Kamnik, Jewel of the Alps, Veronica’s Homeland and Two Castles

Friday June 6,  2014  TASTE OF SLOVENIA FOOD TOUR Kamnik, Kamniksa Bistrica, Velika Planina,  

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

 Kamnik is situated  northeast of Ljubljana, in an area where the Kamniška Bistrica and the Nevljica rivers meet, beneath the southern hillsides of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.  So beneficial is the climate, and so calming the scenery, that the area was considered a sacred and healing place. 

In 1876, Alojzij Prašnikar opened a climatic spa here, using the Kneipp method of healing.  That tradition is carried on today, not far from Kamnik at Terme Snovik, the only alpine thermal spa and the first Eco spa in Slovenia.

Kamnik  is home to two medieval castles, both in the same town: Stari grad and Mali grad.  The view from Stari grad (Old Castle), dated to the 13th century, offers a beautiful panorama of the entire Ljubljana basin and its surroundings. It can be reached on foot from the base in about 20 minutes.

Mali Grad

Mali Grad

Mali grad  (Little Castle), even older than the Stari Grad,  is one of the main attractions of Kamnik. Legend says that the bewitched countess Veronika, half girl and half snake, guards a hidden treasure in the vicinity of Mali Grad Castle.  Her presence is still

Veronic on Coat of Arms

Veronic on Coat of Arms

remembered because she appears on the town coat of arms and the license plate of every car registered here. At the Cafe Veronika you can enjoy a wonderful cuppa and enjoy the local scenery.

Kamnik is an ancient town  first mentioned in the 11th century situated near a former important trading route along the main trading road between Hungary and Trieste, Italy.  The medieval town of Kamnik was heavily fortified with town walls,  towers and four town gates. Some medieval buildings can be seen today.  Trade and crafts such as iron works, leather trade, pottery, fur trade, stone cutting, and architecture  contributed to the development of the town.  From the 14th century, Kamnik became the most influential town in the province besides Ljubljana.  Despite its tumultuous history:  the Turkish “menace,” the plague, an earthquake (the worst in 1511) and numerous fires, Kamnik continued to flourish and lives on today through its friendly people, its heritage, history and beautiful setting.

Every year, during the second weekend of June, Kamnik is the venue of the Medieval Days, featuring a set of cultural events, such as medieval games, fencing competitions, children’s workshops and the medieval marketplace.   The town is accessible by train.

Kamnik, with its surroundings, offers a rich selection of cultural, architectural and recreational experiences for the visitor.  The Renaissance-Baroque Mansion  Zaprice from the 16th Century, houses the Inter-Municipal Museum of Kamnik.  For those Plecnik fans, the Franciscan monastery,  built in 1492 next to the former Gothic church of St. Jakob,  is the site of the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the last works of the great architect JožePlečnik (+1957).   The Franciscan library contains a collection of books printed from movable type before 1500, an exemplar of Dalmatin’s translation of the Pentateuch (Moses’s five books of the Bible, 1578)) and over 10.000 volumes printed before 1799.

The valleys surrounding Kamnik are interspersed with numerous rural settlements, where  farms and farm structures such as granaries and “toplar” (double) hayracks dot the landscape. Hikers can enjoy many hiking routes around Kamnik. The valley of the

Toplarji

Toplarji

Kamniška Bistrica river is patterned with majestic scenery, including huge boulders, waterfalls  and gorges, which can be accessed by a special Tyrolean cableway.

The largest Slovenian arboretum, Volčji Potok, located  2 miles from Kamnik, is worth visiting in any season, especially in the spring, when over 2 million tulips bloom at the same time — one for each Slovenian.

Kamnik is the gateway to the mountain pastures of the Velika Planina, one of  the highest  mountain plateaus in Europe and the site of the best preserved herdsmen’s settlement in Europe.  The chapel of Marija Snežna (Our Lady of the Snows) was built  there in the earlier part of the 20th century through efforts of  the herdsmen, or “planšarji,” from Velika Planina. It is at its most magical during Christmas night, when the midnight mass is attended by crowds of hikers.

Plansar Herdsmen

Source:   The Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Newsletter March 1, 2013, 9(8), pg.5-6. http://bit.ly/XVXH3h ;  Slovenia. Lonely Planet, 2010, pp.106-110.

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About Sylvia P. Onusic, PhD, LDN, CNS

Licensed and board-certfied nutritionist, writer and researcher. BS in Home Economics, Foods and Nutrition Education;, MS in Health Administration; PhD in Public Health Education; completed the dietetic program at Penn State, University and the CNS Certified Nutrition Specialist program. Fulbrighter to Slovenia in Public Health. Speaker at Weston A. Price Foundation Conference and International Raw Milk Symposiums. Member of the American College of Nutrition. Creator and tour leader for "Taste of Slovenia, a Real Food Tour."
This entry was posted in Customs and Traditions, Itinerary, Taste of Slovenia Food Tour II, The Vibrant Slovenian Food Scene, traditional foods, Traveling to Slovenia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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