The wheel and Radovljica

Written by Kaja Beton, December 2019


This year's decorations in Radovljica mark a return to tradition and the past. The symbol of a wheel is inescapably linked with our town and we have put together a number of reasons why we feel such immense affection for it. Read on to find out more.

What Radovljica and the wheel have in common varies greatly according to who you ask. Some are of the opinion that in the past, based on the town's former German name Radmansdorf, there were a lot of wheelwrights. The German word Rad means 'wheel'. We can't, however, actually confirm this theory. The wheelwright trade operated in the past in the area of the present-day Radovljica, however, according to historical sources, it was no more widespread than other trades of that time.


According to another theory about the origin of the town's name, the word Rad, or rather Rado, is connected to the first inhabitants of Radovljica. In the 12th or 13th centuries in the area of today's Predtrg, the Ortenburgs colonised around 10 farms from the northern part of Austrian Carinthia, their leader (the so-called 'occupier') was Rado. Such settlements were often named after their occupiers.


Regardless of the origins of the name Radovljica, or Radmansdorf, we have found a number of reasons why we feel such a special affection for the wheel, hence we decided to also include it as part of this year's festive December decorations.


These are our reasons:

  1. A wheel forms part of the coat-of-arms of the Municipality of Radovljica, which, at the same time, is also the coat-of-arms of the town of Radovljica. The oldest known depiction is on a seal from the start of the 16th century. The central motif is a man holding a wheel in his right hand whilst holding the town in his left. If, therefore, the coat-of-arms was to be read in German from left to right, the result would be Rad (wheel) – Man (human) – Dorf (village) – therefore Radmansdorf. The Radovljica coat-of-arms is one of those rare instances in Slovenia where it has such a well-defined written meaning.
  2. The wheel as an ornament appears on the entrance of the main entrance of St. Peter's church in Radovljica, which is located opposite the coat-of-arms of the builder of the church. The church dates back to the year 1495, but the entrances were renovated in the end of the 19th Century.
  3. Wheels, or rather those that rotated in water, were important in Kropa and Kamna Gorica, as they drove the bellows blowing air to fuel blacksmiths' fires, while in Begunje and other towns and villages there were mill wheels. Pay a visit to Kropa and Kamna Gorica where you can see for yourself that the waterwheels are still rotating.
  4. In the past the wheel was a symbol of development, and we are proud that the oldest preserved wooden wheel in the world was found right here in Slovenia. The wheel brought about an important advancement – it enabled faster work, simplified transport and, last but not least, made travel easier. And we love travelling, including by bike! Have you ever cycled around Radovljica and its surroundings?
  5. At Christmas time lest we forget, the wheel, like a completed circle, also reminds us of a Christmas wreath in which the circle symbolises eternity.

These five symbolic meanings are wonderfully interwoven into this year's decoration of the old town centre. The idea, which was thought up by the manageress of the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre, Natalija Černe, was put into practice thanks to Dr. Sabina Šegular with the assistance of numerous volunteers who wove garlands, wreaths and other decorations. As in the past, this year the basis of the decorations is real greenery from surrounding forests.


The story about the wheel also features in the December adventure for children, which we have completely remodelled this year. On the adventure children can learn about the history of Radovljica and at every point along the way they find wheels of various kinds, which provide the opportunity for a playful experience beneath the festive lights.


Pravljična kočija

It is our desire that our old town centre is really fairytale-like in December, we have also installed a special carriage in the town square. Its shape isn't linked to the forms of transport that Radovljica's wheelwrights used to equip with wheels in the past, however, it does add to the town's fairytale-like appearance. The carriage, which came about as a result of a suggestion, was forged by Štefan Pintar, a blacksmith from Kropa's blacksmith school, whilst Jonas Sotler is responsible for its illumination. We invite you to come and see it and, on the wings of imagination, take a journey over fairytale Radovljica.



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Road cycling through the surroundings of Radovljica
By bike to Bled and beyond!

Set off on a short cycle ride through the surroundings of Radovljica or a longer cycle tour around Gorenjska.

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