Charming Capital of Local Wine
During its long and rich history, Vipava had several official names and even more unofficial bynames. Natives humbly refer to it as a market, while admirers of the Vipava River’s fascinating delta-shaped source and bridges came to dub it the Venice of Slovenia. In recent years, there are more and more people who acknowledge it as the undisputed capital of the Vipava Valley wine. Vipava is a picturesque little town, chock-full of stories and lovely surprises.
The only delta-shaped riverhead in Europe
Vipava River pops up in several karst sources right under the steep slope of the Nanos Plateau where people had settled back in prehistoric times due to the abundance of clean water. The delta-shaped riverhead, which is unique in this part of Europe, is a striking feature of the town.
Over the centuries, an astonishing number of 25 bridges had been built in Vipava to span the multitude of springs and distributaries.
This is where the Venice comparison comes from. Take a walk over the bridges to the clear springs and listen to their pleasant tinkle, and let the various hues of green fill you with serenity. Experience their magical charm.
Centuries ago, the abundance of water resources, a mild climate and the very fertile soil of the Vipava Valley attracted aristocratic families to the location. Through careful managing their estates, they have created a real lasting legacy. The first reminders of the aristocratic legacy are the ruins of the old Vipava Castle looming over Vipava River which was erected at the close of the 11th century. Following a pleasant footpath uphill, the peak rewards hikers with a nice view of the immediate vicinity. Strolling over the bridges to the densely built-up small town, you walk past the Baumkirchner Tower which is in fact a part of the Tabor Castle fortification which is alive with stories of the famous baron who was a military commander of the Austrian Empire.
But the piece the resistance in the legacy of the noble families from Vipava is the Baroque Lanthieri Mansion dominating on the main town piazza, with a riverside backyard leaning on to the largest spring of the Vipava River, and a front yard with a lush park with precious putti – statues of chubby cherubs. Besides the overall Mediterranean flair of the town, the distinctly Venetian style of the mansion's front face underscores the Venice comparison. In reasonable vicinity, the counts of Lanthieri also commissioned the Renaissance-style Zemono Manor House. Today the manor features one of the best fine dining restaurants in the country. But the cosmopolitanism of the miniature town does not end here. Born in Vipava, Austrian diplomat Anton Laurin had two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi (4000 years old) brought to his birth town, which can now be seen in the Vipava cemetery.
Oral and visual remnants of the past
Despite centuries of rich cultural life, Vipava has little to show in way of material traces, with the notable exception of architectural pieces. The Lanthieri Mansion and Zemono Manor House thus feature striking murals. Perhaps the best surprise for art connoisseurs is the Church of St Stephen. The Classicist white-marble altar and beautiful frescoes from the 18th and 19th century captivate visitors and it’s not uncommon that a short trip to the church turns into a longer viewing session. Equally captivating are the stories recounted by local guides, food service providers and locals. Passionate story-tellers, their tales will enthral you so much that you will not be in a hurry to leave Vipava.
For many, Vipava Valley wine is the main reason for return trips to Vipava after having had the first taste of it. Vipava is surrounded by winegrowing hills from three sides. The locality is ideal for the native varieties that the locals managed to keep alive through the millennia. Standing out among the local varieties is the completely autochthonous Zelèn, followed by the cherished Pinela. White and red wines, rosé and orange wines will charm you with their distinct character and premium quality. The local viticulture is steeped in extensive knowledge. The neighbouring village of Vrhpolje is where the local nursery has been cultivating healthy vine plants for over a century. The renovated Lanthieri Mansion houses the School for Viticulture and Enology, and the first Wine Museum opened its doors in the mansion just recently. Wine tastings are just around the corner. Make sure to visit the wine shop Vinoteka Vipava to taste and purchase the best wines the local Vipava winemakers have to offer under the team’s expert guidance.
Climbing and outdoor activities
Among climbers, Vipava is a very popular climbing destination, especially in winter. Climbing walls on the slopes of Nanos are perfect for sport climbing and offer over 50 alpine routes. The Tura Sports and Recreation Centre is the centre of sporting events. It is located in the village of Gradišče near Vipava, beneath the Tura climbing site where there is also a camping facility. Vipava is the starting point for many hiking and cycling tours.