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February 2024

Ready for Surprises?

Chasing the secrets of true relaxation

We travel to escape routine, at least temporarily. But experienced adventurers know that journeys also reveal many things fuelling inspiration long after we've already unpacked. Newfound facts, stories that dispel stress and busy the mind with curious ideas, are a precious part of travelling the world. Want to accompany us on a discovery of the Paradise Valley?

Stories of the turbulent past century

The picturesque Vipava Valley opens up into the Goriška plain to the west. The area of today's border with Italy, where Slovenian Nova Gorica and Italian Gorizia now merge into a unique European conurbation, has over the past century been marked by wars and fateful political decisions. Discover the scenes of major historical events that shaped the face of contemporary Europe. The many traces of one of the worst fronts of the First World War, today linked by the Walk of Peace, offer eloquent testimony to the senselessness of war. Visit the Sabotin Peace Park on the hill above Solkan, where you may venture on a guided tour through the extensive system of historical caverns and trenches, and see an innovative multimedia visitor centre. Hikers can also choose among many other trails which, in addition to information about the battles, also offer stunning views across the area of the infamous Isonzo Front. The Second World War likewise left deep traces in these parts, especially in the formation of the new post-war border which deprived Goriška of Gorizia, its historic administrative, economic and cultural centre. On the Slovenian side of the border, Slovenia's youngest town Nova Gorica was thus born, recounting the moving stories of post-war life along the border. Visit the Border Museum comprising four different museum collections dedicated to different aspects of coexistence with an imposed border that has shaped countless human destinies. Today, the border no longer exists. Connected as never before, Nova Gorica and Gorizia are co-hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2025

Pearls of medieval culture and architecture

The Vipava Valley has always been a major transport hub. In the Middle Ages, the fertile valley with its temperate climate attracted important noble families who established their estates, developed agriculture and trade, built luxurious castles and left a remarkable cultural imprint. Experience the stories of another time. In the centre of the Vipava Valley, the petite town of Vipavski Križ, one of Slovenia's most charming cultural monuments, beckons from a gentle hill. Behind beautifully preserved medieval walls await many surprises. The site, at the height of its fame the smallest town in the then empire and a commercial centre of the valley, rests against the ruins of the once magnificent Vipavski Križ Castle. The Capuchin Monastery, which still operates next to the castle, keeps an antique library and many sacral works of art. At the other end of the valley, near Branik, you simply must visit the mighty Rihemberk Castle, one of the oldest and largest preserved medieval castles in Slovenia. At the gates you will be greeted by the castle lady, who will guide you through the secrets of its distinguished past life. Today, its towers are home to a colony of bats. The castle is surrounded by pristine nature with exceptional biodiversity, which you can also discover in the modern visitor centre. The legacy of the Lanthieri counts, the last owners of Rihemberk Castle, can be explored in the town Vipava where you will be impressed by the Lanthieri Mansion on the main square, and the nearby Zemono Manor House with its Michelin-star restaurant.

The vine was here even before the Romans

In the area of today's Ajdovščina, the economic centre of the Vipava Valley, the Romans in the first centuries AD built the mighty military fortress Castra with its 14 towers. The town now boasts the longest surviving Roman walls in Slovenia, while the remains of the former fortress are also on display in the restored central square. Among the many archaeological finds in the Ajdovščina Museum Collection there is clear evidence that the Romans cultivated the grapevine. Some sources claim that the Vipava Valley had already been home to the vine before the Romans settled here. What we do know for sure is that viticulture thrived splendidly in the early 19th century. Matija Vertovec, a priest and teacher of the Vipava winegrowers, then published the first technical book on viticulture and winemaking in Slovenia. He catalogued all the grape varieties of the time, many local ones which have survived to present day, a rarity in the wider European area. In the Vipava Valley you can find the indigenous Zelen, Pinela, and a whole host of other old varieties. Exploring the outstanding wines of the valley is therefore a unique enjoyment, enriched by expertly guided tastings and personal stories of the local winemakers.

No matter which mystery or historical fact you intend to explore, tasting delicious foods and socializing with hospitable locals will remind you that the Paradise Valley is real.