Counts of Turjak (Auerspergs) were one of the bravest and most famous warriors in the history of Slovenia, as they made it difficult for the Turks to ravage the land, while many ladies of the castle admired them. Head to their castle at Turjak, armed with your bike and a will of iron.
The shopping centre at Rudnik is your starting point and you can reach it along Dolenjska or Jurčkova roads by car which you can park at one of the car parks. If you came by train, alight from it at Galjevica railway station. Make your way through the labyrinth of roads to the utmost southern edge of the shopping centre, cross the railway line and turn right to the main road towards Škofljica.
Stick to the right edge of the road due to heavy traffic and try to meet other vehicles as safely as possible. You'll first get to Lavrica, which is also the starting point for Čemšenik Castle Footpath (perhaps some other time?), but you continue to Škofljica which is the seat of Pekarna Pečjak Bakery and where you can thus supply yourself with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates for the road. In Škofljica, turn to the road to Kočevje , and then continue straightforward (or slightly to the right) at all main crossroads. On the right side at the crossroads, do take a look at the last remains of the former village centre of Škofljica - Španček Homestead which used to be an inn, fairground and a cart drivers' stop in the time of cart drivers. The inn took care of horses too which were tied to the famous Robežnik double hayrack. Proud locals claim that this might be the longest hayrack in Europe. The owner moved it a few metres away from the road, due to the expansion of the main road, in order to preserve it for the next generations as the hayrack is of great importance for the identity of the settlement. Cross the railway line at the end of Škofljica and soon after, turn right to Ig to avoid the busy main road as soon as possible. You are now at a pleasantly empty road on the Marshes where you turn left at the end of the forest (on your left) and continue to Pijava Gorica. You've reached the main road Ljubljana-Kočevje which is accompanied by the birch-lined alley ; however, in the time of Maria Theresa, apple trees grew there. During their long walks across the unknown lands, the soldiers and hikers thus got free food from the trees in the autumn. This road used to connect Drava Banovina with Sušak at Reka in Croatia, as the Slovenian coast belonged to the Kingdom of Italy prior World War II and the sea was thus much further than today. Due to the marshy ground, the road is uneven, however, cycling along it is pleasant and carefree and full of genuine marshy flair and lovely panoramas of the plain . When you reach the petrol station at the main road, turn right and bypass Pijava Gorica and Pijavški hrib along the flat section. The asphalt road just behind the houses is replaced by an 800-metre long section of macadam, so the cyclists with city bikes should cycle this section a little more carefully. Pijavška barjanska pot Path, a circular hiking trail, which leads from Pijava Gorica to the Marshes runs partly on this road. The path is equipped with boards describing the cultural, historic and natural peculiarities of this area and joins the road from Pijava Gorica to Želimlje . The road runs along the very edge of the Želimlje Valley, a narrow valley which is located at the end of the Ljubljana Marshes and at the alluvial fan of the Želimeljščica with cultivated surfaces. The valley is on the eastern side towards Turjak encompassed by the forest karst hills, while the western side towards Kurešček is hilly and intertwined with gorges and hamlets.
Under the free sun in Želimlje
The road takes you to Želimlje, a settlement known for the Church of St. Vitus. At the beginning of the 20th century, Fran Saleški Finžgar was a priest in Želimlje. During his work there, he wrote the monumental historical novel Pod svobodnim soncem (Under the Free Sun). The novel describes a famous period of Slovenians from the times of their early settlement when the people were still free under the sun, subordinated to no one and without the supreme leader, living in a democracy where the assembly of elders decided in the name of the people. This sounds almost too good to be true today. In the honour of the elder Svarun, Svarun Path has been arranged. The path connects places which were important for the formation of the story. The path starts in Škofljica, rises over the hilly surroundings to Vrh nad Želimljami, descends down the valley of the Želimeljščica and returns to Škofljica. You've already cycled the part of Svarun Path between Škofljica and Pijava Gorica. Turn left to the valley of the Želimeljščica at the chapel , where the newly asphalted and winding road along the forest and the Želimeljščica takes you to Turjak. The road behind the first houses in Podturjak gently ascends. At the turning for the settlement of Ščurki and some other villages , turn left to the valley of the Bajdinc Stream towards Turjak.
The Bajdinc Stream, a right tributary of the Želimeljščica River, springs below Gora (Sv. Ahac) which you'll approach when descending from Turjak. The Bajdinc Stream creates four marvellous waterfalls along its course, because of its great difference in altitude. The view of the waterfalls will definitely make your route more diverse. Two paths lead to the waterfalls: a longer one from the valley where you proceed over the stream at the bridge along the right bank up the hill, and a shorter one (which is also safer) which descends from the cemetery at the houses below Turjak Castle. You need proper shoes and some climbing skills to visit the Bajdinc waterfalls, as the path along the stream is steep in some sections.
