STA, 6 February 2019 - A debate on problems in primary healthcare is heating up. Overburdened and understaffed, health community centres are looking for solutions but the one most recently proposed by the health minister has upset trade unions as well as nurses.
The problem of GPs being overburdened and underpaid has escalated to the point that in one health community centre, in Kranj, primary healthcare can no longer be provided to all residents.
Last week, the community centre notified citizens that GPs cannot accept new patients there and advised them to find their GP outside their city.
Responding to the situation there, Health Minister Samo Fakin proposed yesterday that GPs be paid according to the number of patients they have. "We already have this model in private healthcare and it's working," he said.
Although Fakin said trade unions had informally agreed with the proposal, the FIDES trade union of doctors and the Praktikum trade union of GPs rejected this.
Moreover, the minister upset nurses, who felt the minister ignored their problems completely, as well as the Association of Private Doctors and Dentists, who said that more patients always meant poorer quality of treatment.
Praktikum said that a new system of rewarding had been mentioned as a possible solution at one of the meetings with Fakin but "we told the minister this could be seen as an initiative to conduct work less professionally".
"No pay will reduce the burden on GPs. We will also propose to the minister to restrict the financing of work that exceeds professional standards," Praktikum said in a press release.
The trade union also proposes changes to the system of financing, cutting the red tape, and flexible hiring, especially in rural areas.
"We understand the minister is in a tough spot, being restricted by the political will in parliament and being unable to offer systemic solutions by himself. We need systemic measures to increase interest in family medicine and improve the chances of GPs staying in an area."
FIDES too called for honouring standards and norms with vice president Janusz Klim saying that the ministry, the ZZZS public health fund and health institutes had failed to take the necessary steps to implement the standards and norms from the 2017 strike-averting agreement.
Commenting on the situation at the Kranj community health centre, Fakin said that 51 students would finish their GP specialisation this year, just as many next year and another 31 in 2021. Half as many GPs will retire so that the gap should gradually close, he said.
The last resort will be to follow the example of other European countries and open the door to doctors from EU and third countries, he said. According to Fakin, the ministry is also working on changes to the management of public health institutions act.
But FIDES and Pratikum believe that the situation will further deteriorate with the natural retirement of doctors. "With every specialist that leaves, we have 1,500 patients left without quality care."
This causes burnout among doctors in primary healthcare, which prompts doctors to leave their job and discourages young doctors from becoming GPs.
The trade unions therefore expect decisive measures from the government.
The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) has already called for an urgent session of the parliamentary Health Committee, where it also expects concrete solutions.
"Unless the government and the health minister tackle the situation soon, the whole system of primary healthcare could collapse in a few years," the NSi said, noting this would be the biggest problem in Slovenia's history.
STA, 5 February 2019 - As many as 702 native plant species or 20.3% of Slovenia's flora was stored in the seed bank of the University of Ljubljana's Botanical Gardens (Botanični vrt Univerze v Ljubljani) in 2018. Thus the country reached the global goal whereby every country should protect at least 20% of its native plants in seed banks by 2020.
The goal is set in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, a programme of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. Slovenia ratified the convention, the main global treaty governing biodiversity, in 1996.
To accompany the achieved goal, the Botanical Gardens published a book to present the tradition of Slovenian plant research as well as the collection and keeping of seeds, researcher Blanka Ravnjak told the press in Ljubljana on Tuesday.
The Botanical Gardens have collected seeds and grown plants from them since inception, also exchanging seeds with other botanical gardens, she explained.
The exchange of seeds has been documented ever since 1889, when the first list of seeds was printed.
Seeds are collected annually in the Botanical Gardens and broader, and are kept in paper bags stored in wooden cabinets. The dry storage contains seeds of around 3,000 different plant species in more than 120,000 paper bags.
But to prolong their longevity, some seeds have been kept in bottles in refrigerators and freezers at -18 degrees Celsius in the permanent seed bank since 2016.
It is in this permanent storage where the 702 native plant species are kept at the moment.
The Botanical Gardens have also selected seeds of 80 species "which are especially important for Slovenian flora", contributing them to the Millennium Seed Bank, the world's largest bank of its kind.
One focus this week is Friday, February 8th, which is Prešeren Day, or Slovenian Cultural Day (Prešernov dan, slovenski kulturni praznik). This marks the death of the country’s national poet in 1849 and has been a national holiday since 1991, the year the country declared independence. In addition to being a day off work for many, most public museums and galleries also have free entry, so check out that section below and see what’s available.
If you're not in town for the week of this guide (Feb 4 - 10, 2019) then you can see all the editions here, and you can enhance your stay in the city and impress or annoy friends and companions by learning some obscure facts about the city here, and the Castle here.
