A CLOSER LOOK
|Surroundings of Jesenice|
Lying just across the border from Austria in the valley of the Sava River in the far north-west of Slovenia, Jesenice is a city surrounded by natural beauty, with famous tourist destinations Lake Bled and Kranjska Gora just a stone's throw away.
Jesenice is best known for its ironworks, once being an ice-hockey powerhouse, as well as the white daffodils, called ključavnice, that grow wildly in the surrounding valley.
Asides from ice-hockey, Jesenice and its immediate surroundings maintain a proud sporting tradition with over 90 Olympic athletes originating from the region.
The history of Jesenice revolves around the ironworks which are still situated in the city today. The oldest mention of the city dates back to 1381, when the name appears on a set of mining right issued to the Carinthian counts of Ortenburg.
Until the arrival of rail at the end of the 19th century, Jesenice could only be reached via a gravel road. In addition to mining and ironworking, inhabitants made a living from agriculture and stockbreeding.
The end of World War I brought about major political changes, and with the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918, new markets were opened. Due to its border position, Jesenice became an important traffic junction, whilst the development of the ironworks continued.
Following World War II, Jesenice experienced a new economic golden age. The ironworks became one of the main steel manufacturers tasked with rebuilding the newly-founded Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and started employing more people than ever. Many new industrial buildings were built. At its peak in the 1970s, the ironworks employed more than 8,000 people.
During this period of prosperity, Jesenice began to develop into its present shape. With the population increasing significantly, cultural, sports, educational, medical and traffic infrastructure to support the new arrivals were consequently developed.
Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, the importance of the ironworks began to wane, with the plant now only employing approximately 1250 people.
Stara Sava is in the centre of Jesenice, built at the confluence of the Sava River and the Ukova mountain stream. It is characterised by the iron-making roots of the city, visible at almost every step. It has all the essential elements of an iron foundry settlement: a manor, church, residential house for workers, a blast furnace with ancillary facilities, and a mill. All the facilities have been preserved on a relatively small area, and, in addition, the area now also hosts a museum, as well as cultural and tourist activities. The facilities are connected by a square, which has been renovated to become a popular meeting place and venue for concerts.
|Jesenice is famous for the white daffodils that grow in the region|
Built in 1538 by Italian businessman Bernanardo Bucelleni, a recently relocated industrialist who dominated the iron mining and processing operations in the upper Sava Valley, the Ruard Manor passed through a number of hands before coming upon its modern use in 1954: the Upper Sava Museum. The museum houses an iron-making collection with a presentation of models of settlements and facilities. In addition, the exhibition includes several objects, which belonged to local foundry workers, charcoal burners and blacksmiths. There is also a collection of fossils and rocks from western Karavanke.
Church of St. Mary's Assumption and St. Rocco was erected by the Bucellenis and consecrated in 1606 by Tomaž Hren, Bishop of Ljubljana. It is known for its high altar, constructed of black marble.
Kasarna is a late Baroque building dating from the end of the 18th century. During the Napoleonic wars, it served as barracks for French soldiers and later on it was turned into flats for workers' families. The building was completely renovated in 2005. Nowadays it houses the Jesenice Music School and Gornjesavski muzej Jesenice. Within the building there is a reconstructed worker's flat from the pre-World War II period, showing the lifestyle of iron making families in the former Jesenice workers settlement.
The Kolpern Warehouse, which is the only remaining building next to what was the iron works blast furnace, was renovated in 2009 and is now used as a facility for protocol and cultural events, which can be held in two halls.
Zois' Park in the Karawanke Mountain Range is full of traces of ancient life. Petrified flora and fauna; cultural heritage; spruce tree forests and a forest learning path; an emerald green lake; Karl Zois' botanical garden; and the proximity of mountain paths ensure visitors of all ages will not run out of things to do in this park. The park is named after Karel Zois who found a yellow flowering pansy here. He sent it to a friend in Klagenfurt, who drew it and called it Zois' bellflower. It can only be found in the Karavanke Range, most commonly on the slopes of Belščica and Stol.
|Mezakla natural bridge|
In May the slopes of western Karavanke are covered in white daffodils, called ključavnice by local people. Most of them grow in the meadows amongst the villages Plavški Rovt, Prihodi, Planina pod Golico and Javorniški Rovt.
Mežakla Natural Bridge is an interesting phenomenon caused by water and the uneven disintegration of rocks. 15 metres long, eight metres high and three metres wide, the elegant limestone arch is located on the northern edge of the Mežakla plateu.
Situated on the sunny side of Karavanke and offering fantastic views over Julijske Alpe, the nearby peaks of Vanjež, Golica and Hruški vrh are excellent for hiking and mountain biking trips. There are also abundant mountain routes across the Mežakla plateau, from where you can enjoy splendid views over Karavanke. There are many cycling routes in the Jesenice municipality that connect the city to surrounding towns. They are appropriate for families as well as recreational sportsmen.
Address: Ledarska 4, 4270 - Jesenice
|Croatian basketball legend Drazen Petrovic played one game for Jesenice. NBA Europe/Getty Images|
Although Jesenice is best known for its ice hockey team, basketball is also very popular.
Jesenice has a 60-year-long basketball tradition, with the hosting of EuroBasket 2013 helping mark the anniversary celebrations.
Even though KK Jesenice is only competing in the 3rd division of Slovenian club basketball, one of the rising stars of European basketball Rašid Mahalbašić, member of Asseco Prokom Gdynia and the Austrian national team, started his basketball career in Jesenice.
In 1983 Yugoslavian basketball legend Dražen Petrović played one game for Jesenice, scoring 26 points. Other well-known basketball players from the Upper Sava valley include all-time leading scorer for the Slovenian national team Teoman Alibegović; Miha Zupan; Saša Dončić; Ludvik Bunderla; Marko Božič; Vaso Vujačićthe father of Saša Vujačič; Sabina Felc; and Zora Malacko.
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO EAT
In Jesenice, you can find a lot of different restaurants in a small area. If you are searching for traditional Slovenian cuisine, Kmečki turizem Betel in Planina pod Gorico; Restaurant Ejga; and Inn Pastel come highly recommended. Along the main road in Jesenice you can dine at Bistro Oaza, where you can enjoy various dishes. You can also find Mexican and Chinese restaurants in Jesenice.
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport is a hub in the region and connects Slovenia with the rest of Europe and the World. It offers direct connections to destinations in 15 of the 23 visiting countries at EuroBasket 2013. Jože Pučnik Airport is only 48 km from Jesenice.
Timetable of departures and arrivals
Local transport schedules
Jesenice has very good domestic and international road connections. Austria can be reached by the Karavanka tunnel whilst regional road R 201 leads from Italy. When coming from Ljubljana take motorway A2 which goes to Austria and further on to Germany.
Jesenice is an important railway junction, linking the town with neighbouring Austria and other European cities. There are daily trains to Nova Gorica and further on to Italy, whilst international trains from Belgrade and Zagreb stop in Jesenice before continuing on their way to Germany and Switzerland.
Bus and coach traffic is well developed in Jesenice with numerous stops and connection to other Slovenian places.