Culture & Museums
Slovenia has a long, remarkable and proud history, largely influenced by its central location as a gateway between the Alps and Rome. There are lots and lots of museums here in all shapes, types and sizes and we can only recommend that you pop in and visit a few during your daytrips out. You will be surprised how different, special and interesting they are.
Most museums can be viewed and enjoyed in an hour or even less so you can do lots of other things with your day and maybe use some of the information or experiences you get at the museum to better understand and enjoy the rest of your day.
Armies have been marching through Slovenia since before Roman times and there are several very different military museums to recommend, displaying history from centuries of conflict between the continental empires. There is even a prehistoric Celtic settlement overlooking Landol, from our neighbouring village of St Michael (10 mins) and it is well worth a walk up from the Lodge to explore this site and see the incredible view of the whole Postojna valley.
There is a large Tank museum at Pivka (15 mins) with lots of tanks, other military vehicles and a huge submarine, great for kids. If you wanted to learn something about the 1991 ten day Slovenian War of Independence, then this is the very best place in Slovenia to find out more. You should go visit the award winning Kobarid museum (90 mins) on the way to the gorges and waterfalls. Here you can find out about the largest mountain battle in human history, involving over 1 million soldiers during WW1, where the beautiful Soca river ran tragically red.
On the way to see the Lipizzaner horses at Lipica you could stop off in the lovely little village of Lokev (20 mins) for a choice of 3 restaurants and yet another military museum inside a tower with an anti aircraft gun outside. And we have heard good things about the Museum of Torture in Ribnica (40 mins) on the way to one of our favourites Cucumber castle and if that isn't painful enough for you, then just across the road is a museum of knives and forks and wooden houseware goods, which are still made locally. The first museum is in absolutely beautiful surroundings inside a long castle wall with river.. very nice indeed.
There is a Roman fortress with the remains of a massive defensive wall, just 15 mins drive from the Lodge up in the surrounding forest. You could also take a bike and cycle an hour direct up through the forest to see these remains, which guard the otherwise impassable ancient road from Ljubljana to Rome. There is also a lovely small museum there with lots of info about Roman times in Slovenia and a great pub next door!
But we have also found many other museums that give fantastic detail about all aspects of Slovenian life and history. They are sure to surprise you with their quality, content and excellent value for money. You can walk around so many historical sites for free as well and feel the history all around you in the trenches of the first world war or seeing caves scratched out by the soldiers for protection.
A MUST SEE museum is the Secret Wartime Hospital museum near Cerkno, (75 mins). it's amazing, mixing the power and mystery of nature with the determination and bravery of people in a stunning mountain location. This is a place where you take a walk in the countryside and learn a story from history with every footstep. This is the place that the brave doctors and soldiers kept hidden from the Nazis and saved hundreds of lives. It will take your breathe away.
You can find all about Europe's biggest disappearing lake at the Museum of the Disappearing Lake near Cerknica (25 mins) and there is another Museum of the 17 Disappearing Lakes of Pivka even nearer, (15 mins) which explains the magic and connectivity of the lakes and has some great exhibits for kids showing different types of trees and animal prints from the local forests.
There are 2 museums in Idrija (50 mins), one where you put on a helmet and protective clothing and be accompanied by an ex miner down the second largest ever Mercury mine in the world, it's great! There is another museum in a large castle overlooking the same town with a huge collection of geological rocks and the history of the world class local lace industry.
There are small museums and galleries with different and sometimes wacky exhibits located all over Slovenia. We have been to the most western village on Slovenia called "Blackberry", (70 mins), where one house has been converted into a museum with old photos of all the village residents over the centuries, with a seperate photo outside each house, (most are now abandoned), to show where that person lived and what they did for a living. So the whole village is like a living museum, it's utterly fascinating!
There is a wonderful Technical museum at Bistra (35 mins), which we call the Museum of 7 Museums and you can spend hours here. You will find out about many aspects of Slovenian life and also see all of ex president Tito's old vintage cars and bullet proof limousines. Dont be put off by the word "technical", maybe they should say "treasure" instead. All this stuff in a country estate setting with beautiful gardens and fast flowing, crystal clear river.
Slovenia's biggest gallery is in a huge converted monastery in a really stunning location near the bottle green river of Krka and one of our favourite islands, Chesntnut, (80 mins). The museum is stuffed full of art and paintings, modern & old and in the large grounds you will find dozens of wooden sculptures added to every year with a new art festival. If you add the nearby monks vineyards and breweries, the stunning island town with the bridge over the river, then you will have a really great and different day out in Chestnut.
You will find a great collection of Roman stuff and the oldest musical instrument in the world at the majestic National Museum in Ljubljana (30 mins) and other sites scattered over the capital city. Most castles will have something of interest for old and young and there is a fabulously wacky exhibition at Velenje castle, (110 mins) perched high up on the hill overlooking the valley. Here you will see displays about the workings of socialism, the history of the valley, a pub from the turn of the century and of course, a massive collection of African Pigmy masks! Oh yes, only in Slovenia!