As ever, clicking on the venue names in the list below should get you more details with regard to the time, price and location, as well as other events on at this place in whatever week you're here. Finally, if there's something you want to promote in a future edition of What's on in Ljubljana please get in touch with me at flanner(at)total-slovenia-news.com
You can read about all the cinemas in town here, while a selection of what’s playing this week is below, and note that kid’s movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, so do check before driving out to a multiplex and dropping off the young ones if they can't understand Slovene. Parents should also pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, with special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station is showing, among other features, The Favourite, Women at War, Maria by Callas, The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear (dubbed into Slovene), Jack bestelt een broertje, Green Book, Climax andIgram, sem
Kinoteka – This revival cinema isn’t far from Kinodvor, at the train station end of Miklošičeva, is showing Eraserhead, Dogville and Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life. There’s also von Trier’s Antichrist and the very different Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
Kolosej - Recent arrivals at the multiplex out at BTC are Papillion, Taksi bluz, Serenity, a dubbed version of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Green Book and Vice. A little older, and perhaps leaving soon, are Mary Queen of Scots, Glass, The Mule, The Favourite, The Upside, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (dubbed), Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, Second Act, Južni veter, Aquaman, a dubbed version of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Grinch, A Star is Born and the #1 box office film of 2018 in Slovenia, Bohemian Rhapsody. New this week is Escape Room, opening Tuesday.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice and Green Book.
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, especially along the river, but there are still bars that stay open late and clubs were you can dance until dawn, and perhaps the best place to stumble across something interesting is the legendary Metelkova. Be aware it's a grungy kind of place and not for all tastes, but also that there's considerable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay cabaret to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Channel Zero – Thursday it’s Everything GOES, from 23:00 to 06:00, with party music from DJs Rope, Jerry, Sunneh, Fogy, and Stojc. Friday it’s the turn of Elektroliza: SYNC 24 (Cultivated Electronics), with dance music from Sync 24, Le Chocolat Noir, Ocular, And Nulla, and RGB on video. Saturday the third all-nighter of the week will be shaking the room with an event called Frag::ments w. HYDRO (Commercial Suicide / UK), where the music will be drum’n’bass, techstep, and neurofunk, which Wikipedia claims “emerged between 1997 and 1998 in London, England as a progression of techstep”.
Gala Hala – There seems to be no Dub Lab this week, but on Thursday there’s SOUL REBEL VII ★ Inna Soundsystem Style with a playlist that’ll include roots, dub, rocksteady, reggae, ska, drum’n’bass, jungle, hiphop, dubstep, and more. Friday thing move up in tempo with Wave Riders! This will bring the sounds of electroclash/leftfield and house/techno to clubbers, with the mixes coming from Torulsson and Kobayashii.
Klub Cirkus – Three all-nighters at the end of the week, starting on Thursday with Ice Cold pres. Zonderling (Tomorrowland, Spinnin, Hexagon). Friday it’s an RnB Explosion with fresh anthems and classics cuts with DJ Dej and DJ Martee. Things come to a head on Saturday with Tutti Frutti - Slovenska edicija, playing Slovenian dance hits from the hands of Matthew Z and Matteo Kunst.
Klub K4 – Thursday night it’s Just Us x Spaced, headlined by Joe Delon. Two events on Friday – 18:00 to 21:00 there’s an Ableton Live workshop, then an all-nighter from 23:00 on called Gibanica, with the electronic music provided by Deconstructor Live (Destruktura), Urban Jeram (REMM), Herman K (Machine City), Thomas L (Sw:idr) and Izza. Saturday the fun continues with a night of electronic dance and hip hop called KROM w/ Traples, Tikach, and YNG Firefly.
Cankerjev dom – Monday evening Dani De Morón - '21' will be bringing flamenco guitar accompanied by voices and dance. Tuesday it’s then Drago Ivanuša “Dviganje Glasu” and Leïla Martial “Baa Box”.
Kino Šiška – Wednesday, 20:00, the Igor Matković Quintet will be playing jazz to celebrate the release of a new album. Same time, next day, the stage will be occupied by the Austrian group Elektro Guzzi playing live techno, followed by a DJ set from Alleged Witches.
Klub Gromka – Thursday evening there’s Bernays Propaganda, Xaxaxa, 21 Vek, My Tear, and Vasko Atanasoski.
Ljubljana Castle – Friday, 21:00, Jazz at the Castle has The Dukes of Prunes playing the music of Frank Zappa.
