Solkan is a place with a history of more than a thousand years, first mentioned in written records in 1001, together with Gorica. The settlement grew up along the beautiful Soča river, in the safe embrace of Sabotin and Sveta Gora. In the past centuries it was a pilgrimage centre and a furman’s stop, but it became particularly important in the 18th century when mills and sawmills were built along the Soča river, the remains of which can still be seen today at the old dam. Solkan was particularly famous for its carpenters, known as “tišlarji”, whose products even won prizes at European fairs.
The Soča river, which rises in the heart of the Julian Alps, has a special significance in the national consciousness of the people of Primorje because of its natural beauty and historical events.
In front of Solkan, today, the restless mountain beauty is dammed by a hydroelectric power plant, creating an artificial lake that is a pleasure to fish in. Below the dam, it is again wild and suitable for kayak descents.
The coastal poet Simon Gregorčič dedicated one of his most beautiful poems to Soča.
If you follow the walking path from Ošterija Žogica towards Solkan, you will be amazed by the magnificent view of the Solkan bridge over the Soča river just after the first corner. the 220-metre-long giant, which represents the pinnacle of bridge-building expertise in the early 20th century, boasts the largest stone arch in the world!
It is one of 65 bridges on the Bohinj railway line, which connected the port of Trieste with Vienna in 1906. The bridge was not spared from casulty during World War I, however it was successfully renovated and restored back to its original state.
The Bohinj railway line is more than 100 years old. If you’re ever tempted to travel back in time, book a seat on a museum train that has already carried our ancestors along the scenic route. And time will suddenly stand still.
According to legend, the Slavs named the 609-metre-high hill, which rises steeply above the Soča river, Samotin on their arrival, because the riverbed separates it from the surrounding peaks of the Trnovo plateau. Until the 18th century, a pilgrimage church stood on Sabotin, where mass was held every sunday, and later the church on Sveta Gora took over its role.
During World War I, the battle line of the Soča Front ran along the hillside. Today, many caverns and the remains of dug-out trenches still remind us of one of the bloodiest military conflicts on our soil. You can also walk through the caverns, preferably with a guide. And if you’re hiking alone, don’t forget to bring flashlight!
Peace park on mount Sabotin
Mount Sabotin, which marks the border between Slovenia and Italy, has become a symbol of the unification of nations in the 21st century with its Peace park. At the same time, it is meant to introduce visitors to its rich natural heritage. Sabotin is covered with mediterranean and alpine plants and is one of the richest floristic areas in Slovenia.
You can also cycle up the hill, as there are two marked trails with different levels of difficulty. Keen hikers can climb it from as many as six directions. Gradually, you will get to know its history and its flora and fauna in full.
The military cemetery under Sabotin is just one of the many silent witnesses to the cruel World War I scattered throughout the Soča valley. The last resting place was mostly for soldiers of Hungarian nationality.
Sveta Gora or Skalnica
Legend has it that in 1539, the Mother of God appeared to the shepherdess Urška Ferligoj from Grgar, who was tending sheep at Skalnica, and told her to build a house there. Five years later, a new three-nave building was built on the site of the previous church. At the time of the consecration, the then Patriarch of Oglele presented the church with the famous painting of the Virgin and child by the Venetian painter Palma sr., which is still in the main altar today.
The Soča Front was also fatal for the church on Sveta Gora, which soon after the fighting started turned into a ruin.
In 1928, the Pilgrim Church of the Assumption of Mary was rebuilt and rededicated. Today, the pilgrimage to the Mother of God is the most famous pilgrimage in western Slovenia.
Ošterija Žogica is a crossroads of trails from all over northern Primorska and, of course, a great starting point for excursions:
to the Soča valley and onwards to Trento as far as the source of the Soča river (the Emerald route), to Goriška Brda, a region of excellent wine and fruit, where the “Sabotin” road leads via a new bridge, to the Vipava valley, along the famous Vipava wine route, to Karst, the land of the storm, of terrine and prosciutto, which has been inviting for centuries with its natural and cultural beauty (part of the Vetrova trail).
Solkan borders Italy, more specifically Gorizia. the oldest town in the Goriška region, a.k.a the former seat of the Gorizian nobility for centuries. Gorizia is also home to a well-preserved castle, surrounded by a medieval type of settlement.