No? It’s a beautiful place. When my friend Elaine and I were traveling from Zagreb to Pula, we decided to take the highway that crossed southern Slovenia, more or less to put another stamp on our passport. I’m so glad we did. Although we saw only a tiny part of this beautiful country, with rolling green hills that were dotted with picturesque towns with red-tiled roofs, we fell in love. Driving along the freeway, we stopped, pretty much at random, in the small town of Brežice, because we could see a castle sticking up over the hilltops.
First we had to stop for coffee, but afterwards strolled down the main street towards the Brežice Castle. Like much of Slovenia, Celtic graves dating from pre-Roman times have been found. The castle was built in the late Middle Ages by the Hapsburgs primarily as a defense against raids by the Ottoman Empire as well as local peasant uprisings. The site is now a museum. Interpretive guides were available in English, which allowed us to study the artifacts (mostly post-1700s) as well as the beautiful decorative work of the chapel. Afterwards, we met a couple from Oregon who were biking through the area, which allowed us to compare notes about how trips.
Afterwards, we drove south towards the Croatian border, across the mountains on a minor country road. We got to the border crossing, a uniformed man in a small booth, with a cross arm, who turned us back. No crossings allowed here! It gave us another chance to see some beautiful countryside, so it all turned out well. The people here are highly literate, well-educated, and their culture, music, literature, dance, art, are very important.
Slovenia is trying to develop its tourism. The small country, with barely 2 million citizens, has some of the largest forested areas in Europe. The country has beautiful coastlines, a highly developed economy, and a peaceful, secularized populace. For people who are looking for a relaxed vacation (with some strong Italian influence) instead of bustling around big cities, this might just be your place.
Twitter Version Pre-WWII Century History of Slovenia
Evidence of human settlement in Slovenia has been dated as far back as 250,000 years. Celtic graves from 300 BCE and Roman sites from the 2nd century BCE indicated continuous habitation since that time. Slovenia was never an independent nation, but has been part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Venetian Empire, and centuries under the Hapsburgs as part of the Austro-Hungary Empire up until the end of World War I. Tens of thousands of ethnic Slovenians were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army at that time. Slovenia was Christian in the 9th century, and was heavily influenced by Lutheranism in the 16th.
At the end of WWI, a Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs was formed, but overturned in 1929 to become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The area suffered under WWII, being partitioned between Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Hungary. Hitler’s goal was to eliminate the Slovenes – thousands were sent to work camps and their property turned over to ethnic Germans. However, Hitler also had about 46,000 ethnic Germans (“Gottschneer”) sent to Saxony because he did not want them living in the Italian-ruled portion. They mostly considered themselves Slovenian and did not always go willingly; however, the ethnic Germans who accepted the confiscated land were later hounded out of Yugoslavia.
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- 5 Photos: Slovenia (justgoplacesdotme1.wordpress.com)