Orto Bar – Wednesday night it’s Riffeater #7 w/ Jucifer, Asheraah, and TSO. Guitars and the heavy side of things return to the stage on Thursday, with Kadilnica of Death presenting Grob, Britof, and Smrt. And that’s that not all. Friday is Prešeren Day, in honour of Slovenia’s national poet, and Orto Bar is marking the 170th anniversary of the man’s death with two stages and a line-up of Eruption , Penitenziagite , Seul Océan , Vigilance , China_traffic , and Malorshiga. Saturday things then calm down a little, with Arstiđir (Iceland/Season of Mist). The video they’re promoting the show with is quite surprising – it’s the fourth one below. The same night you can enjoy Pence, a Queen tribute band. You can see them below, too.
Slovenska filharmonija – Friday, Prešeren Day, there are two family concerts taking place here, at 10:00 and 13:00.
Gledališče IGLU - IGLU Theatre – Saturday night this group is usually putting on an Englishimprov show somewhere in town, but it’s generally promoted after this is written, so check the Facebook before putting on your shoes.
Grand Hotel Union – The fancy hotel on Miklošičeva will have an evening of romantic arias on Monday, starting at 19:00, as performed by José Cura, Elvira Hasanagić and Monika Bohinec, with support from the SNG Maribor Symphony Orchestra. Then on the 6th, a Wednesday, the same venue is hosting The Queen’s Six vocal group.
Orto Bar – Tuesday night there’s stand-up with Antivalentinova StandUp predigra - BREZ censure. You have been warned
SNG Opera and Ballet – Stravinsky’s ballet Orphic Hymn is on here Wednesday and Thursday, 19:30, while opera fans should consider attending Smetana’s Bartered Bride, to be performed at 11:00 Monday and 18:00 Saturday.
Drogart is an organization that aims to minimise harm on the party scene, and offers drug-testing services and reports on their webpage. It’s in Slovene, but you can Google translate it or work things out yourself, and our story on the group is here. They recently published a story warning about three pills with very high contents of MDMA, with details (in Slovene) here. Also be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia, although CBD is allowed (here's a look at a store on Trubarjeva cesta).
You can find our Top 12 list of things to do with kids in Ljubljana here. If want to read more about the philosophy behind the wonderful House of Experiments look here, while our trip to the Museum of Illusions is documented here, and there’s always riverside walks, pizza and ice cream. With regard to the latter, take a look at our guide tosix places that serve good ice cream in winter.
Mini Teater Ljubljana – The season sees a lot of puppet performances for children, in Slovene, at this theatre not far from Križanke. The English schedule for the month is here.
Ljubljana Puppet Theatre - The puppet theatre near the Central Market and next to the Castle funicular has a full programme or shows, for children and adults, with the schedule here. A sample of some of the shows from several years ago is below.
If you want to learn more about Ljubljana Pride, then take a look at our interview with its president here. If you're looking for more general links on "gay Slovenia", including a history of the scene and various projects, then you can find that here, while our stories about the community can be found here.
Klub Monokel– This lesbian bar in Metelkova is open every Friday, and this week on Thursday there's also Druga redna skupščina, while on Saturday night it's open as a bar again.
Klub Tiffany – And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00. On Thursday, 20:00, there's Kavarniški večer: Rave.
Pritličje – This seems to be the only "always open" LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space in town, and perhaps the country, so it's a good thing it's such a good one, open from morning to night, and with fliers and posters letting you know what's happening outside the narrow confines of, say, a general interest online what's on... guide.
The city’s main attraction is said to be the top tourist draw in the country overall, and to my mind it earns a spot near the top just for the history and views. But beyond that the current owners, the City of Ljubljana, have laid out a varied, interesting and enjoyable programme of events, one that rewards regular revisits.
I try and get up there every Saturday morning to clear my head and move my feet on the trails, and never tire of that end of the hill. At the other end, where the Castle sits, there’s a lot more than fresh air on offer. There are guided tours, restaurants, a café, Castle museum, puppet museum, a Watchtower you can climb to the highest point in the city, art shows, dances, live music, movies under the stars, festival days and more – enough to reward multiple trips up the hill through the year. All of these activities and events can be found on the Castle website, while on TSN you can see “25 things to know about Ljubljana Castle” here, and “Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle” here.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square also has an exhibition on the writer Ivan Cankar that’s on until the end of February 2019, with pictures, books and manuscripts, all presented in Slovene and English. It also has a very interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my visit here. Until March 2019 there's a show highlighting the work Elza Kastl Obereigner (1884-1973), a pioneer Slovenian sculptress, with an example of her work shown below.
Photo: M Paternoster
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, while paintings, drawings, prints and from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game. The latter is being promoted with the following image.
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, and until March 25, 2019, has a show on Ljubljana and it's relation with water. Until February 24 visitors can enjoy Toasted Furniture, which presents some experiments with the reuse of plastic waste, and until February 28 there's a show on Oskar Kogoj and his chairs.
