January 18, 2017
Perched on a hill on the Jelovica Plateau with the Kamnik alps and Storžic mountain in the background is the church of Saints Primus and Felician, perhaps better known as the Church of St Primoz, in the little village of Jamnik, which might otherwise be passed off as just another hilltop village.
Jamnik Church is one of Slovenia’s most photographed views, and rightly so. Whether you are religious or not, you cannot deny that being up here makes you feel closer to God. The early Christian saints and missionaries certainly knew where to build their churches for maximum peace and inspiration. A view like this could convert even the most fervent atheist.
The church sits at 831 metres atop a bare green hill surrounded by forested hillsides and commands panoramic views of the Ljubljana Basin to the south, Kamnik Alps to the east, Karavanke Alps to the north and the Julian Alps to the west.
Like many churches in Slovenia, it’s lit at night so it’s a great location for dawn and dusk photos, especially when surrounded by morning mist.
From down below
You can get a clear view of the church from the motorway as you head north from Ljubljana. It’s visible just before and after the tunnel near Brezje. From a bus stop in Brezje you can take a photo if you have a good telephoto lens. I often stop here at dusk on the way back from Bled to photograph it with a 400mm. These are my two favourites so far:
The illuminated beacon of the Jamnik church of Saints Primus and Felician seen from the roadside in the village of Brezje
From this viewpoint the church looks like a beacon shining bright for all to see at night. And in actual fact, this hilltop was just that during the era of the Ottoman raids when locals lit a big fire on the hill to warn everyone in the surrounding area of an impending attack.
From the top
To get to the church, head north from Ljubljana on the motorway towards Kranj and Jesenice, take the exit for Brezje and head towards the iron-forging village of Kropa. Here, go straight through and drive up the twisty hill that follows. At the top of the hill you’ll be in Jamnik, and you won’t be able to miss the church on the left. If there is space, you can park at small layby on the corner from where the footpath to the church starts. There’s also an interesting, less photographed, view through the trees to the church here:
View from the layby of Jamnik Church
There is a layby further along that is usually lined with firewood. You can park here. This is the most popular viewpoint for photographing the church. From here you get a lovely view of the church with the Kamnik Alps and Storžic Mountain behind it. Many of the photos you see will have been taken from this viewpoint, including this one:
Jamnik church from the most popular viewpoint
However, there is another viewpoint on a little gravel road just below, so head down the steps from the first layby and at the sign at the bottom go right and walk along the gravel track. From this point the church and the mountains are more in line.
The church is really well lit, so perfect for the twilight shots
From May through the summer the sun will rise from behind the Kamnik Alps. If you time it right, and get the right position then some spectacular photos can be made. The photo at the top of this post was taken end of May, and the ones below was taken early July.
Jamnik church at sunrise, Kamnik Alps and Storžic in the background
The path towards the church also provides some great viewpoints, especially from this tree:
Church through the tree
Sun rising beside the church
One of my workshop participants heading back
From a different perspective
Although the church best shot in the morning or evening, it’s also good to photograph at any time of the day, when there is some good cloud around:
Or when there is fresh snow on the mountains. The photo below was taken from the roadside further along just past the village.
Jamnik church of Saints Primus and Felician, perched on a hill on the Jelovica Plateau with the snow-capped Karavanke Alps in the background, Slovenia. The alps have a fresh coating of snow on them after a 3 weeks of September rain.
Of course, although the church is the main attraction here, the views of the surrounding hills are also great. You can see many other little hilltop churches from this viewpoint, such as Sveti Jost near the city of Kranj:
The green hills around Jamnik on a summer morning and a view across to the church of Sv Jost above Kranj, Slovenia
Jamnik is easy to reach by car. If you like to hike, you can also park your car in the village of Kropa and hike the walking trail up to the church.