A journey through Slovenia in the time of its national awakening.
The scenic veduta of Ptuj as seen from the chapel of Saint Roch is a perfect background for a quick break in the shadow.
During the Middle Ages, the Ptuj Castle was the regional seat of the Archdiocese of Salzburg, home of the Lords of Ptuj and an important defensive point against Hungarian invasions.
The abandoned ruins of the Ojstrica Castle might be a good place to weather the ominous storm. Centuries ago, it was home to the ruthless count Feliks Šratenbah, who finally had to escape the rebelling peasants in a barrel. Count Frederick II. of Celje and his famous wife Veronika of Desenice were allegedly imprisoned here, after Frederick's father Hermann II. accused her of witchcraft. Despite being acquitted by the court in the first recorded witch-hunt in Slovenia, Hermann ordered his soldiers to murder Veronika by drowning her in a bathtub.
You don't believe in ghosts, right?
The name of the settlement Zidani Most literally translates as "stone bridge". The first one was built by the ancient Romans around 290 AD. It was later destroyed and in 1224 a new bridge was constructed - this one lasted for about two centuries before being demolished once again during the disputes between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Counts of Celje.
The railway bridge pictured above was constructed in 1849 during the construction of the Southern railway.
As the capital of Venetian Istria, Koper's name was changed to Caput Histriae - 'Head of Istria' - from which the modern Italian name Capodistria originates. The view of the city today might be quite different, but it is still a great place to embark on a short sailing trip along the Slovenian coast. Some things never change.
15th-century Kacenštajn Castle at the heart of Begunje has a long and - particularly in the 20th century - also a bloody history. It was used as a women's prison, served as the headquarters of Nazi Gestapo, where more than 10,000 hostages were held, many of them killed. Begunje later hosted a labor camp for political prisoners in the socialist Yugoslavia. There are several mass graves from after the Second war around the village. Today, it is better known by the Elan skiing factory and as the birthplace of one of Slovenia's most famous and beloved musicians, Slavko Avsenik.
The high peak in the background is the mythical Mount Triglav (2864m), the highest mountain in Slovenia.
We briefly return to Ljubljana before heading back South for the last part of our journey around Slovenia. At the end of the 19th century, the capital of Carniola had about 25.000 inhabitants and was a much smaller city than it is today.
This detailed view shows the Congress Square from Ljubljana's castle with Tivoli Park and the church on nearby Rožnik in the background.
The symbol of Višnja Gora is a snail on a golden chain. As one version of the legend goes, Sofija, the daughter of the Count of Višnja gora, stumbled upon the wounded son of the Venetian Doge. She took care of him until he finally recovered and revealed his identity. Among the treasures, sent to the Count by the knight's thankful mother, was a golden snail shell with diamonds. It was kept in the City Hall until ending up lost - in time and stories.
Just a few more steps and our journey will come to an end. But first, a short stop to recuperate our strength. The Dolenjske Toplice spa was property of the Auersperg Counts, who built the first indoor pool in the 16th century and turned a simple local swimming ground into a prestigious thermal center.
And finally, Krško - the last destination on our itinerary. It was a short, but beautiful journey, made possible by the brilliant, traveling artists such as Wagner, Kuwaseg, Sandmann and others. Their vedutas not only offer a glimpse of the 19th century Slovenia, a country in the process of its national awakening - they capture a romantic vision of a time just before the technological and industrial development started to leave its irreversible mark.
Vedutas by: Joseph Wagner, Joseph Kuwaseg, Franz Xaver Sandmann, Giovanni Varoni, Gottfries Seelos, A. Tischbein, Johann Nepomuk Passinni.
Selection by Primož Premzl and Renata Šolar
Exhibition: Žiga Cerkvenik
Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, 2017