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement. Running until March 31 is a major show on young Slovenian painters, Time Without Innocence – Recent Painting in Slovenia, where you’ll see works like the following. You can read about my visit here (I loved it).
Iva Tratnik, Mating Season Totalitarianism, 2014, oil on canvas, 210 x 194 cm
Tina Dobrajc, The Balkan Saga II, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. Running until February 10 2019 is a show called Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926): But Of Course, Painting Is Something Beautiful!, featuring works like the one below. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ageshere, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more, with the big draw this season being the exhibition of over 140 items of gold from Ming Dynasty China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.
Photo: Wang Wei Chang
Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household items.
Natural History Museum – On until the end of June 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Union is "the Ljubljana beer", but now both it and Laško are owned by Heineken. There are many local brews on offer around town, though, if you want to explore IPAs, stouts, wheatbeers, sours and so on Photo: JL Flanner
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljanahere.
If you'd like to spend an evening painting with others, then take a look at Design with Wine, which organises painting parties on Trubarjeva cesta,
If you want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here. The man behind it, Jaka Prijatelj, has a fine eye for life on this street, as you can see on his Facebook account.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you’re in town and want to go jogging or walking in nature, why not take another look at the Castle, with a brief guide to the trails here. If you want something bigger, head to Tivoli Park.
And if you're bored with the Old Town, why not take a walk, cycle or boat ride to nearby Špica and enjoy the riverside life. Learn more about that here.
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia. Note that these close when the snow starts, if it ever does this year, in which case you might be interested in what's new at Slovenia's ski resorts for 2019, as reported here.
If you want to get a Ljubljana Tourist Card, which gives you travel on the city buses and entry to a lot of attractions, then you can read more about that here, and if you want to use the bike share system, as useful for visitors as it is for residents, then you can learn more by clicking this. Visitors with reduced mobility will be pleased to find that downtown Ljubljana is generally rated as good with regard to accessibility, and that there’s a free, city-sponsored app called Ljubljana by Wheelchair highlighting cafés, attractions and so on with ramps, disabled bathrooms and Eurokey facilities, which you can read about and download here. Manual wheelchair users can also borrow, for free, an attachment that will motorise their equipment, as reported here.
Screenshot from a Twitter video
If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
There aren't many places to eat after midnight, and most of them are by the train station, as reported here.
STA, 30 January 2019 - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec has backed efforts by winegrowers from the Slovenian region of Brda to protect the Rebula wine together with fellow Italian winemakers across the border.
The Rebula vine is grown on some 25% of all vineyards in Brda, a region near the city of Nova Gorica on the border with Italy.
The Rebula wine is thus synonymous with Brda and is also grown on the Italian side of the hilly Brda.
What bothers the Slovenian farmers is that Italian winegrowers from the Padua Valley also grow this vine.
But due to a different climate, the same vine produces a different wine taste, wine company Klet Brda director Silvan Peršolja explained on Wednesday.
Growing Rebula in Brda is much harder than in the valley, where it is planted in sand as opposed to a marl-rich soil on the hills of Brda and in the Vipava Valley in Slovenia.
"We also kept Rebula when Chardonnays, various Pinots and other varieties of wine dominated the market," said Peršolja.
Now that Rebula is gaining ground globally, there are some who have never known Rebula in their entire lives who would like to take advantage of it, he said.
"The Rebula from low-lying areas does not reach the quality of the Rebula from Brda, what they have in common is only the name," said Igor Simčič, one of the leading winegrowers from Brda.
The winegrowers from Slovenia's Brda thus launched a debate with their colleagues from the Italian side of Brda to protect Rebula at the international level a few years ago.
However, protection procedures are rather long and it could already be too late in a few years' time, so prompt action should be taken, the farmers told Pivec.
The minister pledged her support for their efforts to join forces with the winegrowers from the Italian side of Brda.
She visited Brda to discuss various challenges faced by the local winegrowers and other farmers, including more efficient drawing of EU funds, where the farmers highlighted red tape as the biggest problem.
STA, 30 January 2019 - Ment Ljubljana, a three-day tour de force featuring some of the most promising acts of Europe's independent music scene, gets under way in the capital tonight. As many as 75 up-and-coming acts will perform at multiple venues, while the conference segment of the festival holds a lot of promise as well.
The fifth edition of the showcase festival will kick off with a programme-packed night at Kino Šiška, an expected highlight being the concert by Iranian-Dutch performer Sevdaliza, whose debut album has has won her widespread acclaim.
Ment will expand to a total of nine venues in the city on Thursday and Friday, an element that has helped it create quite a splash in the capital in the past years.
The venues include multiple clubs at the Metelkova Mesto alternative arts centre, Orto Bar, the Old Power Plant and K4.
