Zgornji Otok

Spodnji and Zgornji Otok

Preserved farmhouses beside the local road, above them the walled Church of St. John the Baptist.

Traditional Slovenian alpine houses stand in a row beside the main road in the village of Zgornji Otok. This was once the main trade route across the Radovljica plains, the so-called Emperor's road. Travellers, transporters and merchants stopped at the houses where they could get food and drink and have any necessary repairs to their equipment carried out. Some of the houses are very well preserved and their facades are adorned with frescoes.


Spodnji Otok is slightly set back to the north from the main road. The farmsteads are grouped tightly together under the slopes beneath the Church of St. John the Baptist with its beautifully preserved 15th century frescoes. During the time of the Turkish invasions a surrounding wall was built around the church, and a legend about the church originates from that time. It explains why the church here chimes noon an hour earlier. When the Turkish invaders were approaching the town and village, their horses were attacked by hornets and they fled. Since this happened at exactly 11am, the church still today chimes noon an hour early. Legend has it that one of the Turk's horses galloped off so quickly that one of its hooves struck the church door and left an everlasting hollow.


The first settlers here were farmers from German-speaking lands. At the end of the 13th and start of the 14th centuries they were settled here by the Ortenburgs. The original settlement was on the slopes as the plains were very boggy since they were the remains of a former lake. It wasn't until the 18th century that the villagers succeeded in completely draining the area through the use of drainage canals.




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Written by Rebecca Svetina, March 2019


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