Town with a Unique Historical Background
The scenic hillside town will catch your eye from afar. Perched proudly on a hill near Ajdovščina, Vipavski Križ used to be a very important town and the centre of the valley for centuries. The tiny, picture-book town with an impressive wall is one of the finest monuments of cultural history in the country.
How Križ became a town
The humble village, which was first mentioned in written records in the 13th century, ows its glory to the unwitting Ottomans who had taken Gorica at the end of the 15th century which thoroughly alarmed the local aristocracy. The Bishop of Gorica at that time therefore commissioned a castle with four towers to be built on this hill for defence. Soon, the castle and village were protected with a wall. This was the first line of defence against the Ottomans trying to raid Gorica. In light of the looming danger, the importance of the fortress soon grew.
In the beginning of the 16th century, Vipavski Križ was granted market rights and some twenty years later town privileges by the Emperor.
Inside the sturdy walls, the dense settlement grew into a bustling trade centre with two annual fairs and a string of other town privileges. Walk down the narrow alleys that were carefully restored. Even though the buildings have undergone significant changes over the centuries, the town managed to retain its original design.
Spiritual and cultural centre
The beginning of the 17th century, when the castle was purchased by the Attems family, marks the pinnacle of the town's spiritual and cultural progress. At the behest of the Attems family, Capuchin monks settled in the town in a monastery built for them by the Attems. Throughout its rich history, the monastery made an indelible mark on the town. The Capuchin monastery still operates today and features a precious library with many manuscripts and unique books, as well as some extraordinary pieces of art. Visitors wishing to visit the monastery should book their tour in advance.
Born in Križ, the famous baroque preacher and author Janez Svetokriški (Tobia Lionelli) lived and worked on his writings in this monastery.
The five-tome collection of his popular sermons is kept in the monastery library. Many of the author's witty lessons resonated heavily with the common folk and became part of the local lore. Ask your local guide to recount some of the wittier tales by Janez Svetokriški.
Castle and two churches
The walls of the old castle plus the two ancient bell towers create the distinctive outline of Vipavski Križ and pique one's curiosity to take a look inside. The Parish Church of St Cross boasts an ornate baroque interior featuring intricate carvings, paintings and stucco decorations. The centrepiece of the monastery church is the large Baroque painting Glory of the Holy Trinity which is one of the largest and finest canvas paintings in the country. This piece de resistance and other artworks can be seen if you visit the monastery. The remnants of the heavily dilapidated castle recount the tale of the castle's former splendour and the importance of this arguably smallest town in the erstwhile empire.
Captivating in every season
A trip to Vipavski Križ is always a good idea. The town is permeated with ancient tales and its surrounding area offers a myriad of opportunities for strolling, hiking, cycling and of course culinary pampering – this is Vipavsko after all.
The local bureau Zavod Vipavski Križ organizes guided town tours year round. Optionally you can also see the Capuchin monastery. Vipavski križ attracts with a host of events: a very popular one is the Zelèn Wine Festival that is held in June together with the Fair Day in Vipavski Križ paying homage to the local heritage. In August, the castle walls host three evenings revolving around music and wine held under the name Zven grajskih sten. As the year draws to its end, Vipavski Križ draws in crowds with its nativity scenes set up on the tiny streets, in the windows and churches. Around Christmas, Vipavski Križ takes on a magical appeal with a hint of baroque, further adding to the festive atmosphere.
The Trail Around Vipavski Križ
The Trail Around Vipavski Križ leads across restored trails of the countryside, now also welcoming hikers, cyclists and runners. A pleasant route takes visitors through the villages Cesta, Plače and Male Žablje, circling the famous Vipavski Križ settlement on the hilltop. Along the way winding scenically between fields, vineyards, olive trees and orchards, passing through forest here and there, the medieval gem Vipavski Križ is always within sight. Providers of genuine local foods and crafts will be happy to welcome you on your stop.
The length of the circular trail is 7.1 km. A visit of Vipavski Križ from the recommended direction extends it to 8.2 km at most. The way is level without major inclines or slopes, running between 80 and 140 m above sea level with Vipavski Križ (176 m) as its highest point. The surface is part tarmac, mostly gravel. The trail is marked with direction boards.
The finest treasures of Vipavski Križ can be toured upon prior appointment, so make sure to book your official guide ahead of time.
Information and guided tours
Zavod Vipavski Križ, TIC Ajdovščina