MENT has arranged a 68-track video playlist to show you the artists in action, which starts autoplaying above
What the organisers labelled the "winter festival of music creativity" also provides a welcome promotional platform for Slovenian acts and DJs, with as many as 21 featured this year.
The list includes the "dream trip-hoppers" JUNEsHELEN, electro rockers Kontradikshn, the Canyon Observer, labelled as doom and black metal, and the experimental electro act Warrego Valles.
Ment also invests a lot of effort in providing networking opportunities and in the conference segment of the festival.
The schedule includes a panel entitled How to Escape the Showcase Bubble, which will question the role of showcase festivals, their many focuses, and especially the role of creators in this increasingly popular event discipline.
The full schedule can be found here, while all the details of all the artists can be found here, with videos just another click or tap away. The festival is also on Facebook, and has both Android and IoS apps
STA, 30 January 2019 - Boris Kobal, the author exposed for plagiarising an Italian play, acknowledged what he described as the "stupidest thing" in his life in an apology sent to the STA on Wednesday, citing personal distress as the reason.
"You wonder why at the age of 63 I committed such an unacceptable act? The reason is a deep personal distress I have found myself in," Kobal, a popular comedian, says in the letter.
The response comes after his comedy about a family of professional criminals was exposed as a mere translation of La Prova Generale by Italian playwright Aldo Nicolaj (1920-2004).
The play has been removed from the repertoire of the SLG Celje Theatre and the theatre filed a criminal complaint against Kobal, claiming EUR 13,000 gross back that Kobal was paid for the comedy.
Describing his distress, Kobal says that "in the name of the 'theatre god'" he neglected a great part of his life and "ended up in loneliness and bitterness", succumbing to depression a few years ago.
"Despite professional aid, the depression only deepened over the past few years," Kobal, an actor, director and TV host, says in the letter.
"In this distress I made the stupidest thing in my life: I signed my name under someone else's work. There is no excuse in this respect and I will bear all the consequences," he says.
"I would like to apologize to the Slovenian public for acting in a wrong way. Having translated another author's work and signed my name under it was not right. I also acted wrong by retreating into silence and by failing to explain to the Slovenian public what is going on."
He also expresses remorse for the hurt he had caused to the "excellent" SLG Celje Theatre cast with Jaša Jamnik, the director of his play, at the forefront. "If they can forgive me, I'll be grateful. If not, I'll understand."
Commenting on his late reaction, Kobal says: "The greater the public pressure, the more I shut myself in. The more questions from journalists, the more I sunk into my black hole ... I was shutting my eyes waiting to wake up from a nightmare.
Kobal concludes his letter by saying that he had already returned the full fee he received for the play to SLG Celje Theatre.
In 1810 the French army seized and then executed a group of bandits called rokovnjači, who had previously attacked them in Črni Graben.
The first wave of this organised banditry in central Europe occurred during and after the 30-year War (1618-1648). The rokovnjači problem in what is today Slovenia was particularly pressing between the years 1808 – 1813 during the French occupation of these territories, when the bandits were even assisted by the Austrian court, and then after Austria regained its territories from Napoleon’s army the problem turned on her in an ever stronger fashion between the years 1825-1853. Rokovnjači were most numerous in Upper Carniola and in the Kamnik area, but could also be found in the Littoral.
The main causes of the phenomenon lay in the 1770 Maria Theresa decree which replaced her army of mercenaries with a 30-year period of military service for everyone poor and uneducated enough not to be able to avoid it, and the 1785 Joseph II abolition of serfdom, which freed the serfs not only from their masters but also from their land. These young deserters who were later joined by a variety of other social outcasts joined the ranks of rokovnjači, and lived lives revolved around hiding in the remote places of dark forests and their night hikes to towns and villages, where they begged, robbed, and terrorised the population.
The name Rokovnjači, sometimes also rokomavhi, comes from the folk belief that these bandits carried an arm (roka) of an unborn baby in their bags (mavha) which would then give them some magic powers such as make them invisible when in trouble or giving them a light in the dark that only them could see. It was believed that rokovnjači would cut babies out of pregnant ladies, chop their arms off and then dry them over a juniper berry wood fire, which is why no pregnant woman was allowed to wander around on her own. Belief in the magic of a child’s arm was not only present in the area of present-day Slovenia but, just like rokovnjači themselves, across Southern Germany and Austria as well. Jakob Grimm – the elder of the two famous brothers – describes in his book on German mythology (Deutsche Mithologie, 1835) the magic properties of the fingers of a pre-born baby; if they are set on fire the resulting flame would put everyone in a house to sleep, preventing them from waking up.
