A Green Town by the Cold River
Ajdovščina, the second largest town in the Vipava Valley, may seem a sleepy, rural town at first glance. Safely huddled next to the slopes of the Gora Plateau, it is tucked away in a fertile valley and influenced by the mild Mediterranean climate. But looks can be deceiving. Almost as though the town had taken on the character of the torrential Hubelj River next to which it grew, Ajdovščina is a surprisingly dynamic, on occasion even impulsive town, brimming with creative drive.
A stroll through the millennia
Going back over two thousand years, the history of the town starts with the Romans who constructed the first road station next to Hubelj River, expanding it to the mighty military fort Castrum Ad Fluvium Frigidum ('Fortress by the Cold River') designed to protect the east border of the Roman Empire.
When strolling through the town, it's nearly impossible to miss the impressively well-preserved towers of the Roman fort, which were once connected with a rampart.
Fascinating artefacts connected to the life of Romans in this area are exhibited in the museum collection. In later times, a medieval settlement developed inside the Roman walls, with narrow alleys that one can still walk today. The old town centre is lined with 19th century bourgeois houses from the town's economic heyday. Visitors can also retrace the industrial heritage from the Hubelj riverhead to the vestiges of the old iron works. An interesting landmark in the town centre is the monument to the first Slovenian post-war government which was established in 1945 here in Ajdovščina. It is designed to be an exhibition venue for the artefacts found during archaeological diggings and a Roman tower reconstruction.
The small town boasts three art galleries. The most famous of the lot is the Pilon Gallery, which accommodates the large part of the extensive oeuvre of local artist Veno Pilon, renowned painter and photographer. It regularly holds exhibitions of other artists as well. The Lokar Gallery features a memorial room paying homage to the writer Danilo Lokar and puts on exhibits of contemporary artists. Meanwhile, the Lična hiša Gallery features an attractive permanent sales exhibition of graphics and other artworks. The two churches in town also boast impressive pieces of art. The Church of John the Baptist in Ajdovščina was painted by the famous local painter Anton Cebej who was born in Šturje (today a part of Ajdovščina located on the left bank of Hubelj River). On this side of the river one can also admire the masterfully done paintings in the Church of St George.
Lean back and enjoy
Tranquil and laid-back, the old town centre invites visitors to take a break and have a locally made drink in one of the many bars. The selection leaves nothing to be desired. Choose from the premium wines from Vipava Valley, including ancient native varieties growing only in this part of the world, or order some of the world-famous juice made by Fructal which has made fans around the globe. Alternatively, you can try the locally made soda called pašareta which has been produced by the Grum family according to a family recipe for over 110 years or the freshly brewed beer from a local micro brewery. Let the indulgence begin …
Green and active
Just around the bend, right at the end of the street lie numerous paths and endless possibilities for outdoor activities.
Look up at the sky. If the day is not too windy, the slopes of Gora Hill will teem with colourful paragliders and hang-gliders, and the town will be overflown by sports aircrafts. Ajdovščina plays host to a number of important sports events such as the Vipava Valley Rally, WOTR (Obstacle Trail Run), Ajdovščina Bike Festival, Hiking in the Footsteps of Matija Vertovec and a triathlon. It isn’t just the setting that makes this town green; the town has a green soul.
A town of inspiration
The chequered industrial heritage enriched the town through sophisticated technical culture.
Today, Ajdovščina has no large-scale industry, and the town is instead touted for innovative and groundbreaking companies. It is home to Pipistrel which is a state-of-the-art company for the manufacture of ultra light and electric aircrafts. Ajdovščina is also where the production of modern unmanned aerial vehicles takes place. There is also a host of other businesses continually coming up with innovative solutions. The town boasts a large population of experts from around the world, giving it a cosmopolitan flair.
The life in the Roman period and the local technical heritage are best experienced with a local guide who will make sure to detail the history of the town in vivid images. If you plan on walking to the iron works and the source of the Hubelj River make sure to put on sensible shoes.