Broad forests and grassy meadows, pleasant tracks, beautiful views and plenty of cultural, historical and natural heritage – a hike from Višnja Gora to Polževo offers all this. The hiking trail also includes a literary element, since it coincides with the Jurčič Trail (commemorating the writer Josip Jurčič), and aspects of a nature trail, since the Višnja Gora snail symbol draws attention to the diversity of tree species along the route. Just before the end of the ascent you will come to the Hotel Polževo, while right at the end of the trail is the Church of the Holy Spirit, about which an interesting legend is told.
Višnja Gora, a picturesque little town on an isolated hill not far from Ljubljana, is one of the best preserved medieval settlements in Slovenia, complete with town walls and a guard tower. On entering the town, familiar to most readers in Slovenia thanks to the children’s book The Famous Goat Trial by writer Josip Jurčič (born in nearby Muljava), you are greeted by the symbol of Višnja Gora – the snail. Snail sculptures of various sizes adorn practically every house in the Višnja Gora area.
The hike begins above the historic centre of the little town, at the sign for the Jurčič Trail (Jurčičeva pot) and a hiking signpost indicating “Stari grad” and “Polževo”. Along the way you can also visit the ruins of the castle that was the home of the local Count in the eleventh century.
Walk past the houses and into the forest. This is also where the Višnja Gora Snail Learning Trail (Učna pot po sledeh višnjanskega polža) begins. Along the trail there are 26 boards with information about tree species. Follow the broad forest path uphill to the signpost for “Stari grad” (Old Castle). You can make a small diversion to visit the castle ruins and then return to the marked trail, which eventually leads you onto an asphalt road and the hamlet of Pristava. Continue along between meadows and houses until the trail re-enters the forest as a wide macadam road.
The going is almost flat, even when the trail emerges again from the forest and passes through meadows, which are dotted with flowers from spring until autumn. The next hamlet you come to is Zavrtače.
Continue along the road past the houses and between meadows until you catch sight of the Hotel Polževo. Above it is a ski slope, which you can climb to visit the Late Gothic church dedicated to the Holy Spirit. According to legend, the church builders started off building this church down in the village, but when they woke up the next day they found that it had been carried to the top of the hill. They therefore finished building the church where it stands today.
You can either retrace your steps to the starting point or turn the hike into a loop and continue on through Nova Vas and Kriška Vas and back to Pristava. There are some hiking waymarks at the beginning (although not many), but even after these end the trail is very easy to follow and pleasant to walk on.
After leaving the church, return to the top of the ski slope and continue straight on into the forest following the narrow path (on your left when facing the hotel). Cross the small meadow in the middle of the forest and then pass under the trees again and follow the comfortable track (keeping to the right all the time) to Nova Vas. A little before reaching the village, the trail emerges from the trees again and passes between meadows and fields at the edge of the forest.
When you reach the road, you will see the last hiking waymark on the other side. Turn left at this point and continue until the end of the asphalt, and then turn right onto a field track. Continue straight on between meadows, orchards and fields, keeping to the right. In fine weather you can enjoy views of the Julian Alps (with Triglav), the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Krim and even Snežnik. The track is very pleasant to walk on and the terrain is either flat or slightly downhill. The track ends when it reaches Kriška Vas. Go up the hill to the right and into the village (St Leonard’s Church, a Gothic structure, will be visible behind the houses on the right). You will soon see the local fire station across the road on the right. Walk past it and on towards Pristava. The route follows the asphalt road but – like all the other roads that make up this trail – it is quiet with little traffic and therefore safe – and pleasant, as it runs between wide meadows and fields.
Once in Pristava, you are back on familiar terrain. Višnja Gora is less than half an hour’s walk from here. If you are not in a hurry, you can also take the time for a wander through the old town centre.
Višnja Gora (32 km from the centre of Ljubljana): car park below Cesta Dolenjskega odreda above the old centre of Višnja Gora where there is an apiary dedicated to the Carniolan bee. Podsmreka Castle near Višnja Gora was in fact the home of Emil Rothschütz (1836–1909), one of the most important beekeeping experts in Europe in his time. From the car park go up the steps next to the apiary, cross the road and you will see the signposts.