A seasonal delight: Spring Bloom Of Velika Planina Purple Crocuses
Just 30 minutes north of Ljubljana, above the city of Kamnik, you can transcend into a very different world of alpine pastures, cows and herdsmen’s villages.
In April – everyone’s waiting for blooming crocuses
At the end of winter, when the high snow melts away, Velika Planina is also a site of a an exceptional occuring. Spring hikers, tourists and nature enthusiasts rush to see this one-time a year event – blooming of spring crocuses, offering a rare »Japanese cherry-blossom« kind of spectacular image.
With their purple and violet colours, crocuses are a much-awaited sign of spring for many Slovenes, appearing long before most other plants start to grow. Therefore, regular Velika Planina visitors carefully watch over the meadows to spot the first purple heads of the crocuses, as their flowering is short-lived.
The main bloom traditionally happens in the second half of April, but it all really depends on the weather conditions. Once the glorious spring crocuses are out for the world to admire their beauty, two weeks at most is the time to catch the glimpse of them.
The crocuses first appear in the lower mountains, then they are gradually flourishing in higher meadows. During the first days it takes a bit an effort to find the purple patches. But at the peak of their bloom they are everywhere, creating a wonderful flower carpet across the hills and meadows of Velika Planina.
According to locals these gentle highland flowers come to the mountain to be seen only by those who mean well to them. Which is their way of telling us that they should be left where they are and be appreciated in their own environment.
Did someone mention Lord of the Rings?
Many say that the scenic high mountain plateau Velika Planina (Big Pasture Plateau) looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. Here is where you can roll back in time and watch the herdsmen tend their cattle (mid-June through September), taste some homemade mountain cheese (local speciality is the trnič cheese) and have a bowl of hearty steaming soup or »žganci« (dish of boiled flour, shredded and sprinkled with melted fat).
Culture-seekers will be happy to learn there is something for them to admire on Velika Planina, as well. Though very small, wooden Chapel of Our Lady of the Snow (Kapela Marije Snežne) which is located just above the settlement, has quite a story. Skeched by noone else but Slovenian modernist architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), it was first built in 1939 by the shepherds and dairymaids of Velika Planina.
But the original chapel was burnt down in the Second World War along with 100 other wooden dwellings. Not very different in design, except for a smaller belfry, the present-day chapel was built in 1988. The church holds midnight mass every winter, and Sunday masses during summer months.
In the two-room Preskar Hut Museum along the way, a story about the famous local trnič cheese is told. While away from their wifes and girlfriends for the summer, the herdsmen’s idea of showing their love and fidelity was by making the cheese in a shape of women’s breasts – this is the reason why trnič cheese always comes in pairs.
More lifestyle and interesting folklore facts are to be learned in this tiny museum in the highlands of Slovenia.
Accesible by cable car or well marked hiking trails, Velika Planina is where you can come to fill the lungs with the mountain air and take in the stunning views of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Ljubljana Basin. Over night stays or spending more days here is possible too, as some huts are rentable.
CONTACT & INFO
Kamnik Tourism, Sports and Culture Agency
Glavni trg 2, 1241 Kamnik
Web page: www.visitkamnik.com
Featured head photo: Wandering Helene