Ljubljana - Kočevje
As we drive from Ljubljana towards Kočevje, we see a road sign taking us to Turjak. Instead of taking the road to the castle, follow the signs for Gradež and take a left turn. You will arrive at your destination in just a few hundred meters.
First, drive to the castle. It is closed in the winter, however, its majestic building that was demolished during the war but is being rebuilt is a beautiful sight on its own. Even the linden tree in front of the entrance is unique. After a short tour of the castle, return to the main road, cross it and drive to the beginning of the Gradež village. Park in front of a small house – the fruit drying house. Nativity scenes can be found all over the village, almost in front of every house, often even in the houses, in the centre of the village, at the water well, in the chapel, under the hayrack… While the fruit drying house built in 1938 has a nativity scene on the outside, the number of them inside is so large, it is almost impossible to count all of them. While you drive further along the paved road through the village, you can rest your eyes on the many nativity scenes, displayed along both sides of the road. As the dark starts to creep in in the evening, the villagers light torches along their nativity scenes. Just a bit further along the road is the newly built hayrack that is home to a museum of old tools and a substantial number of nativity scenes. Continue your journey to the lovely village centre that was decorated by the villagers themselves. On a large platform, you will be able to see one of the largest nativity scenes here. On your right, you can find an old log cabin that takes us back into the past, to our parent’s and grandparent’s youth.
A bit further along the road is the village water well with an interesting water lifting pole. Even the well has its own nativity scene display. At the well, turn left and take a peek into the old house with the sign ČRNA KUHINJA (Black Kitchen). You will discover so many beautiful scenes here, you will find it hard to leave. It is also a good idea to stop at a house a bit further along the road on the left side. This house used to be a restaurant and has quite a few nativity scenes set up in the basement, while the barn a bit further on is a real-life workshop of the worker Joseph and his wife Mary’s room. There’s even a baby Jesus in the crib.
You will now reach the end of the village. Have a look at the interesting way the houses in this area are built. If you continue along the road, you will reach a fascinating hayrack that even has a doorway and rooms in the upper floor. Inside the house located on the right side of the hayrack, you can always find at least two nativity scenes. On the other side of the house, you will find an intriguing well. If you are in a wheelchair, return into the village until you reach the first left turn and take it to reach the parking lot. Otherwise, walk along the walkway to the same location. You will reach an interesting nativity scene inside a large crystal, attached to a massive tree trunk. Even the house at the hayrack that you visited before has a nativity scene and so does the smaller hayrack opposite the parking lot. Don’t forget to visit the chapel at the beginning of the village as it also hides a nativity scene inside. You can buy dried fruit and other delights at the fruit drying house and the nearby stalls on holidays. The dried fruit, dipped in chocolate, is such a wonderful treat.
Gradež - Škocijan - Grosuplje
You can end your trip in Gradež or, if the weather is nice and you have some energy left, drive to the village of Škocjan, home to a small church were the father of the Slovenian book, Primož Trubar, was baptized. You can then drive on through Velike and Male Lipljene, where you can have a look at a few beautiful hayracks that are still in use today. Then continue towards Grosuplje and you will soon notice the Sv. Anton chapel on the hill on the right, built in the rock with the jewel of the Slovenian history perched above it – the anti-Turk camp with the St. Nicholas's Church that was built in the 13th century and is one of the best preserved in the country. You can also visit the Taborska jama cave. It usually isn’t open during the winter while it is open on the weekends in the warmer months. Then drive towards Ponova vas and Grosuplje, where you can conclude your trip.