Pot Ob Žici or the Trail Along The Wire is one of Ljubljana’s most famous tourist spots. The trail carries with it some of the most bitter memories of the city from days gone. Even then, the spirit of the people of Ljubljana gives this memorial trail a festive glow.
Pot Ob Žici, known as Pot spominov in tovarištva or The Trail of Remembrance and Comradeship, is an essential memorial walkway in Ljubljana. The 21 mi (33km) walkway represents the erected perimeter in the city during Fascist Italy’s invasion.
The Green Ring shows the solidarity and resilience of Ljubljana and its people. If you’re visiting, knowing the history of this historic site can give you a better appreciation of the people you’re seeing. Let’s take a look.
The Bitter History of Pot Ob Žici
The history of Pot Ob Žici is one of hardship and fortitude. Everything harkens back to the time when Germany suddenly marched to Ljubljana.
Germany declared war on then Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. Five days after, the Italian fascist army moved to Ljubljana. Many of the locals at the time wanted some type of resistance against the military, but local politics resulted in inaction.
Around the end of April, Osvobodilna fronta slovenskega naroda or OF formed. The OF stood up against the invading army with the support of the locals of Ljubljana. The OF came from remnants of various organizations. These include:
- Left-wing of the Sokols
- Communist Party of Slovenia
- Christian Socialists
The OF or Liberation Front was a minority at the time, with other parties deciding not to fight back. The focus of the resistance movement was the protection of Ljubljana. The Italian fascists determined as such, which prompted them to act fast.
The Isolation and Liberation of Ljubljana
At the end of February 1942, the fascists tried to make Ljubljana succumb and have the Resistance give up. To end the resistance, they enclosed the entire city with a barbed-wire fence. This fence physically isolated the town, separating it from the countryside.
To put it into perspective, the fence was 97319 feet (29,663 m). Ljubljana is no small municipality, even if it’s smaller than most cities. Almost 18 miles (~30 km) of barbed wire cut it off from the outside world.
Simultaneously, the barbed wire fence was as thick as it can be at the time. The wall was 262.5 feet (80 m) thick, making it impossible for anything to go in or out. The barrier itself had bunkers and watchtowers in between too.
Everyone who went in or out of the city came checked. Once Italy surrendered in September 1943, the Germans handle the entire invasion themselves. They increased their violence by unprecedented levels at the time.
By May 9, 1945, the Liberation Army went to Ljubljana to free its people and the town itself. By then, the entirety of Old Town had the barrier for 1,170 days. Once Autumn came, everyone removed the fortifications, trenches, and barbed wire.
Starting the Pohod Tradition
Pohod or the recreational march is an activity that people do to memorialize the city when it was inside the barbed wire fence. The Ljubljana District Committee of the Association of National Liberation Army Combatants proposed this event in 1957. It was for the first Slovene festival of physical culture.
The entire race an idea of comradeship for the citizens of Ljubljana. The people who proposed the event wanted the event to commemorate the enduring sacrifice of the people.
Men were supposed to run 21.7 miles (35 km) while the women will do a 5-mile (8km) run. The entire event was a relay, with teams of five working together to finish the course. 74 teams attended the event from different walks of life.
In the same year, the path known as Pot Ob Žici or Path along the Wire Fence of Occupied Ljubljana became the Pot spominov in tovarištva or The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship. It became a national monument with an act that notes an annual walk should happen every May 9.
The Pohod Today
The Pohod or recreational march on the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship has become an annual tradition among Ljubljana people. The event generated a wide variety of names again and again. Some names include:
- Along the Wire Fence of Occupied Ljubljana
- Along the Trails of Partisan Ljubljana
- Along the Trails of Liberated Ljubljana
- Embrace our Town — March
- The Wire Walk
Every year, people from across different walks of life participate and celebrate the event. Thousands of participants join the event for various causes. Many run in memorial of the event, with some walking along the path when they can.
The event generally concludes midday in Prešeren/Congress Square. It’s going to be a great time for tourists who will participate to see less famous but equally magnificent tourist spots. While the event itself is an annual affair, the path is only completed a little while after.
Creating the Physical “Path of Remembrance”
The actual physical “Path” came into completion in 1985 with the design of Vlasto Kopač. Since the liberation of the city until 1962, people kept memorial stones to mark the original bunker positions. These amounted to 102 memorial stones in total.
The Path itself is a moderately mild pedestrian lane at 13.1 feet (4m), almost 20.5 miles (33 km) long. It has a gravel path with many green areas in its locale. Up to 7,400 trees line the area, with as much as 49 tree species planted in the area.
The landscaping work came over the years, coming from youth groups within the city. It took hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to make it look the way it does today.
By 1988, the city proclaimed it as a unique historical monument. It’s green and beautiful even by world-class standards, and it’s a place worth a visit or two.
The area also has many vital fittings that help tourists travel the area. These include signboards, information areas, plaques, flag poles, and more.
People can ride their bikes, provided that the pedestrians take precedence. Most people, however, prefer to jog and walk for the full experience.
What To Do When You Visit The PST
When visiting the PST, you’re bound to see many different tourist spots. It’s a great way to see much of what Ljubljana has to offer if you’re not yet sure what place you want to visit. An expert tour guide will start you at 0 KM, at the crossroad of the Gruda company building in Tržaška Cesta street.
As you run, you’ll see the western area of the path itself. It’s home to the Faculty of Biotechnology for the University of Ljubljana. Nearby, you’ll see the Ljubljana Zoo peaking from Rožnik Hill with all its beautiful wildlife.
The general area has a ton of trees lining it, with a lush promenade. As you move further, you’ll see the stream of Pržanec, where families can visit the pond. There are also playgrounds in the general area and benches near the memorial stones.
The trail itself is mostly flat, with the most demanding area near the Golovec Hill and the Grba quarter. If you go through Golovec Hill, you’ll see the Fužine Castle. For those who have time, Fužine Castle is the locale where the Architectural Museum of Ljubljana stands.
Moving forward to the north, you’ll encounter Žale cemetery and the works of Jože Plečnik. While it seems weird to see architectural masterpieces here, they are worth the view. The cemetery also has many important figures in the history of Slovenia as a whole.
The trail will then cut into the cityscape as you keep moving. From the idyllic trees, you will see how current Ljubljana lives, for better or worse. The north and south sides are urban and residential spaces, while the west and east end are tree lines.
There are also many restaurants, bars, cafes, and snack area in the general vicinity. You can also use the trail as a way to bring you to different places in Ljubljana. Bus routes stop near the path, together with bicycle rental areas.
If you visit during the winter, the path itself has cross country ski tracks near Koseze, Murgle, the BS-3 residential area, and in Zadvor, at the foot of Sv. Urh hill. Koseze Pond also becomes a natural ice skating rink.
During the summer, the Koseze Pond is home to a variety of events and contests. You will find modeling contests and other local events.
Whether you call it Pot Ob Žici, Pot spominov in tovarištva, or PST, it is the same. It represents the strength and tenacity of the people of Ljubljana. It remembers the time when foreigners tried to isolate Ljubljana from the world and how it stood the test of time.
Whether you’re a Slovene or a tourist, you’ll appreciate how beautiful and historic the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship. It carries the fire within Slovene’s spirit, the will of freedom and never giving up.
If you’re visiting Ljubljana, it’s best to bring a tourist guide with you. A local expert can tell you more about the wonderful history of this once oppressive path. There’s more to it than a simple route, and that’s for you to discover.
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