The Vipava Valley does not only feature a lot of natural wonders, but also a rich cultural heritage in the form of churches. Almost every village has a church that differs from one another in its own special way. From the largest wooden altar and the mosaic of Father Rupnik to the bell tower that served as a lighthouse and the church that was built by a chivalric order. We present to you seven churches that you can visit and learn more about.
Church of St. Cosmas and Damian in Podbrje It was built at the beginning of the 16th century. This is proven by an archival document dated 1503, and the year 1502 engraved on one of the keystones in the church presbytery. It was in the 17th and 18th centuries when the church got its current appearance. This is also implied by the depiction of the church building in The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola from 1689 by Johann Weikhard von Valvasor. During the First World War, it served as a military hospital for the wounded from the Insonzo Front, and then as a horse stable. It was partially renovated between the two world wars, while more serious and extensive renovations began only in the 1960s and 1970s. Given its size and surface, the altar of St. Cosmas and Damian is one of the largest wooden altars in Slovenia. It is called Sperandi's Altar, because Angelo Sperandi was the master who gilded the high altar, while the carpentry and carving work is credited to the workshop of Avguštin Ferfila from Ljubljana.
Church of St. Daniel in Sanabor First mentioned in 1668, the church lies to the west from the hamlet of Sanabor, in a narrow valley between the Col Plateau and Nanos. The church is surrounded by a wall, inside which is a cemetery. A Roman milestone is built into the cemetery wall, marking the Roman road to Emona (Ljubljana). The church is also known among locals as "Saint Daniel on the Lake", as folk tradition says that a lake used to be there. The interior of the church got its present appearance in the Baroque and 19th century. The ceiling of the presbytery is decoratively painted with gold stars on blue background, and the ribs are decorated with a vine motif.
3. Church of St. Primus and Felician in Vrhpolje The parish Church of St. Primus and Felician in Vrhpolje was built in 1875. Its construction helped create a new village core that coincides with the intersection of waterways and roads. In 1890, a fountain was placed in the square in front of the church, which was restored during the Pope's first visit to Slovenia. The space in front of the church is surrounded by nine chestnut trees out of the original ten. They serve as a memory of the war crime that took place on 27 September 1943, when the Germans hanged ten Partisans who were captured on Nanos. The Vrhpolje parish Church of St. Primus and Felician has been fully renovated since 1 December 2013. The largest mosaic of Father Marko Ivan Rupnik in Slovenia, measuring as many as 180 square metres, was installed in it. It gave the church a completely new appearance. It was being made by more than 100 artists for two months and it took a week for it to be installed in the church. The central image in the presbytery illustrates the resurrected Christ with the apostles Peter and Thomas.
Church of St. Jerome on Nanosu The Chursh of St. Gerome is the remotest filial church of the Šembije Parish. It stands on the eastern slope of Nanos, below Grmada, at an altitude of 1,018 m. Due to its location, it is clearly visible far across the Vipava region, the Karst and also from the sea. The high altar, dedicated to St. Jerome, is mentioned in the archival documents for the first time in 1360, which reliably witnesses the existence of a place of worship on Nanos. In the following centuries, the church was repaired several times, as it was damaged several times due to severe weather conditions, especially humidity, and it also fell into disrepair due to people seeking fortune in the church by digging for treasure. A pilgrimage church in its character, it played an interesting role in the past, as is known from numerous records. Due to being visible from the sea, sailors borne it in minds as it is said to have served them as a signpost. Some records say that Trieste sailors used to donate large quantities of oil to maintain the lamp, and other says that it was the family of the Trieste Count.
Church of St. Nicholas on the slopes of Nanos Embedded in the southern slope of Nanos (Gora) between Poreče and Vipava is the Church of St. Nicholas, which stands at an altitude of 443 m. The church is first mentioned at the beginning of the 17th century, which can be concluded from the year 1608 carved on the late Gothic stone entrance portal. In its history that spans for more than 300 years, the Church of St. Nicholas has been often exposed to theft, vandalism and gradual decay many times, especially during the Second World War and also after it, when it was exposed to the shelling by the former Yugoslav People's Army from the nearby shooting range in Mlake. The church is a popular pilgrimage and hiking spot. Giving it added value is the beautiful location with the backdrop of the mighty rocks of Nanos above it. There you can find the northernmost point where the evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) in Slovenia.
Church of St. Stephen in Vipava The parish Church of St. Stephen stands in a small square embraced by characteristic littoral houses. It is an important art history monument. It was built in 1556. It was a Gothic church in its basis, which is evident from the exterior of the presbytery. The church was baroquised in 1751. Standing out is the bell tower, which features carved decorations of an exceptional quality. The frescos on the vault of the presbytery are the work by Baroque painter Franc Jelovšek from 1752, and the frescoes in the lower part of the presbytery are the work by Janez Wolf from 1877. The scenes depicting the story of St. Stephen also feature several portraits of known citizens from that period. Images of the death of St. Joseph are depicted in the altar on the southern wall, while paintings of St. John of Nepomuk are featured in the altar on the northern wall. Both are the work by the famous painter Janez Valentin Metzinger.
Church of St. Matthias in Slap The church stands in the middle of the village of Slap, in the square. It is surrounded by the wall of the former cemetery, which has two entrances. The church is first mentioned in 1373 and today it is one of the oldest buildings in the village. According to local legend, it was built in the 13th century by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Today's church stands on the foundations of its medieval predecessor from the early 1570s. To the right of the bell tower, three stone slabs with embossed equal-armed crosses are built into the ground floor of the façade, which is considered proof of the presence of Maltese knights in Slap. A parchment written in the Glagolitic script was found in the church of St. Matthias in Slap, an excerpt from the Psalter with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is today kept by the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia.
You can also learn a lot about the historical heritage of Vipava on our website Izvirna Vipavska. There you can also find a lot of ideas for trips to our area.
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