LIFE13 NAT/SI/000314

The Kočevje Region – A Land of Forest

Dear visitors and lovers of unspoiled nature!

The Kočevje region represents the best preserved and rounded forest habitat in Europe. To this contribute numerous primeval forests, responsible management of the local community and the state. It is essential that it offers the most heartfelt experience of nature and contact with many different habitats with different plants and animals. At the same time the decision to visit the Kočevje region means to meet with an extremely rich historical and cultural heritage, where the most fateful decisions to defend the Slovenian nation in World War II and the time of independence of the Republic of Slovenia were taken. You will come across former villages where just the bleak walls retell the story of the unfortunate Gottschee Germans and where the remains of the Fridrikstein castle structure remain a monument to unrequited love and tragic love between Veronika of Desenice and Frederick of Celje. The boldest may also pay a visit to numerous caves. Today, visitors can ride through the entire Kočevje region on bicycles, and our environment is also welcoming to all hikers. In other words, anyone can shape their own story in the Kočevje region, regardless of their interests.

Therefore, you are cordially invited to discover the slightly mystical Kočevje region!

Vladimir Prebilič, PhD, Mayor of Kočevje

Kolpa1The Kočevje region is marked by a special history, because as a result of its remoteness, vast forests, harsh climate, karst features, water scarcity and poor fertility, it was solitary until the 13th century as a powerful and inaccessible primeval forest. In the 1330s the Count of Ortenburg settled the Kočevje region with German farmers. Because of geographically closed nature and remoteness of the region, the Gottschee Germans preserved and handed down their customs, traditions, costumes and language and preserved themselves as a German linguistic and cultural island in the middle of the Slovenian ethnic territory for more than 600 years.

You can learn more about their fate and the associated fate of the entire region in the Kočevje Regional Museum, which is located in the former Sokol House, presently the Šeškov dom Cultural Centre. From 1 till 4 October 1943, an Assembly of the emissaries of the Slovene nation was held in the building.
The landscape of the Kočevje region is one of the most naturally preserved parts of Slovenia and Central Europe as well. 90% of the region is covered by forests, predominantly Dinaric fir and beech forests. The Kočevje region prides itself with remnants of primeval forests. There are 12 remnants of primeval forest in Slovenia, 6 of which are found in the Kočevje region.

The most interesting corners of the Kočevje region are revealed through several nature learning and hiking trails which take us through forests, past forest reserves, the ruins of former villages, etc. They reveal special characteristics of the forest, tree giants, karst caves, lookouts, hidden animal world and who knows what else… This is an opportunity for long walks or a morning stroll. Please, pay attention to specially selected markers with symbols of animals and plants of the Kočevje region: the owl on Rožni studenec learning trail, the bear’s paw on Roška walkway, and the daffodil on Borovška trail. Equipped with guides, demonstration boards… the footpaths are becoming a true treasury of knowledge.

Along the way you can eat in restaurants that also offer game dishes (the Falkenau or Jelen inn), during hiking you can stop in the lodge at Jelenov’s well, where you can also sleep. From here you can climb to the ruins of the Fridrihštajn castle, which is connected with a love story between Veronika of Desenice and Frederick of Celje or visit the Ice cave, where snow and ice stays throughout the year.

You can also learn about the richness of the Kočevje region while horseback riding or try to discover the secrets of the region riding a bike on marked bike trails. You can relax at resting spots along the 32km circular cycling family trail “Cycling through the babbling brooks”.

For adrenaline seekers we offer the possibility of a three-day survival learning package in the wild, where you can learn how to survive with what nature has to offer.
If you take ride on the family cycle path along the edge of Kočevje, you have to stop at the lake of Kočevje, which is considered to be the cleanest lake in Slovenia. The lake is inhabited by large numbers of fish – such as whiting, tench, carp, catfish, rudd, pike, grass carp, etc., and is therefore a popular spot for anglers. In addition to the fishing the lake offers a possibility of several water sports while the surroundings are perfect for hiking, running, bowling or simply relaxing on newly arranged terraces.
As part of the Jezero tourist complex a new free station has been opened by the lake consisting of 3 parking spaces, use of which is limited to 48 hours. There is an information office nearby where you can get useful information about things to see in the Kočevje region.

The tourist complex offers a comfortable and adjustable hall, which can be an ideal place for meetings, workshops, gatherings and even weddings.
The Kočevje forests are home to all the autochthonous species of carnivora: such as bears, wolves, wild cats and lynx, which was reintroduced to the wild in 1973. The forests are full of different bird species, including many birds of prey and wood grouse. One of the few nesting places of white-tailed eagle is at the Reško lake.

Only 16 km from Kočevje the Polom hunting lodge offers special relaxation in harmony with nature while still enjoying all the benefits of modern lifestyle.
You can experience unspoilt nature with a visit or tastes it in the Kočevje forest honey, which has a protected designation of origin that is only obtained by the highest quality products at the EU level, or explore the traditional drinking of fruit juices and wines by visiting the Koprivnik Nasseltal Institute. Offering accommodation, the Institute with a cycling information point in its vicinity is a central point for discovering Kočevski Rog over several days.
However, the true gem of the Kočevje region is the Kolpa river, a paradise for those who need a real vacation. In 2010, the Kolpa river was awarded the title of European Destination of Excellence.

It is excellent for fly-fishers, and in summer you can enjoy its rapids which you can overcome swimming or use a boat to experience the flow of the river.
The Poljanska dolina valley which stretches along the Kolpa river is ideal for walking – along the Kozice footpath and the Spaha archeological trail, or for cycling.

Kočevje, arhiv Občine Kočevje (foto: Jošt Gantar)

Kočevje, arhiv Občine Kočevje (foto: Jošt Gantar)