Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, but you can encircle it in just a few hours. This relatively short but complete hike is a walk through History that also allows you to visit the city uniquely. The route is simple: you follow Pot ob žici.
Pot ob žici is, in English, the Trail Along the Wire. It is a 21 miles walkway surrounding the city of Ljubljana in Slovenia. The construction of the path dates back to World War II when Fascist Italy circled the city with barbed wire to prevent communication between Liberation Front activists.
The story of Pot ob žici is fascinating and perfect for tourists eager to learn its History. Let’s take a look at this trail to answer all the questions you might have to enjoy this beautiful walk through time.
What is Pot ob žici?
Pot ob žici, also referred to as the Trail of Remembrance and Comradeship (Pot spominov in tovarištva), the Trail Around Ljubljana (Pot Okoli Ljubljane), and the Green Ring (Zeleni prstan), is both a memorial and a recreational hike.
It is 21 miles long (or 33 kilometers) and 13 feet wide (4 meters). The car-free trail, hiding under the trees, is the best place for tourists and locals to take a walk, jog, or cycle. During winter, the city even transforms some areas into cross-country ski tracks.
If you would prefer to take a calm walk, head out early. In the afternoon are organized activities, and people come out to exercise.
You will find 7,400 trees planted along the path and the barbed wire fence and about 49 species of trees. Pot ob žici is considered a designed nature monument since 1988.
It will take you about three hours to go from Koseze Pond to Golovec Hill, enjoying the fresh air and keeping the memory of Ljubljana’s History alive.
The west and the east end are very green, while the north and the south are more city-like with a residential area.
Do not worry if you do not start at the “POT km 0” board located in the District of Vič near the Dolgi Most bus stop. You will still find points of interest to see and places to relax wherever you decide to start the trip.
Some parts of the trail are now built-in areas such as the part crossing Klagenfurt Street, Vienne Street, and around Stožice Stadium. However, it stayed mostly a gravel-paved path running along the fence.
Fascist Italy built this fence during World War II. Back then, Ljubljana was utterly surrounded and enclosed by wire, fortifications, and bunkers. Some of these constructions are still up nowadays, especially in the northern part of the capital.
Crossing Pot ob žici on foot can be a great experience. Nevertheless, Ljubljana is an ideal city to cycle, and the Green Ring is the best place to begin your Slovenian bike experience.
If you intend to do a small cycling ballad, rent a bike at the Tourist Information Center for a couple of euros per hour. You can also borrow one for free from the bicycle sharing system Bicikelj.
If you are looking for a more adventurous experience, you should consider renting a professional mountain or trekking bike to go smoothly through the 4 kilometers ascent and descent of the hill Golovec.
What is the History behind the Trail?
When Germany invaded Yugoslavia, on April 6th, 1941, Fascist Italy decided to enter Ljubljana on April 11th, 1941.
During World War II, at the end of February 1942, Ljubljana and its surroundings were enclosed by a barbed-wire fence built by this Fascist Italy. This fence aimed to prevent resistance and communication between the underground Liberation Front inside Ljubljana (formed on April 27th, 1941) and the Slovene Partisans outside the city.
The fence was reinforced with watchtowers and bunkers. It is surrounded by 206 fortifications of different uses and sizes. Fascist Italy checked meticulously everyone who wanted to enter or leave Ljubljana.
On September 8th, 1943, Fascist Italy capitulated, and Nazi Germany took power over the province of Ljubljana, which only raised violence and repression.
Ljubljana was liberated from this enclosure after 1,170 days when the Liberation Front came on May 9th, 1945. By autumn, people removed the wire barriers and destroyed the fortifications.
Nowadays, the path that goes along the fence is what we call the Trail of Remembrance and Comradeship. It was arranged for visitors between 1974 and 1985, adding plaques, memorial pillars, markers, and signposts.
The architect Vlasto Kopač designed 102 octagonal memorial stones for the trail. They are located where former bunkers were.