The road with some hairpins (for more than 200 metres) ascends toward Turjak Castle and the view of the mighty walls will reward you for the efforts you've put into getting there . The castle got its name after the extinct powerful and aggressive wild cattle - urus - which used to live in this area and is also depicted in the castle's coat-of-arms. Turjak was one of the most important castles in Carniola, its greatest power and glory coincided with Reformation, Turkish invasions and peasant revolts. The Turjak noblemen, Auerspergs, were Protestants and thus supported Trubar and Dalmatin in their efforts to spread Protestantism and promote Slovenian language. In the 16th century, the Auerspergs bravely defended their land and religion in more than ten decades long battles against the Turks in the wider area of former Austrian Monarchy.
As a silent observer of the events, a mighty 100-year-old linden tree grows in front of the castle. Instead of using the linden tree, Prešeren poetised an oak tree in his poem of the beautiful Rosamund of Turjak, a presumptuous and boastful lady of the castle. By changing the trees, he made fun of the Auerspergs as he refused to ascribe them the symbol of Slovenian identity - the linden tree. The remains of the tree-lined alley , where knight games took place, are still visible at the castle. The path between the houses below the castle turns to the 400 m distant cemetery with a church which is located amid the forest. There is also a starting point for the previously mentioned ten-minute descent to the Bajdinc Stream or Bajdinc waterfalls. On the main road Ljubljana-Kočevje, take one last look at the castle , and then cross the road and turn toward Grosuplje. You can see the conical Gora on the left, which is also known under the name of Sv. Ahac, after the church of St. Acacius at the top. Gora was populated already in the ancient times and was in the time of Turkish invasions an observation mountain closely connected with Turjak Castle and its defenders. The area from Škofljica to Dolenjska is one big archaeological site with an exceptional number of remnants from the prehistory, Iron and Bronze Ages, to say nothing of the later periods. The broader area is known for the abundance of findings from the 3000-year-old Halstatt period. Permanent settlement began at that time as well which testifies of the importance of this area in Slovenian history. It is not surprising that Fran Saleški Finžgar got an inspiration for his historical novel in these places. However, the road still slowly ascends to the second part of the Turjak settlement where you reach the highest point of today's route and later descends to Grosuplje. First cycle past the village of Škocjan with the Church of St. Cantianus (Kocjan) which is located at the site of the former chapel built as thanks for safe rescue from the forest. Primož Trubar was baptised in this church, and Jurij Dalmatin worked there as a Protestant priest. Cycle through Velike Lipljene and turn left to the asphalt road in the village ; the right turning would bring you along the macadam road to Županova jama Cave, an arranged karst cave (it was discovered almost 100 years ago by a mayor of the nearby village who also arranged it for tourists) and to Tabor nad Cerovim, an anti-Turkish fortress which was never conquered due to its proximity to Turjak Castle and its armed defenders and has been really beautifully renovated. You can add these two local touristic peculiarities to your schedule for one of the following trips.
From knights to Romans
You'll soon descend through Št. Jurij, Mala vas and Ponova vas into the valley to Grosuplje where you cross the railway line, turn left towards the city centre and continue to the main road at the glass administrative municipal building, which runs towards Šmarje-Sap or the motorway. You can observe modern statues or sculptures along the road , which have become a trademark of Grosuplje. Turn left before motorway junction, towards Cikava and Šmarje-Sap, where a road between northern Italy and Pannonian Plain (Aquileia-Ljubljana-Sisak-Sremska Mitrovica) used to run in the times of the Roman Empire. This was a transit road, but can be regarded as a great-predecessor of the motorway Ljubljana-Zagreb-Beograd. Cultural Heritage of Šmarje-Sap Trail is arranged in Šmarje-Sap, which also includes the former Roman road. Ascend from Šmarje-Sap to Mali vrh, and then descend back to Škofljica. Turn right at the main crossroads in Škofljica, and after a few metres at another crossroads, left to Dolenjska Road and then cycle towards Ljubljana or to the starting point at the shopping centre in Rudnik.
You've started with the remembrance of the brave knights who fought with the Turks 500 years ago, then proceeded cycling across the hilly landscape rich with historical sites from 3000 years ago, and concluded with the old Romans who lived there 2000 years ago. The route could not finish more symbolically and appropriately than at the shopping centre - a modern sanctuary which requires no hill, knoll or magic spring for its shrine is already located at the bank. Haven't we, compared to the historically attested efforts of our forefathers, gone astray somewhere along the way?