Houses, brimming with frescoes, are packed closely together on the slopes of the former pilgrimage Church of the 'Stricken' Mary.
When travelling on the motorway from Ljubljana, shortly before reaching Radovljica by the Ljubno tunnel, you can see a group of clustered houses on a slope. This is the village of Ljubno, which was once a centre of pottery.
Ljubno isn't just idyllic from afar. It leaves an even greater impression on the memory when you take time for a walk through the winding narrow streets that lead up towards the church. The old, and also newer, houses are adorned by numerous frescoes – there are few places that have so many in such a small area.
The majority of the frescoes were created in the last twenty years, and are the work of the acclaimed Russian artists Maša Bersan Mašuk and Nikolaj Aleksandovič Mašuk. The artists came to Slovenia in 1994 from Moscow and found their new home in Ljubno. With the help of locals, they renovated an old house and in gratitude, in addition to painting frescoes on their own house, they also did so on many of the other houses in the village. The couple still live and work in the village.
In the past Ljubno was Gorenjska's renowned centre for pottery; however, the trade died away in the 20th century. The memories of Ljubno bowls still live on, and locals are often still occasionally referred to as 'čpinarji' (potters). As with the Ljubno bowls, the church here bears the name of the legend connected to it.
A miraculous event in the 17th century transformed Ljubno into an important pilgrimage place in the then Carniola. During renovation of the church a builder struck the statue of Mary - blood ran out of the wound and would not stop. The story quickly became known throughout the land and attracted ever more pilgrims. Today the church is still known as the Church of the 'Stricken' Mary, however, the pilgrimage route began to lose popularity as a result of the development of nearby Brezje.
By continuing uphill past the church along the cart track on the meadow above the village, you will soon be rewarded by magnificent panoramic views of Dobrava, the Ljubljana Basin, the surrounding countryside, the Karavanke mountains, the Jelovica plateau and the Julian Alps – all of which appear to be within arm's reach. There is a marked walking trail between Ljubno and Brezje – the Ljubno-Brezje Pilgrimage Trail.
Written by Adele in Slovenia, March 2019
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