The Ljubljansko barje, the Ljubljana wetland, is the largest marshy plain in Slovenia. The huge area on the southern outskirts of the Slovenian capital covers an area of 150 km2. The wetland is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including in the “Prehistoric Pile Houses Near the Alps,” among 5 other countries.
The swampy area at the foot of Mount Crimea has long been considered unusable, so the people living here have done everything to replenish and make it cultivable. Today, that has changed.
As a rare natural treasure, the preservation of the wetlands that once covered most of Europe has become an important task for the Slovenes. All the more so as it is a habitat for rare plants and animals not found elsewhere.
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|Address||Podpeč 72, Preserje|
|Ljubljana distance||20 mins / 15 km|
|Opening hours||00:00 - 24:00, Jan-Dec|
|Time you need||4 - 6 hours|
|Why is it famous?||One of the largest wetlands in Europe|
Where is Ljubljana Marshes?
Address, map, distance, approach
Ljubljansko barje is located next to the capital of Slovenia. The easiest way to get to the swamps is by car. The special and protected area is less than 20 minutes (by car) from Ljubljana.
- Distance from Ljubljana: 20 minutes / 15 km
Visiting the wetlands
You can find the list of possible tourist centers on the park's site. Nearest tourist center to the countryside:
TIC - Tourist Information Center Brezovica
- Address: Podpeč 72, Preserje
- The name of the wetland in Slovenian: Ljubljansko barje
- Visit: free, possible from 0 to 24 hours
The formation of the wetland
How was Ljubljansko bare created?
The wetland has been filled with thick layers of adobe and sand over millennia due to tectonic subsidence.
Later, a lake developed that was not fed by any tributaries and streams — nor did it drain water from it — so over time, its swamping began. Peat was formed from the combination of oxygen-deficient water and lakeside vegetation.
The remains of the dead plants could not decompose in the absence of oxygen, accumulating on top of each other over millennia to form layers several meters thick. As this area is not conducive to rapid development, only certain plants are able to live here, e.g. the carnivorous dew grass.
At the end of the last ice age, the huge, shallow-water lake was home to fish and other aquatic animals, which also made the area attractive to people who settled down and built pile houses.
Human activity and the desire to make the wetland cultivable caused changes in the area. It was never possible to cultivate on weak and acidic peat soils, but it was realized that it served as a great fuel.
In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, peat extraction became the most lucrative work in the area. The resources seemed inexhaustible, but in the meantime, much of the peat was destroyed.
When people here realized they were running out of valuable fuel, they tried to drain the swamps to use them as pasture. Plenty of drainage ditches was created, and a lot of work was done to keep them running.
More and more people came to the countryside in hopes of acquiring land suitable for farming. In the swampy countryside, more and more houses had to be erected, which the architects found the best way to do.
They built stable, low-rise buildings that were more expensive than traditional houses, yet they managed to build many residential and industrial buildings in the wetlands in the second half of the last century.
Preservation and protection
Slovenia put an end to centuries of violence against nature with the adoption of the Natura 2000 guidelines established by the European Union. Protected areas have been designated accordingly, largely in areas that have already been drained, but also where they have already been installed.
In the 2010 spatial planning plans for Ljubljana, the wetland is already listed as a highly protected area against construction.
It is indisputable that the wetland is worth preserving. It is home to rare animals and plant species completely different from the surrounding areas. These marshy areas are home to half of the 250 native bird species in Slovenia! These include the cricket bird, the great polo, the northern meadow shell, the herring, the rusty pike.
A white sandy path runs through the meadows and fields, and various types of trees have been planted along the old ditches, enveloping them in mystical fog in autumn and winter.
The Ljubljana wetland is the most beautiful from the air. The most popular tourist attraction of the capital is to fly over it. But the traffic of hot air balloons over the marshes has been very restrained as their voices frighten the animals living here more than those of airplanes.
The area is cared for by the Ljubljana Wetlands Landscape Park. The small team works with the authorities, the surrounding municipalities to carry out its diverse tasks.
There is plenty of work in the wetlands that have suffered a lot of damage in recent centuries to achieve their goal of restoring their original condition and ecosystem.
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