There are lots and lots of local legends in Slovenia, plenty enough for a film.. (watch this space)! It's fun to know about some of the stories as you go around exploring as they can sometimes help explain how some place got its name or why there is a statue of a DogFrog or a dragon smiling down at you!
The first legend concerns all of Slovenia and explains why this is the most fascinating, beautiful country in Europe.. Well, when the big man upstairs had finished creating the world and he had just a little bit of everything left and so he created Green Slovenia. You will see this for yourself when you arrive here.
The Legend of Jakob & the Dragon from the Postojna Cave
There are several local legends in our own area, probably the best known is the story of Jakob, the brave shepherd boy from St Michael, the village above Landol. Well he cleverly defeated the evil dragon from the nearby Postojna cave. The dragon had been terrorizing the locals, you couldn't even hang your washing as would swoop down and burn your shirts and underwear just for fun! This had been going on for some time until Jakob went to see the dragon and offered him a baby cow to eat and the dragon gobbled it up, but clever Jakob had put sneaky chemicals in the cow that would make the dragon very thirsty indeed. The dragon drank and drank and drank until he exploded into a thousand pieces!
Jakob was the hero and to this day the people of Postojna are nicknamed the "bag people".. can you think of a reason why? Well, it is said they made leather bags from the skin of the defeated dragon.. fact or fiction, you decide! You can see a statue of Jakob meeting the dragon just a 700 metre walk from Lipizzaner Lodge!
The Legend of the Snake on Nanos & the 3 Brother's Churches
The local mountain of Nanos is said to have a huge snake living up there and you can see it when it rains and there really are 3 churches on the local mountains here which form part of the 3 Brothers Legend, where arguing brothers were ordered by their angry dad to build separate churches in locations on the mountain where each brother could not see the other! You can still visit each church now, but you probably won't find the snake!
The Cheeky Knight of Predjama Castle
This is probably Slovenia's best known legend and you can walk to the amazing Predjama castle directly from the Lodge. This is the story of Baron Erazem, who really did live in our local Predjama castle in the 15th century. When you walk to the castle from Landol through the forest and pop out 70 metres under this amazing castle hanging out from a cliff, you will see full well how the cheeky baron was perfectly safe inside his walls and he often stood on his besieged balcony chucking food down at the Emperor's army to taunt them! The guy was real, but he was truly legendary!
The Legend of Martin Kirpan, Slovenia's own Robin Hood!
Nearby to the Lodge, we also have the oldest forests in Europe in a natural park that is pretty much completely unknown to visitors, despite being just 10 mins from one of Slovenia's biggest tourist attractions, the Postojna cave! The park is also almost completely unpronounceabubble.. Rakov Skocjan, oh yes, but it hides 2 huge natural stone arches created by the collapse of prehistoric caves and lots of water and an amazing stone bridge in a hidden area we call "Dragonfly Alley", (this is also an excellent place to go swimming). Well you will soon see how this stony green mini region could easily hide Slovenia's own Robin Hood, known as Martin Kirpan.
He was a big strong man who may well have smuggled salt and he was always out foxing the emperor's troops. Sometimes he would even carry his horse through the forest so as not to make any noise and get captured by patrols. One time he helped the emperor by defeating an Ottoman warrior in trialled combat.. the reward he asked for was a bag of salt! If you see any signs for walks, or cartoons here of a massive chap in green with a big hat and a huge axe, then you have found Martin Kirpan. What a guy!
Pretty much wherever else you go in Slovenia there will be a local legend to find out about and look carefully whenever you enter a new town or a mini region as every one has their own unique shield and if you look carefully you can see a different story, hero or legend on them!
The Giant of Ribnica
You would be well advised to stop off in Ribnica on the way to see Cucumber castle for example and visit the 2 museums there, one is about medieval torture and the other is all about wooden craftware, but check out the road sign and you will see the Giant who used to live by the lake just outside the town. Well, you wont find any lake as hard as you may look! the giant had a favourite fish in the lake that was, but the locals caught the fish and eat it and the Giant went bananas when he couldn't find his friend the fish and he banged his fists on the water so hard until the lake disappeared for ever!
