The Mighty Wind of the Vipava Valley
The Burja is a powerful north-eastern wind that greatly shapes the life in the valley. Legend has it that at one point it even turned around the wheel of history. Even though its gusts overturn and blow away everything not properly fastened or bolted, burja is a beloved part of this locality as it clears the air and scatters the clouds. The gale force of the burja wind appeals to the thrill-seeking visitors of the Vipava Valley.
A Natural Phenomenon
The Burja occurs over the Vipava Valley when a high pressure cell is present over Central Europe and generally pushes the cold air from the inland toward the hills and into the lowlands. It flows towards the valley down the slopes of Gora, Čaven and Nanos in gusts. When that happens, the hilltops are topped with distinct clouds, hats as they are called, or zastava (meaning “flag”) as the locals like to refer to them. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the valley, the skies are clear. Occasionally, burja will evolve due to a cyclone, in which case it will bring rain. Burja gusts can exceed 200 km/h, with the highest unofficial gust speed having been recorded at 235 km/h. Generally it occurs during winter months, but it is not unusual in other seasons as well.
According to legend, in the year 394 AD, it was the Burja wind that gave the decisive blow in the battle between the armies of the Roman Emperor Theodosius and his opponent Eugenius, which took place in the Upper Vipava Valley. It turned the events into Theodosius’s favour, signalling the final triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
Living with Burja
No visitor stays indifferent when the wind comes down the mountain. For someone not used to this wind, the gusts can be outright terrifying. But the locals take it in stride. The dwellings and villages are designed to withstand the burja. The roof tiles on older houses are weighed down with rocks, and the doorways are usually located on the side facing away from the wind. When burja gains force it can obstruct the traffic; during those times there is a ban in place for caravans.
A Special Experience
When burja reaches speeds of over 100 km/h, you can take a very special tour and hike up to the edge of the Gora hill. The foot of the slope over which the burja pours down into the valley is completely sheltered from the wind and only the rustling tree tops indicate that there is something going on up there. Once on top, the burja shows its full strength. Standing on the wind you feel like you are about to be blown away. Don’t worry though – burja can’t sweep you off your feet, but it can be a whole lot of fun to feel it try. Still, make sure you don't stand too close to the edge of the rock, just to be safe. Clear air, dishevelled hair and a blushed face and nose – these are the most common results of her presence in the Vipava Valley.
There is a ton of jokes going around the burja wind and the locals. The most famous and funny is the burja speed scale: at 50 km/h the locals open the windows to let some air in, at 80 km/h they send their kids out to get some fresh air and at 150 km/h they declare that it’s “rather windy” outside.