How do you find a real Russian dacha next door to Ljubljana?

Always in search of the hidden treasures of Slovenia, I made an incredible discovery – a real Russian dacha at the very gates of Ljubljana! How is that possible? Here’s what I found:

Just 10 km from the centre of Ljubljana, in the village of Gameljne at the foot of the mountain Šmarna Gora, is where you’ll find this hidden gem. A romantic creek called Gameljščica flows through the village. Follow it to the village’s edge, and suddenly it’s as if you’ve been transported to the greenbelt of Moscow, as you stand in front of a wonderful Russian dacha! All this just 15 minutes by car from central Ljubljana, or an easy bus ride (No.1 or No.8).

We know a lot about the lifestyle of Slovenian farmers. Beautiful, ancient farms have been preserved, and there are many museums to country life. But very little remains to show us anything about the lifestyle of the wealthy bourgeoisie of that time. This unique Russian Dacha is one of the few survivors.

History

The original building dates back to around 1880. It was in a run-down condition when in 1907, it was purchased by Franc Petrič, a rich merchant from Ljubljana. Petrič was a widely-travelled polyglot who had greatly enjoyed the Russian lifestyle and the dacha culture of wealthy Russians. He renovated the house in the original style of one of these Russian weekend houses, and by all accounts it looked like he took enormous care to capture the authentic dacha style in every detail, lavishing the house with valuable furnishings and decoration.

The dacha became a meeting place for all of Ljubljana’s society, but its heyday ended in 1915 when Petrič was arrested and executed as an alleged spy for Italy.

Once again, the wonderful house slid into neglect.

Today

Happily, in 2011 the dacha was declared a Slovenian cultural heritage building, and in 2016 its future was secured when the Slovenian entrepreneur Aleš Musar bought it with the passionate determination to fully renovate and restore it as a living cultural meeting place.

Musar’s hobby is art history, and he is a dedicated collector. With the help of the best restorers, every detail of the dacha was carefully returned to its original, pristine condition. Musar sourced authentic 19th-century furniture and artworks in auctions throughout Europe, supplementing it with exquisite pictures, glasses and porcelain from his own collection.

In the small but fine dacha library, he placed one of the oldest books in Slovenia: the first edition of Valvasor’s ‘Die Ehre des Hertzogthum Crain’, dating from 1689. It was a proud moment for me to be able to leaf through this unique work.

You can tour the fascinating Russian dacha for yourself: current opening times are 11.00 and 12.00 every Saturday. Afterwards, relax in the pretty summer garden where an enticing café will open soon.

For information, call +386 590 747 90, or visit info@ruska-daca.si.

Special group tours may also be arranged at that number.

The dacha is also available to rent: it is a delightful venue for a wedding, a significant birthday party, a company event or a very special reception for friends.

Finally, a personal suggestion from me: if you can, combine your visit with lunch in one of my favourite restaurants, the nearby Restaurant Skaručna, in the village of the same name. I consider it one of the best and most unique restaurants in all Slovenia.

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