its upcoming marathon, a day running from Šmarje pri Jelšah to Podcetrtek, through the proliferation
of churches, vineyards and gentle rolling slopes will
not only leave you breathless, but wanting more.
Perched high up on a hill is the
magnificent church of St. Rok. The path zigzagging down
into the valley below takes you through the even more
stunning, Way of the Cross. You could be forgiven for
driving through Šmarje pri Jelšah and not noticing
it hidden behind the concentration of cultural buildings
in the town. But once you do, your mouth will fall open
in speechless awe.
Although most of it is currently
undergoing restoration, it’s still a compelling
sight. Fourteen baroque chapels line the hill starting
from the large chapel at the bottom and ending at the
church. The pilgrim is led between each chapel in such
a way that he can only see his next destination. By the
time you’ve puffed your way to the top, you will
be truly enlightened, if not very out of breath.
It’s said that the Emperor
Franz Jozef was travelling around his kingdom and stopped
here on this hill, proclaiming it a heavenly beauty and
boasting that no other place under his rule was quite
like it. As you walk downwards along the path, gazing
into the lush, green valley dotted with the spires of
many other churches, you can’t help but wonder if
he was right.
The Illyrians were the first to
settle here, closely followed by the Romans and the Celts.
The town’s first recorded name was Sancta Maria,
but later a mansion was built and named after the petrified
alder trees that grow here. And the name was changed to
Šmarje pri Jelšah.
upcoming annual marathon starts from the centre, and leads
up through the Way of the Cross. From here the road twists
through peaceful hilly farmland where the only sound you
will hear is that of the odd tractor, and farmer’s
dog barking as you pass by.
here are so small that most of them are not signed, so
you might have to guess as to which one you are passing
through. At Brezje pri Lekmarju the route joins the wine
have to be careful from here not to miss the signpost
for Orehovec. From here
the road is narrow and twists through an undulating landscape
of rolling green hills are far as the eye can see. In
the far distance your eyes will be drawn to the commanding
sight of twin churches perched high upon Tinska Gora.
surrounding hillsides contain some of the region’s
best land for wine production, as is illustrated by the
abundance of vineyards that are fighting among each other
for space. The only problem will be choosing which one
dominant of the two church spires is actually the one
that was built last. According to legend, there was once
only the Church of St. Anne here. But during the days
when the Counts of Celje ruled the land, one of their
fair maidens went missing. The counts made a vow to build
a church wherever she was found, and thus she was found
here next to the church of St. Anne. The Church of the
Mother of God was built and its gothic spire rose high
above the other.
near to the two churches is Peterlin’s Beech Tree,
a natural monument believed to be 400 years old. Local
legend says that the tree emits a powerful positive energy,
and that travellers over the centuries have often stopped
and held the tree to absorb some of its positive vibes.
If you plan to do the marathon, you might want to stop
here and partake in this ritual, as you will still have
a very long way to go before reaching Podcetrtek, and
may well be in need of some positivity.
here to view the full photoshoot
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