It was not against the interests of rokovnjači to be feared among the locals, who preferred to cooperate and support them in goods and information than to risk violent repercussions. On the other hand, they also tended to be helpful in poor farmers’ fights against the various forms of exploitation coming from the church, landowners and forceful conscriptions. Rokovnjači were well organised, which included a sort of a proto-Marxist ethics – that theft was justified by the ideas of equality and the right to survival. They also had their own secret language, which was a mix of various European ones, including German, Italian, Hungarian, Croatian and Slovenian. For example, “Ti lobov kumer'č, d'tej prefak upetov!” stood for “Ti slab človek, da ti je duhovnik ubežal!” (You bad man, let the priest escape you!).
In 1810 rokovnjači attacked and robbed a group of French soldiers in the Črni graben valley, which was a reason for the French army to retaliate. Not all of them were caught, but those that were were hung on today’s date in 1810. On February 12, Napoleon decided to establish gendarmerie stations in the most affected areas, known by the locals as “ravbarkomanda”.
In the third wave of banditry between the years 1825 and 1853, rokovnjači multiplied to the point the skirmishes began even among their own ranks. The affected population began to beg the authorities to do something about it. In 1850 the long awaited hunt of Austrian gendarme for the out-of-control bandits began. The new imperial decree, which reduced the military service to eight years in 1845 and again to six years in 1850, helped to reduce their ranks as well. No more was heard about rokovnjači after 1853.
A novel Rokovnjači (1881), written by Josip Jurčič and Janko Kersnik, continues to serve as an inspiration for various stage adaptations, one of them, a coproduction of the National Theatre of Nova Gorica and Prešeren Theatre Kranj, is embedded in the video below.
STA, 29 January 2019 - Scoring 60 points, Slovenia ranked 36th among 180 countries in Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) rankings for 2018, a drop of one point and two spots from 2017, respectively. The country has thus made no major progress since 2012, TI Slovenia said in a release on Tuesday.
Based on independent sources, the CPI ranks the countries according to how corrupt their public sectors are perceived to be.
The countries are ranked by scoring from 0 to 100 points, with 0 meaning the country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 that it is "very clean".
Commenting on Slovenia's placement, Transparency International (TI) Slovenia and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) highlighted the lack of will for systemic change which would result in a breakthrough in Slovenia.
Both pointed to the slow pace of adopting changes to the law on integrity and the prevention of corruption, with TI noting that after a lengthy government procedure, parliament was dissolved before it discussed them.
"We are waiting for these changes for a long time. Far too long," TI Slovenia boss Alma Sedlar was quoted as saying in a release, urging for systemic measures to effectively prevent corruption as soon as possible, including the changes to the umbrella integrity law.
Her view was fully echoed by the KPK, which however believes the shortcomings could only be eliminated by drafting a brand new law to regulate corruption prevention in a more efficient manner and give it more powers to take adequate action.
The Justice Ministry, meanwhile, responded by saying it would send the changes to the integrity law into government procedure in the first half of the year.
But it noted it was impossible to assess whether the lengthy process of adopting these changes directly affected Slovenia's CPI rankings.
It believes Slovenia has achieved "an expected result", having regularly placed around the 35th spot and having scored 57-61 points.
The ministry also highlighted the fact that the index measured whether the public sector was "perceived" as corrupted, not whether it was actually corrupt.
This reflects the level of trust in institutions promoting the rule of law in fighting corruption (KPK, prosecution or courts), it said.
The ministry also noted it had drafted changes to the criminal procedure law, the purpose of which was also to give law enforcement tools to prosecute corruption.
TI Slovenia boss Sedlar also noted that lobbying, the revolving-door phenomena and the protection of whistleblowers were still waiting to be systemically addressed.
There is also no progress in promoting integrity of top office holders, as parliament has not yet adopted a code of ethics for MPs, said Sedlar, a view also supported by the KPK.
Given that GRECO has urged the code's adoption, Sedlar believes failure to meet international recommendations puts all public institutions in a bad light.
Non-transparent and negligent use of public funds also affects the perception of corruption, TI Slovenia noted.
It also said that a comparison of the CPI and other indicators showed countries where press freedom was not guaranteed ranked lower.
There is also a link between the CPI and how much space civil society groups have to carry out their activity.
In its response to Slovenia's slipping two spots, the KPK said this exposed decision-makers' failure to act when institutions in charge discovered corruption.
"Thus not even flagrant cases such as the TEŠ 6 coal-fired power station have been addressed by the government and parliament in a manner that would reflect their zero tolerance to corruption," the KPK added.
Out of Slovenia's neighbours, only Austria placed higher on the CPI rankings, at 17th spot, while Italy placed 57th, Croatia 63rd and Hungary 64th.
