Ljubljanica River Springs - Vrhnika 6210

Ljubljanica River Springs - Vrhnika

Region Central Slovenia Statistical region
Starting point TIC Vrhnika, Tržaška cesta 9, 1360 Vrhnika
Route length 11 km
route duration 1-2 h
Best time to visit spomladi, poleti, zgodaj jeseni
Appropriate for 3-6 years of age , 6+ years of age , Bikes
Level of difficulty lahka krožna pot


Route Description

The Ljubljanica River is one of the most special bodies of water in Slovenia, which is supplied with many karst influent streams. It vanishes into the ground and comes to the surface many times along its long and varied course, each time with a different name. It springs up in the foothills of Mount Snežnik as the Trbuhovca Stream, then later as the Obrh Stream, the Stržen Stream, the Rak Stream, the Pivka and Unica rivers, until it rises to the surface for the final time near Vrhnika as the Ljubljanica River. Its springs are divided into three major groups known as Močilnik, Retovje and Bistra. In addition, there are many other smaller springs, wells and affluents in this area.

Interesting Facts

Under the Vita, Olja and Juna Recommend column, you can hear the Tale of the Town of Vrhnika. Every child, even your inner child, will enjoy hearing it. Read a few  interesting facts on the three major groups of springs below.

Močilnik is a limestone steephead valley, out of which waters from the Big Močilnik Spring (Veliki Močilnik) and the Little Močilnik Spring (Mali Močilnik) flow into the Little Ljubljanica River (Mala Ljubljanica). The Big Močilnik Spring is located at the foot of the Devil’s Cliffs (Hudičeve skale), which are 40 meters (131.2 feet) high. According to Greek mythology, Greek heroes – Jason and the Argonauts – ended their sail along Ljubljanica right here. They disassembled their ship and carried it on their shoulders to the Adriatic Sea. As a memorial to their journey, Vrhnika’s emblem is an image of the ship Argo, and locals and visitors remember them every year during the Argonaut Days Festival.

In the Retovje Valley, slightly hidden in the wooded foothills of Raskovec Hill and the Ljubljana Peak, lies the spring of Big Ljubljanica Stream (Velika Ljubljanica), which joins the Little Ljubljanica Stream (Mala Ljubljanica) from Močilnik after about 1 km (0.10 miles) in the village of Verd. From here on, the river is called Ljubljanica. There are many little springs in the valley: ‘Pod skalco’, ‘Pod orehom’, ‘Malo okence’ and ‘Veliko okence’. The springs of the Big Ljubljanica Stream produce the greatest volume of water of all the Ljubljanica springs and in the 19th century more than 10 water powered sawmills were located here.

Bistra Springs can be found at the foot of a steep, tectonically shaped karst hillside halfway between the towns of Vrhnika and Borovnica. Their streams form the Bistra River about 400 meters (437 yards) away. Their defensive position played a key role for the protection of the Bistra Monastery. Springs’ waters come from the Cerknica Karst Field, the Rakov Škocjan Park and the Planina Karst Field. In the past, the water powered mills and other equipment at the monastery and the Bistra Castle. The flow of water was controlled by sluice gates close to the mills and sawmills.

Another natural wonder among the Ljubljanica Springs is the Lintvern Spring, the source of the Bela Stream. Lintvern is a natural monument and a karst phenomenon. Its water flow is not constant; sometimes the water gushes out with great force but at times the spring completely dries up. The Slovenian polymath Johann Weikhard von Valvasor wrote (1689) that the Lintvern Spring occasionally spews out baby dragons. These ‘dragons’, off course, were probably human fish offspring.


Mila and Staš Recommend


Visiting the marsh pixies at Vrhnika

Using the Marsh Notebook (“Močvirska beležka”), children collect swamp stamps and pixie symbols (which belong to a special pixie script). Their mission is to find a magic spell to ward off the curse of the swamp pixies, with the help of the kind pixie named Lilija. They are accompanied by large wooden sculptures of swamp animals: a green frog, a horseshoe bat, a dragonfly and of course a tortoise, the central character of the Mali Plac nature reserve picture book. Mischievous swamp pixies make their appearance as well.

The Mali Plac nature reserve is a magical place full of unusual flora and fauna for the kids to discover. Here everything bubbles, croaks, rustles and warbles. This fantasy-adventure trail in the boggy, marshy Ljubljansko Barje Wetland makes sure all families learn something new about the past and present of this area, all while hiking it.

You can hear the Tale of the Town of Vrhnika. Every child, even your inner child, will enjoy hearing it.