Fascinating Traces of Technical Culture
The abundance of water resources in the Vipava Valley facilitated the early development of production mills. The earliest accounts of a water-powered sawmill on the Slovenian territory date back to 1477, mentioning a sawmill built near the hamlet of Manče on the Močilnik Brook, which in turn is a tributary of the Vipava River. The life in the valley was significantly shaped by the multitude of mills lining the Vipava River, the booming ironworks dotting the shores of the Hubelj River, boosting an early industrial heyday. They enriched the valley through technical culture which remains a signature feature to the present day.
Ironworks along the Hubelj River
In 1561, Emperor Ferdinand issued the permit to build ironworks along the Hubelj River. As it turned out, this was a milestone decision. The river nursed the growth of a successful ironworks industry, and over the next few decades the area saw the emergence of other production mills as well. In addition to furnaces and blast furnaces, the Hubelj River powered a smithy, a foundry, a copper rolling mill, flour mills and sawmills. The ironworks were in operation up to the early 20th century. Today, the restored blast furnaces and ruins of former facilities close the Hubelj riverhead attract many visitors eager to explore the fascinating industrial development along the Hubelj River with local guides.
Information and guided tours: TIC Ajdovščina
Mills of the Vipava Valley
The Vipava River was lined with mills commissioned by local land owners back in the Middle Ages, the oldest records going back to the end of the 15th century. However, many mills have vanished almost without a trace. The banks of the clear waters that are popular among fishermen today, still occasionally feature remnants of old mills. Other buildings have stood the test of time and attest to the vital role of the milling industry in this region.
Mills worth seeing:
- Lanthieri Mill called Hell – information: TIC Nova Gorica
- Mill in the village of Renče – information: www.rence.si
- Mill in the village of Orehovlje – information: Turizem Miren-Kostanjevica
A special place among the mills of the Vipava Valley goes to the Jochmann Mill in Ajdovščina. At the close of the 19th century, Wenzel Jochmann built a large cylindrical mill on the Hubelj River. The mill was one of the largest and most state-of-the-art in Austria-Hungary. The vestiges of this building are still visible, and mark the start of a fascinating footpath retracing the industrial heritage of Ajdovščina. Anchored in the tradition of this mill, the period after the Second World War saw the emergence of a company that today operates under the name Mlinotest, and produces Slovenia’s most popular pasta.
Information and guided tours: TIC Ajdovščina
The Heyday of a Diverse Industrial Era
A vital transport route, the Vipava Valley has always been open to development, which includes industry. The first silk mill was set up in the early 18th century close to the town of Gorica. An important industrial complex called Pale developed upstream of the Hubelj River in the 19th century in Ajdovščina. In addition to iron and copper mills, there was also a cloth mill, dye mill, paper mill, brewery, tinning factory and factory for electrical appliances, as well as three power plants. The growing technical expertise boosted the industrial development after the Second World War. Several large and successful factories mushroomed in Ajdovščina and Nova Gorica, making up the backbone of the economy in the valley. For decades the face of the countryside remained unaltered, with tiny farms cultivated by locals with factory day jobs, dotting the landscape.
An unadulterated countryside is a remarkable value today; the locals are fully committed to keeping it that way.
The Pride and Joy of the Vipava Valley
The openness of the Vipava Valley has spilled over into an openness of mind. The natural features, the heritage of yore and a culture of creativity intertwine and give birth to new ideas. The lush, verdant and sun-kissed valley is the garden of Slovenia; it delivers premium wines and succulent fruit, whilst also providing an inspiring setting for creative endeavours.
Made in the Vipava Valley:
- Fructal – premium fruit juices, including juice from the local Vipava peaches; products made from fruits of nature - www.fructal.si
- Pipistrel – world-wide leading manufacturer of ultra-light motor gliders and sailplanes with an auxiliary engine - www.pipistrel.si