For the best panoramic view of Slovenia
If you’ve ever driven through the Ljubljana Marshes (Ljubljanskso Barje), you couldn’t have failed to notice the little church sitting atop a small exposed hill which is visible from all around. This lovely old building is the Church of Saint Ana.
There are two nice hiking trails to this church, and here I will show you both.
Situated on the southern side of Ljubljana, the Ljubljana Marshes, or Ljubljana Moors, however you want to call it, is a 160-sq km natural bogland comprising marshes and peat bogs. Much of this area is flat, so this single hill at 384m altitude provides amazing panoramic views from the top of the whole of the moors, across to the city of Ljubljana, the Polhov Gradec Dolomites, the Kamnik Alps and the forested slopes of Krim Mountain.
The church stands on the hilltop above the old Podpec quarry. An old gothic church once stood here, but was replaced by the current church in the 16th century. The church is closed to visitors and is only now used for mass on Saint Anne’s Day (July 28th).
The legend of the dragon
You may have heard of the legend of the Ljubljana dragon, and how it was slain by the Greek hero Jason, while he was camped here with his Argonauts. Well, it was here on the Ljubljana Marshes that the battle took place. According to local legend, the dragon found his final resting place here. Locals believe that the hill covers the dragon’s head, while his great body lies under Podpec Lake and his tail stretches right the way to Krim Mountain. When the dragon stirs and whips his tail, water from the subterranean springs rises up and floods the whole of the Ljubljana Marshes.
How to get there
To get there simply take the Ljubljana ring road and head south. On the southern side take exit 33 for Rudnik and head for Crna Vas. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and follow the long, straight road through Crna Vas to Podpec. The hill and church are visible from all directions as you drive towards Podpec.
To get there by bus take the 19B from Ljubljana to Jezero.
Two hiking trails
There are several hiking trails to the top, but two main ones that are the easiest to find.
Hike from Podpec Lake
The first is from Podpec Lake. When you arrive in Podpec, you’ll come to a roundabout. Take the second exit towards Jezero and follow signs to the lake.
Podpec Lake (Podpesko Jezero) is a small lake fed by seven karst springs from beneath the surrounding hills. The lake is almost perfectly circular in shape, and water flows out via a sinkhole at the bottom, which reaches 51 metres. In summer there is a nice green area for sunbathing, and you can also fish from around the lake shore or from the pier. If you want to fish however, you must obtain a fishing permit, which is available from the Ribiška družina Barje fishing club online from the Ribiške karte web portal.
You can eat or get ice creams at the lakeside restaurant, Gostilnica Jezero. The pizzas here are excellent.
Beside the lake are some free parking spaces. From here the main road in turns to a gravel road. Just a little way down here the trail starts.
From here the trail leads up the forested hillside and takes about 30 minutes. It’s a little steep in places but not overly demanding. Bear in mind that it’s a forest path, so it can get slippery after the rain. It’s a typical forest trail so a bit rocky in places and lots of bit roots to walk over, so a good pair of walking and hiking shoes are needed here.
For an overview of this trail, watch my video:
Hike from Presereje village side
If you want a quicker and easier walk up, then at the roundabout in Podpec take the first exit and head down this road until you come to a turning left for Preserje. Follow this road up until you come to another left turn at the top which will take you to a small car park here:
From this car park you can simply walk the forest road up to the church. It takes about 20 minutes and is very easy. It’s a gravel road all the way so you’ll have no problem even after the rains, and it’s also great fun in the snow.
Views from the top
Like all uphill hikes, the best part is reaching the top and enjoying the view. From the top of the Dragon’s head you get the most outstanding view all across the Ljubljana Marshes. It can get a bit windy up here as it’s an exposed hill, so be sure to bring an extra layer with you. The views here are panoramic, and you can see right across to the city of Ljubljana and even see the Ljubljana Castle. The majestic Kamnik Alps are clearly visible to the north on most days, as are the Polhov Gradec Dolomites to the west. When it’s clear enough, you can even see Mount Triglav (Slovenia’s highest peak).
From this church you will see numerous other churches across the Ljubljana Marshes. The most obvious will be off to the west, where there is another nice little old church on a hill called the Church of Saint Joseph. You can hike up to this church, but there are no views from it. It’s better from here because you get a lovely backdrop to it.
Sunrise or sunset
The views from here are especially great at both sunrise and sunset. Sunrise can be especially great outside of summer when there is low lying mist over the Barje. If you are photographer, like me, then you’ll be quite prepared to get up here before dawn to capture it.