Not too far from Ljubljana, direction Novo Mesto, you can drop off the main road to find the DogFrog statue and a mystery awaits you! We only found out half the solution! There was another village here, but it burnt down, (this was actually a common problem in the old days) and when the people from the next village rushed to help their neighbours they found them with ash blackened faces crawling and howling in the sizzling embers and this scared them as they thought they were wild dogs. OK so that is the top half of the statue explained and we asked many locals if they knew the reason for the frog's legs on the bottom half and we couldn't find anyone who knew! So this is another mystery for you to solve in Slovenia!
The Tragedy of the Lost Village of the 17 Disappearing Lakes
Just 15 mins from the Lodge you can find the first of the 17 connected Disappearing Lakes of Pivka. They are mysterious enough on their own, one day a lake is full and the next lake is empty, the next day the water has transferred. In the winter the lakes are full with roads that just lead into the water and in the summer they empty and if you didn't know where the caves and sink holes were, you might not even know that 17 lakes are hidden here!
Legend has it that one Christmas Eve an entire village was wiped out as they walked over the ice of one of these disappearing lakes on the way to the next village for church.. but the ice cracked and swallowed up the entire village. It's still possible to find the deserted village. There is also a wonderful little micro museum close to Pivka, (15 mins) which tells you all about these lakes, where they are and lots more about the local ecology. Splashtastic!
Peter and the Fairy
It's well worth taking a trip down to the south of Slovenia to the Kolpa river, which is Slovenia's warmest river and really excellent for swimming. This area is also a great day for younger kids as you can do a more gentle version of white water rafting here.
In fact the river is the border between Slovenia and Croatia, so you can actually swim over to Croatia for fun.. (you are not supposed to) On the way down to this hilly green mini region you might spot the large wooden statue of Peter, the local hero. He was a shepherd boy and was often teased for being weak, but one day his kindness changed his life for ever.. He spotted a beautiful fairy sleeping in the grass, but the sun was shining on her fair skin and Peter was worried that she would burn so he stood over her and provided shade.
When the fairy woke up she was overjoyed to see Peter standing there and she granting him incredible strength. Peter was never teased again and he used his new power to help local people. So next time you see a sleeping fairy, you know what to do!
There are so many more legends for you to learn about here. In fact you will feel the history all around you, everywhere you go, it's great exploring all of Europe in just one country!
When the Baby Dragons visited Ljubljana
When you are in Ljubljana you will see lots of dragons and it may well be that the locals were so scared that a mother dragon would be angry with them when they saw baby dragons floating down their beautiful river. Maybe they were inspired to build some stautues? In fact many years ago there was a huge flood and the "River of 7 Names" that pops up from under the ground an incredible 7 times and has seven different names on the way to Ljubljana transported some baby dragons (human fish for you adults) from the Postojna caves all the way to the capital. They caused quite a stir!
Sandwich Stealing Pixies
If you go down one of the amazing Slovenian tourist mines, whether it be ex coal, mercury or lead, then don't forget to look over your shoulder.. the miners sandwiches would often go missing down these mines and these cheeky little pixies were always to blame!
And don't bother reading this next bit cos you would never dream of visiting little old Slovenia in the winter.. are you still reading?!
About 40 days before Easter, just before Lent the whole of Slovenia is transformed into a frenzy of colour, performances, dancing wombles and witches. There are carnivals all over Slovenia and these are the very best places to find out about dozens more legends as witches leave their caves, frogs arrive from the disappearing lake and the odd dragon or two breathes fire on terrified small children.
Slovenia has a secret village with people who know absolutely everything.. indeed they know so much their heads are huge and they often appear at the carnival. There are several stories about these clever people, one involves them thinking they are fooling a thief into making their house bigger, but instead he steals their coats!