is tourism.
HINTS AND USEFUL LINKS
you can learn more about the cheese-making and alpine dairy farming traditions on the Tourist Cheese-Makers Trail
we recommend you take a guided hike to Bohinj plateaus