Change of Plan for the Secret WW2 Hospital..
We were shocked last year to see how easily the international News machine managed to portray the WHOLE of Green Slovenia as under water when those exceptional and devastating summer floods were only hitting central and eastern parts!
We had phonecalls and emails from worried past guests, future guests, friends & family from all over the world and were very humbled indeed by the concern, but quite miffed that the news can be so misleading, cos all we could explain to everyone was that it was absolutely fine & dandy here in the beautiful sunny south West!
Maybe the huge network of Karst caves, disappearing lakes, sinkholes and underground rivers around here in the sunny South West helped to wash all the water away, but all we can report is it was business as usual in Green Adventure Grand Central!
So instead of seeing images of cute Lipizzaners on the telly, prancing around in fields, Venetian Seaside towns splashed in colour, red roofed hill top villages surrounded by vineyards and enormous caves swallowing up people and making them look as small as ants, it seems the message going out to the world was that Green Slovenia was a no go zone, but this was only part of the truth..
Well, Slovenians are a resilient and resourceful people and after dealing with the huge forest fires in the far west of the country two years ago, the rebuild in the flooded East started immediately.. Pretty much everyone with a tractor jumped into the cabin and headed off to see what they could do to help..
We deliberately chose our location here between the mountains and the coast to make it super easy for guests to whizz easily around all the best bits.. and there are A LOT of best bits in every direction!
So with lots of bridges and roads washed away in many parts of the Centre and East of Slovenia it meant some of those amazing places were temporarily off limits.. Amazing places like Velika Planina and the main subject of this blog, the Secret Partisan Hospital..
Velika Planina.. Big Mountain Meadow.. Heaven on Earth..
Velika Planina is a huge mountain in the Kamnik Alps with a stunning Hobbit village perched on top and is reached by cable car or a long winding drive and hike.
You can reach the cable car in directly 70 mins from the Lodge and we describe this place as quite simply Heaven on Earth.. you will see why when you go up there into the clouds and wander among the meadows covered in Alpine flowers with cowbells clonking away in the background!
Well, the problem was the access road from Kamnik to the cable car was damaged in the floods, but even then, visits were restored by the end of the summer, so we look forward to guests returning to this magical mountain this summer.
Serious Damage to the Secret WW2 Partisan Hospital near Cerkno..
But now to the subject of this blog and the extremely sad news that most of the stunningly beautiful Franja WW2 Secret Partisan Hospital was washed away in heavy flooding and will be closed for at least 2024.
But we do have some amazing alternatives to think about explained below..
It is impossible to cram just 10 places into a Slovenian Top Ten and if you want a clue to what we consider our own minimum top 30, then have a look for the Golden Eggs on our SECRET PLACES TREASURE MAP..
Then you will notice BOTH Velika Planina AND the WW2 Secret Partisan Hospital would be right inside a Top 10 that includes over one hundred other possible TOP Tenners!..
(Please forget the ridiculous so called Top 10's from people who visited Slovenia for 5 mins and only had time to see lake Bled and Ljubljana castle.. We are talking about a real and serious Green Slovenia top Ten (ok, 30-40) here)!
Franja WW2 secret Partisan Hospital..
OK, so it is extremely difficult to describe and explain the massive impact & effect a visit to this secret WW2 hospital can have on you and your holiday, to make it one of those incredible MUST DO activities you might not have heard about..
But we will give it a go..
So most people can imagine the French resistance fighting the Nazis from restaurants and cafes..
Well the only cards the Slovenian Partisans were dealt was to be surrounded by the third largest forests in Europe to hide in instead. Places they knew like the backs of their hands..
So they built a huge network of secret hospitals and bases in the forests, all over Slovenia.. constantly moving them around or sadly being discovered by betrayals and having them attacked or destroyed by the occupiers.
Well, the main Hospital NUMBER ONE in this secret network was this Franja hospital, almost 20 separate wooden buildings forming a complete hospital, hidden half way up a stunningly beautiful mountain, surrounded by forest and completely secret..
The only way to get there for severely injured soldiers was to be blindfolded, laid on top of a wooden stretcher and hauled up the mountain at night by brave Partisans, wading up the river.
When you think Hollywood is struggling nowadays for decent stories, retelling and reinventing guys & girls flying around in capes and tights all the time, we simply cannot believe Tinseltown has not yet come across this amazing true story!
It has got the lot.. incredible bravery, stunning scenery, good against evil! But don't worry too much about the La La Land executives sipping their cappucinos, COS you can go there and see this secret hospital for yourself!
To repeat.. it is uterrly unmissable.. We often get guests come back from their day trip adventure there, maybe in combination with having a swim in the Bela Idrija river or visiting the massive Mercury Mine in Idrija and they have to wipe a tear from their eye when recounting visiting such a special place.
So we need to understand that during this guerilla war effort in WW2, the hospital complex was built as best as possible, with materials the Partisans could get their hands on and carry up the mountain, but no one could have imagined it would last 70 years!
Indeed another flood washed most of those original buildings away many years ago, leaving just one original hut intact, but all were restored and they will be again, as this place is just too important in human history to be ignored..
