Traditional wrought iron window grilles, shutters and railings go hand-in-hand with modern designed wrought iron products.
The tradition of iron forging, innovative design and genuine hand-crafting create better products. You can admire wrought iron work whilst strolling through Kropa, Radovljica and Kamna Gorica. At UKO Kropa, in tourist information centres, and at a number of other blacksmiths' workshops, you can buy items that will also embellish your own home or garden.
When walking through the village of Kropa it soon becomes clear that this isn't only a place where nails were mass-produced in the past, but is home to a tradition of artistic iron forging.Traditional and contemporary designed wrought iron features can be seen throughout the village.
The old foundry houses continue to be adorned by wrought ironwork made by self-taught masters of the art.
In the cemetery next to St. Lenart's church in Kropa there are still a number of skillfully designed wrought iron crosses. The Cultural Centre (Kropa 3) has a large wrought iron door and window grills, produced in the workshop of UKO Kropa in the 1950s. In Kropa's main square, known locally as Plac, there is a monument to the National Liberation Struggle with forged iron sculptures made in a local blacksmith's workshop.
In recent years Kropa has been further adorned by modern wrought ironwork, also produced in the local UKO Kropa workshop. Kropa's renowned wrought iron dragon, made by the master blacksmith Joža Bertoncelj, stands next to the main road towards Jamnik, just in front of an old foundry house. More of his works can be seen in the Kropa Iron Forging Museum.
Kamna Gorica was also once a centre of nail forging. Artistic wrought ironwork can be found on the old foundry houses and as part of the modern design of areas within the village.
Whilst strolling through the village you can see wrought iron railings on the small bridges and shutters on the windows of houses. The forged iron gate on Langus's shrine and at the entrance to the cemetery are of particular note, as well as the beautiful forged iron fittings in the interior of the village church.
Radovljica also boasts a number of modern wrought iron features. The park and the car park near the old town centre are illuminated by unique street lamps, whilst along the main road through Radovljica towards Lesce in places there are skillfully designed wrought iron railings.
Kropa, synonymous with Slovenian iron forging, became the centre of artistic wrought ironwork in the 20th century. Production of wrought iron products is unique and small-scale. Individual products are the results of the work of designers and blacksmiths. In previous centuries the foundry houses in Kropa and Kamna Gorica were adorned by iron shutters on windows and doors, window grills, door handles and sign posts, however, up to the 20th century production was intended for local use only.
Following the decline of the nail-making industry in the 19th century, as well as the industrialisation of hand iron forging in the first half of the 20th century, Kropa began to specialise in the development of artistic iron forging. At first this took place as part of the metal workers' co-operative, and later at the privately-owned company UKO Kropa, which is still today the largest artistic ironworking workshop in Slovenia. In addition, the rich tradition of artistic iron forging is being preserved and continued by individual artistic blacksmiths in Kropa, Kamna Gorica and other parts of Radol'ca.
Among Slovenia's artistic blacksmiths Joža Bertoncelj (1901-1976) from Kropa occupies a special place. He worked with renowned architects such as Jože Plečnik, Boris Kobe
t, Ivan Špinčič, and others. He was often both a designer and, at the same time, a blacksmith – a master of his craft. His original creative and unique wrought iron products (dragons, chandeliers, window grilles, railings) became famous not only in Slovenia but also further afield. A collection of his work can be seen in Kropa's Iron Forging Museum.