Among the least corrupt countries in the world in 2018 were Denmark, which scored 88.1 points, New Zealand with 87.2 and Finland with 85.3.
The countries at the bottom are those where a war is raging or has ended, with Somalia placing 180th with 10 points.
STASTA, 29 January 2019 - Slovenia has slid one spot in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) compiled by the Insead Business School, Adecco temping agency and Tata Communication. The country ranks 29th out of 125 countries included in the survey, a spot down from 2018 and four spots down from the first GTCI index in 2013.
Slovenia scored 54.44 points, more than 27 points less than Switzerland, which tops the ranking. Yemen, placing last, got a score of 11.97 points.
While 29th overall, Slovenia ranks 19th in Europe. Interestingly, it is also one spot ahead of South Korea.
It ranks 38th in terms of enabling talent, 47th in terms of attracting talent from abroad, 34th in growing its own talent and 27th in terms of retaining talent.
The index also compares cities, with Ljubljana ranking 50th, after finishing 49th last year. This is the second time Ljubljana was included in the ranking of cities.
Adecco Slovenija said in a press release on Tuesday that there was a lot of room for improvement in terms of Ljubljana's connectivity to airports and simplification of hiring.
Readers may remember last year, when roadworks on Gosposvetska Street in Ljubljana uncovered a Roman cemetery (as reported here). Now archaeologists are starting to report on their findings in more detail, as seen in a new story from National Geographic. The article, which is titled "Archaeologists puzzle over mystery woman in early Christian cemetery" and can be read here, contains some excellent photographs of the excavation site and artefacts, as well as a brief account of Emona, the Roman city that was on the site of today’s Ljubljana. Of special interest is a 1,700-year old blue glass bowl, “decorated on the outside with grapes, and vine leaves and tendrils. A Greek inscription on the inside of the bowl instructs the owner to “Drink to live forever, for many years!””
Items from the Gosposvetska are now on display at Ljubljana City Museum, and from February 2 to March 31 (2019) you’ll be able to see the blue bowl yourself, as seen in the screenshot of the Museum's website below.
STA, 28 January 2019 - The Ljubljana municipality plans to increase the prices of several services provided by its companies, including public transport, parking fees in the city centre, and cemetery fees.
A single bus ticket would go up by 10 cents to 1.30 euro, Mayor Zoran Janković said at the city's news conference on Monday.
The city also intends to introduce an annual public transport pass, which would cost 365 euro, and an annual pass for pensioners, to cost 220 euro.
If the new prices are endorsed by the city council in February, they would take effect in April or May, the mayor said.
Peter Horvat, director of the city's public transport company LPP, said the goal was not to increase prices but the number of public transport users and the number of bus pass holders, from 70% at the moment to 90%.
Javni Holding Ljubljana director Zdenka Grozde said the services provided by Ljubljana's companies were of very high quality, comparable to other European cities.
"To attain such top quality services, investments into development, technology and infrastructure are needed," she said, thus revealing the reason for the price rises.
She said LPP had bought 168 new buses since 2007, which cost it 42 million euro, but had not changed ticket prices for eight years.
A rise in parking fees for parking lots in the city centre (zone one and two) by 10 centres per hour and in car parks operated by Ljubljana is also planned.
The hourly parking fee for the car park below Congress Square and for the Kozolec car park is to rise to 1.50 euro.
According to David Polutnik from the city's economy and transport department, this is to reduce the number of commuters in the city centre.
Mateja Duhovnik, who heads the company running the city's parking spaces, said parking fees in others zones would not change nor would they change for Ljubljana residents in car parks.
Meanwhile, the fee for a grave at Ljubljana's main cemetery is to rise by 10%.
Žale director Robert Martinčič said the city had intensively invested into expanding its cemeteries over the past few years, "which means we'll have new grave areas which will need maintenance".
If the first mountaineering successes took place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the second half of the latter saw the emergence of mountaineering organisations, which built mountain huts, marked and maintained trails, and brought mountaineering closer to the broader public.
Friends of Triglav
On Triglav, the first mountain hut (called Triglav Temple) was built in 1869 by Jože Škantar at the initiative of the local chaplain, Ivan Žan. The hut was part of the plan to establish the first Slovenian mountaineering organisation by some of the locals of Bohinj, who also sought to register the first Slovenian alpinist club, Friends of Triglav, in 1872. Unfortunately, just as the authorities returned the papers, demanding a change in the place of registration from ‘Bohinj’ to one of the villages in the area, Ivan Žan was transferred from Bohinj to Škofja Loka, and the six-day deadline to fix the problem was missed.