The museum environment was created beautifully with a path built up alongside the river and brilliant signs ˛& descriptions in English so the whole world could experience the amazing strory of this secret hospital, run by a brave woman (Dr Franja) against the odds..
Each hut explained what it was for and how the people lived and worked there, often with original letters home, documents and interviews..
You can even read the story in one of the huts there of a German soldier who found redemption when saved by the doctors and stayed on at the hospital to make shoes for the patients ..
A visit here will totally blow you away. It is a museum that you almost certainly did not expect to find in your "caves & castles & lakes holiday to fairytale central Europe"..
Nevertheless we are delighted to tell you Green Slovenia has absolutely got the lot!
The big question is, will you make the time to see it all?!
IF you do visit a secret WW2 Partisan hospital, you can immediately tick stunning mountains, huge bushy forests, a waterfall or two and beautiful crystal clear rivers on your wish list for Slovenia, but be prepared for the hairs on the back of neck to stand up and your blood to run cold as you touch, see and feel the incredible human story that unfolded in these places..
Quite simply it is unmissabubble..
Well, sadly for 2024, it will be off limits, so leave it on your to do list for another visit, BUT the other main purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to the MANY OTHER SECRET HOSPITALS that you can find dotted around the forests here.
There is a bit of compensatory news that the town museum in Cerkno will host many of the documents recovered from the flood, so you could go there at least to read the story, but in our humble opinion you would be SOOOO missing out on the FULL MONTY WHOLE experience, we are recommending dong something else instead.. below..
OK, so we have made it one of our many missions to discover as many of these other secret forest hospitals that are worth visiting and let you know about them too!
You are gonna have another most unexpected fab Green adventure with a bit of a hike finding one, cos by definition.. they will be hidden in secret locations and surrounded by forest!
Yes, the Franja Cerkno hospital was easily the biggest & best preserved and you will need to use your imagination or see photos at some of these other hospital locations cos the buildings have decayed away or been destroyed, but you can do that, can't you?!
If you can, then you will be massively rewarded with the huge buzz from being in the stunning nature and your bones will still chill when you read the stories of humans trying to protect and help humans, whilst hiding from other humans.
In one of these other secret forest hospitals, really close to the beautiful Velika Planina mountain we mentioned above, we will never forget absolutely freezing with shock, blood running cold, when we walked down a path leading out of that secret hospital complex and saw a preserved machine gun nest.. the sudden realisation that here, in Green paradise, people were fighting for their lives and it hits you like a sledgehammer..
BREAKING NEWS for 2024 about another Secret Partisan Hideaway you CAN visit: the Secret Partisan Printing Press nr Idrija..
Another unmissable secret WW2 Partisan location AND not so far from the Cerkno secret hospital is in the forests above Idrija.. a secret Printing Press complex where Partisans printed over a million sheets of paper in defiance of the Nazis and lasted until the end of the war.. Well, how on earth could you miss this one from your list?!
Well we have some excellent news for those disappointed at not being able to see the Franja hospital this year, cos we spoke to a lovely lady, Damjana, who works at the Idrija town museum, (which of course in Slovenia is inside yet another stunning castle on top of a hill) and she is the daughter of the wonderful man who gives tours at the Printing Press in Slovenian..
Well Damjana will be giving tours in English and all you need to do is CALL the museum on 00386 (0) 418 701 48, ask for Damjana and set up a tour!
PLEASE try to think a bit ahead and call a few days or at least a day ahead so you do not miss out on this amazing tour.
It costs around €5 per person or about €17 for a family ticket and don't forget, these amazing places were all hidden deep in the forest, so you will need to meet Damjana in Idrija and follow her to the Secret Printing Press car park..
The Printing Press is situated on the side of a stunning mountain in a phenominal Green jungle, but luckily for you, there is a simple 250 metres walk up there from the car park!
The secret printing press is celebrating it's 80th anniversary in 2024 and is still in perfect condition and working order.. so folks, this really is a very serious alternative for those missing out on the nearby Franja secret hospital this year!
There is yet another fantastic human story to be told here in Green paradise, so make sure you do not miss out!
And while other visitors are trudging around Bled lake complaining at "how many people" there are wanting to have a Crem Schnitta and a cup of coffee, you can be out in Green paradise on your own, visiting one of these amazing secret hospital locations!
The choice is yours.. ok sad news about the main Partisan hospital, but it WILL return and perhaps good news that you read this article in time and learnt about the other forest hospitals and the Printing Press to go see instead!
Where on earth do I find these other secret hospitals?..
We knew there was a huge story to be told when we started discovering these secret hospitals, so we included a whole page about them in our bulging Daytrips section..
Click here for our SECRET PARTISAN WW2 HOSPITAL section and we sincerely hope you have a wonderfully unexpected, emotional and very Green day out finding one of them!
PS.. Even we have a new secret WW2 hospital in our sights, we heard about one hiding in the forests of Kocevje and we are very excited indeed to go down there and see if we can find it this spring!