Information posts are planted everywhere for tourists and visitors to understand the History of the place better.
Why Should You Visit Pot ob žici?
When going to Ljubljana, you are probably wondering if Pot ob žici is a must-see. Although it might seem like a simple path through the forest, it actually is surrounded by many points of interest you will enjoy.
First, you will find the most extended tree-lined pathway located between the pond, the Zoological Gardens, and the Faculty of Biotechnology in the western part of the trail.
In this pond, you will also find traditional hayracks. They are freestanding vertical drying rack found almost entirely in Slovenia. These permanent structures mark the Slovene vernacular architecture that you must see when visiting the country.
In the same area, you will encounter a children’s park and a few memorial stones, along the stream of Pržanec.
Next to the Zoological Park, the Municipality planted trees as a symbol of peace, since 1997. It is called Friendship Park. The mayor of Ljubljana Dr. Dimitrij Rupel started this project and planted the first tree. Other Slovene statesmen and stateswomen, individuals, and societies planted the following trees.
You will find the Architectural Museum of Ljubljana on the side of Golovec Hill, one of the oldest European Museums of this kind. The Fužine Castle, where the Museum was established, is the only castle of the Renaissance still standing in Ljubljana.
Another point of interest is located in the northern part of the Trail, near Vojkova Cesta past Gramozna Jama. It is a monument designed by the sculptor Boris Kalin. This sculpture was made in memory of the 141 hostages shot during the war.
Next to the sculpture, you can spot the Žale cemetery, known across the world for its valedictory complex designed by the famous architect Jože Plečnik.
Although a cemetery does not seem like the ideal place for tourists to visit, the Žale cemetery is worth seeing. You will be surprised by its unique architecture and will be able to see the graves of many Slovene celebrities designed by sculptors and artists.
The March along the Wire
Since 1957, the closest weekend to May 9th each year has been held in March along the Wire (Pohod ob Žici). This tradition is a way to commemorate the Liberation of Ljubljana.
The Liberation of the province of Ljubljana from Fascist Italy was on May 9th, 1945. The barbed-wire fence surrounding Ljubljana is the most reliable memory of this time, which is why the Municipality of Ljubljana organizes this March.
May 9th is Day of Peace, formerly called Victory Day, and also Europe Day since Slovenia entered the European Union.
If you decide to do this walk, the point is to collect stamps at the eight checkpoints along the trail. If you do so, you will receive a badge and a medal as a souvenir and a memorial.
This event is also a way to promote exercising and healthy lifestyles, encouraging people to do the March and train beforehand.
The number of participants is getting higher every year, especially on Saturday. On Friday, the race begins with the March of preschool children, followed by primary and secondary schools.
Saturday is the biggest day. Everyone can participate in this March, and there is a three-member team run. This March is designed for everyone from 3 kilometers to 35 depending on their fitness and abilities.
The walking can begin at 6 in the morning and ends at 5 pm. You can register at any of the checkpoints along the trail (Vič, Šiška, Bežigrad, Jarše, Polje, Fužine, Rudnik, and Livada). These points of interest are where you will receive control stamps. If you can walk the entire 35 kilometers, you will earn a reward: a special medal.
On Saturday, you can also participate in a race meant for a three-member team run. All racers of a team must run at the same time and can enter different categories. You can race for 12.5km or 29 km, in the men/women race or the senior race. Children can also run a 3km race, especially for primary and secondary schools.
The point of a three-member team run is to encourage solidarity. Indeed, the team’s result will depend on the time of the last member to cross the finish line. To have a better result, teams must train together, cheer each other, and help less fit or prepared members.
A Walk Thru Memorial
Pot ob žici is the most important memorial of World War II in Ljubljana. This enormous trail, perfect for a jog or a walk with great sightseeing, will please both adults and children. Do not hesitate to walk along a part of the path, it will help you understand the History of Ljubljana, and there are still plenty of secrets to discover.