The aforementioned Triglav temple, a simple wooden hut, standing at the elevation of 2,401 metres, managed to defy the devastating forces of nature for about five years. Then, in 1877, Jože Škantar together with his son erected another, much stronger building, which was taken over by the merged German and Austrian climbing clubs (Deutscher und Österreichischer Alpenverein, DÖAV), and therefore also carried a German name, that is, Triglav Hütte. In 1911 Triglav Hütte became a property of the Austrian Tourist Club, which changed its name to Maria Theresien Haus and enlarged into its current size. The building changed its name again in between the World Wars, when it was called the Alexander hut. Only after the Second World War did the hut finally got its currently neutral name, Dom Planika (Edelweiss hut).
Pipe club and the Slovenian Mountaineering Society
Two decades passed before another attempt at a Slovenian mountaineering society (Slovensko planinsko društvo, SPD), which was finally formed in 1893. Meanwhile, trails and huts in the mountains were built and maintained by German and Austrian clubs for German and Austrian mountaineers.
In 1892, six Slovenian mountaineers from Ljubljana met at the Rožnik restaurant at the top of the Ljubljana hill with the same name, where they founded an informal club called Pipa (Pipe), since one of the many rules, most of them hardly to be taken seriously, was that all of its members had to be equipped with pipes, tobacco and matches, along the rule that members had to visit one of Slovenia’s mountains every Sunday, or at least walk to the top of Rožnik. They also put together a single copy of one issue of a newspaper with jokes and mountaineering stories, which was kept at the Rožnik restaurant for its members to read free of charge, while other visitors had to pay in order to do so.
Pipa club trip to Triglav, 1894
On one of their trips, Pipa members discussed the problem of German domination of their activity in the Slovenian mountains, which eventually resulted in the Slovenian mountaineering society, or Slovensko Planinsko Društvo (SPD hereafter), which was formally established in 1893 in Ljubljana. Numerous branches of this society emerged in other parts of the country in the years to follow, including its Radovljica branch in 1895, where one of the constitutive members was also a local priest – Jakob Aljaž, a name that still lives on the summit.
SPD begun marking the mountain trails and building its own huts, which Germans called huts of defiance, since they were often built just a few metres away from the German ones. From this defiance came the idea of Jakob Aljaž to purchase the top of Triglav and decorate it with a tower which would eventually bear the first writing in the Slovenian language in the entire Triglav massif area: Aljažev stolp.
The tower was designed by Aljaž himself, and manufactured by his friend, tinsmith Anton Belec from Šentvid (Ljubljana) in 1895. The tower was a metal cylinder with a metal flag bearing the year of its construction stuck to the top.
Parts were taken by train to Mojstrana and carried to the top of Triglav by a group of six strong men over a span of one week. It was then to be put together by Aljaž, Belec and three assistants. On the night of their final climb to the mountain the five rested in Deschmannhaus, one of the three huts on Triglav at the time, all run by the Carniolan section of the DÖAV, which fought against any bilingual signs on the mountain and also prioritised German climbers over Slovenian ones when they were looking for shelter in their mountain huts.
However, foggy weather cleared the mountain, which meant that the group could work at the top without being disturbed by potentially outraged bystanders. The fog, however, also meant that Aljaž decided not to climb to the summit but rather to “supervise” the construction from below by listening to the sounds of the hammers hitting brass. The tower was standing after about five hours of such work.
Once the tower was discovered the DÖAV was enraged and demanded its removal in a legal battle that was based on a claim that Aljaž had destroyed a triangulation point, which allegedly stood at the tower’s location. Aljaž on the other hand claimed that no such trig point was ever in the tower’s location, apart from a wooden pyramid which had been placed at the top 40 years earlier and destroyed by weather long before the tower was erected. His claims were eventually confirmed by a key witness, Captain Schwartz, who later asked Aljaž to allow a trig point’s information pergament to be placed under the tower, carrying information about its coordinates and the elevation point of its top, which effectively brought the tower under the Emperor’s protection. Later on Aljaž donated the tower to the SDP.
With the tower also came a song, which became the SDP’s official anthem. In 1894 a poem Slavin, written by Matija Zemljič, caught Jakob Aljaž’s eye, so he wrote music for it after which it became known as Oj, Triglav, moj dom. It has since been adopted as the official anthem of the Slovenian Mountaineering Association, and also serves as a basis for the fanfares starting and ending the Ski Jumping FIS Finals in Planica.
With the tower at the top Triglav thus became the main symbol of the Slovenian national identity.
Meanwhile, a struggle of another kind had emerged. SDP and its touristic culture of walking to the top of a mountain became too small to accommodate the emerging new culture of alpinism within one group. The peak of Triglav may have been conquered, but the battle for domination now opened at the mountain’s northern face, also known as Triglav’s northern wall.
Vrata Valley with Triglav’s Northern Wall, Photo: Javier Sanchez Portero, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0