Ljubljana Marshes

The Ljubljana Marshes is a natural area of wetlands and peat bogs, known for its rare animal and vegetal species and for the remains of the prehistoric pile dwellings, which are inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The marshes extend over the south and southeast part of the Ljubljana Basin between the towns of Škofljica, Ig, Podpeč, Borovnica, Vrhnika, Drenov Grič and Brezovica and measure approximately 160 square kilometres. The creation of the marshes was influenced by the Ljubljanica River and their image is even nowadays marked by its stream.

Archaeological finds on the marshes

Due to the unique characteristics of the marsh soil and of the bottom of the Ljubljanica River, the marshes have preserved evidence from all the historical periods and cultures. The preservation of organic substances like wood, fibres, vegetal remains and skeletons was rendered possible by water.

Archaeologists found more than 10,000 artefacts from different historical periods, which are kept in museums in Ljubljana and abroad. The most important find of all is the world’s oldest wooden wheel, dating approximately between 3,350 and 3,100 B.C.

The pile-dweller culture

Pile dwellings or crannogs are wooden settlements, built on piles driven into the marsh ground or lake bed. The oldest lake dwelling dates back to the Mesolithic (around 5,000 B.C.) and the youngest is from the Bronze Age (around 1,000 B.C.).

To get around, the pile dwellers used dugout canoes made by cutting out the inside of tree trunks. The pile dwellers lived on hunting, fishing, cattle breeding and primitive cultivation of land.

Extreme diversity of animal and vegetal species

Some rare and interesting vegetal and animal species, especially birds and game, have found their place in the wetlands and peat bogs of the marshes, which were created by the tectonic movements and breaks and by river sedimentation.
Damp meadows are populated by 89 different species of gaily coloured butterflies. Hundred bird species, which is a half of all the bird species in Slovenia, nest in the area. The number is even higher if we count all the species that come to the Ljubljana Marshes to spend the winter there or stop on the marshes on their way to some warmer places.

The marshes are a refuge for several endangered species on the European and global scale and some other rare species such as the Corncrake (Crex Crex), the Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), the Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix), the Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), the Euroasian Scops Owl (Otus scops), the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), the Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) and the Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus).

An architectural particularity: the architect Plečnik’s church in the village of Črna vas

The Church of St. Michael in Črna vas, which was designed by the architect Jože Plečnik and built between 1937 and 1940, is the most beautiful architectural monument on the Ljubljana Marshes. The bearing capacity of the soil is weak, so the church had to be built on 350 eight-meter long piles.

Plečnik decorated its interior in an original manner but at the same time, with a feeling for a folk architecture. His creations such as an altar in the shape of a closet and a beautiful wall clock are very original.

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