The Cultural Heritage of Slovenia

Numerous castles, architecture masterpieces, old cities and towns, hayracks, watermills, saltpans, picturesque beehive panels, intriguing art, culinary and wine culture, traditional customs …. they all bear witness of diverse life of past generations in Slovenia.

Cultural heritage of Slovenia is definitely not just another presentation of past life, but also reveals the previous thinking and perception of the world, creativity, social cohesion, energy, emotions. Respecting and protecting national cultural heritage is a commitment of each individual. Slovenia builds its identity also on its rich cultural heritage, and if we are to understand this, we have to know the heritage well.

Because Slovenia had no metropolis and its central national institutions were established at the end of the 20th century, there are few monumental buildings in the country. However, there is an interesting ethnographic and ethnological heritage. Rural architecture, original solutions for planning small settlements and houses, kozolci (hayracks), and quaint town centres that radiate the organised modesty of former townspeople are the most visible features of the cultural heritage.

The attitude of Slovenians to their national culture is truly intense, and Slovenia boasts a well-developed network of cultural institutions, organisations and associations comparable to most developed European countries. There is a rich cultural life not only in the biggest towns, but in almost every corner of Slovenia.

Beautifully preserved old town centres such as Ptuj, Piran, Škofja Loka, Kranj, Ljubljana; display the central European heritage of Gothic and Baroque architecture. The same applies to the majority of churches that constitute the greatest share of the cultural heritage. The best-known examples of religious heritage are the church at Sveta gora near Ptuj, and the Stična, Žiče and Pleterje monasteries. The town of Idrija, with a disused mercury mining complex, is a well-preserved cultural monument of the early industrial era.

Movable cultural heritage is promoted by about sixty museums and by numerous museum collections. The biggest museums are the national general museums in Ljubljana: the National Museum of Slovenia and the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia, specialised museums (ethnographic, technical, natural science museum) and regional museums all over Slovenia. The most interesting include Kobarid museum which won the Best European Museum Prize.

The story of culture and arts in Slovenia has been marked by diverse and rich natural and cultural tradition that has always given rise to the creativity of artists. Slovenians take arts and culture as nation’s basic element, as a pride and heart of national identity. They have a special place in Slovenian history, too, as they helped Slovenia compensate for the absence of national political and state institutions in the past.

The cultural market of Slovenia is small. About a fifth of the two-million-strong population regularly attends cultural events. The funds of culture in Slovenia come for this reason to a great extent from the government. The state fully finances the national network of institutions and also covers most programmes, activities and projects in the field of international cultural cooperation, a considerable share of publishing, the cultural activity of the Italian and Hungarian minorities in Slovenia, as well as of the Slovenians living abroad.

Local communities are responsible for libraries, some other cultural institutions (local museums, art galleries and cultural centres) and cultural associations. Market mechanisms, however, rule the entire entertainment industry, including rock, jazz and other music genres that are also important forms of creativity and that play a significant role in culture and society. Where else in the world could one encounter great names in culture, such as the genious architect Jože Plečnik or where the symbol of cultured Slovenians is the greatest Slovenian poet France Prešeren?

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[Partial sources: UKOM, photo: Janez Tolar, STB]

Interesting Facts

THE OLDEST WHEEL.

The oldest wheel with an axle in the world was found in the Ljubljansko barje area. The estimated age of the wooden wheel is 5200 years. The end also indicates the outstanding value of the pile-dwelling villages dating back to the era from the 5th to 2nd millennia B.C., i.e. to the time of the first farmers. The importance of protecting and preserving such sites was also recognised by UNESCO, which in 2011 confirmed the group nomination of Alpine countries (Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland) and added the pile-dwellings to the World Heritage Site List.

 

THE FIRST SONOROUS THEATRE.

An interesting Slovenian cultural development is the Sonorous Theatre, a special form of aesthetic stage arts which uses light, sound and vibration as narrative elements.

 

CASTLES OF SLOVENIA.

Slovenia is also interesting for its many castles and mansions, which were used by the aristocracy as holiday homes and hunting lodges. The best-known castles are those in Ljubljana, Bled, Ptuj, Brdo, Podsreda, Predjama, Otočec, Mokrice and Snežnik, all popular among tourists.

 

CULTURAL EVENTS.

Slovenia annually hosts many events that enjoy recognition beyond its national borders. Among the most notable are the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts (which has gained a reputation as one of the greatest European visual art events), the annual Ljubljana Summer Festival, Festival Lent in Maribor, the Liffe film festival, the Exodos festival of dance arts in Ljubljana, the Ana Desetnica street theatre gather- ing, the PEN writers’ meeting in Bled, the Vilenica writers’ meeting in Sežana, and the Biennial of Industrial Design. Especially important in this respect is the Cankarjev dom cultural and congress centre in Ljubljana, a member of the network of the most prominent global cultural festivals, which is Slovenia’s window on the world in the field of exchange and cooperation of Slovenian and foreign artists.

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