Rosamund of Turjak was a vain and conceited lady of the castle who tasked her groom-to-be difficult tasks, but was disappointed in the end as she was too vain. This route is also her challenge for you: will you manage the route with the altitude difference of all together almost thousand metres of ascents? Can you find the right path at forest cross-less-roads? Can you imagine life along these paths in prehistory, in the era of the knights and anti-Turkish battles, in the period of the Roman Empire and, last but not least, at the time of final battles for liberation of Ljubljana at the end of World War II? All that and more awaits you on the route. Unfortunately, you reward after the finished route won't be a lady of the castle or a handsome knight, but the satisfaction over conquering the route, gaining some new information and experiencing new adventures, which will also suffice. And what's more: you will most definitely not be disappointed in the end.
Rosamund, the lady of Turjak Castle, was certain she was the most beautiful girl far and wide. From among her numerous suitors, she chose the brave and famous Ostrovrhar knight. At the celebration of her engagement, a minstrel told her that the black-eyed beauty, Lejla, lives in Bosnia who is much more beautiful than Rosamund. Vanity and pride took over Rosamund, so she called upon her fiancé to leave for Bosnia to fight the Turks, show them his power and liberate Christians from slavery and brings her the Bosnian beauty to prove that she was not more beautiful than Rosamund. Ostrovrhar, an experienced warrior, completed the mission, but with a little twist: he did defeat the Turks and saved the Christians, but he preferred black-eyed Lejla over presumptuous Rosamund, so he left her and decided for a new life and adventures with Lejla. Rosamund was left with nothing but to cry over her destiny in the monastery. The story was poetised in a ballad by a great Slovenian poet France Prešeren for later generations, while you can be encouraged to read this ballad (or any other Prešeren's poem) at home.
Your starting point is the final city bus stop (nr. 3) at Rudnik where you can park your car or already head there with bike along Dolenjska Road. You'll stay on Dolenjska Road or the main road Ljubljana-Kočevje for quite a while at the beginning. Cycle carefully due to this extremely busy road.
Cycle along Dolenjska Road past Lavrica and towards Škofljica, where you follow the direction for Kočevje at the main crossroads and thus cycle straightforward or slightly to the right. On the right side at the crossroads, take a look at the last remains of the former village centre of Škofljica - Španček Inn and Farm which used to be a cart drivers' stop, an inn and a fairground. Horses were tied to the famous Robežnik double hayrack. Locals claim that this may be the longest hayrack in Europe. The owner of the hayrack moved it a few metres away from the road due to the expansion of the main road and he thus managed to preserve this important local peculiarity. Cross the railway line at the end of Škofljica and start ascending past Gumnišče to the valley below Pijava Gorica.
The ascent (the longest on today's route), which will take you 300 meters above sea level to Turjak, starts at the petrol station. The first settlement on your way is Pijava Gorica. According to one explanation, it got its name after the Latin word pius - meaning kind, gentle. Kind and gentle, due to its geographical position on the hill above the Marshes, it is then – the Gentle Gorica. Black-eyed Lejla must have also been more kind and gentle than Rosamund of Turjak if Ostrovrhar chose the former. Pijavška barjanska pot Path - a circular hiking trail from Pijava Gorica to the Marshes starts at the church in Pijava Gorica. It is equipped with boards that describe cultural, historic and natural peculiarities of this area. The hiking trail then joins the road from Pijava Gorica towards Želimlje which runs along the edge of the Želimlje Valley.
The road, quite broadened in 2012 , gently ascends towards Turjak over the area where important prehistoric, Iron Age and Bronze Age sites are located and which testify that the area was populated already in the prehistory. The very name gradišče, meaning the fortified settlement on the slope, tells how Slovenian forefathers lived and what places they chose for dwelling or burial. The ridge which runs from Škofljica towards Sv. Ahac Hill and separates the Grosuplje Valley from the Želimlje Valley or the Ljubljana Marshes, tells stories from the ancient past. Even Fran Saleški Finžgar, a priest from Želimlje in the beginning of the 20th century, listened to the stories, as this area inspired him to write the historical novel Pod svobodnim soncem (Under the Free Sun). Svarun Path is arranged in the vicinity of Škofljica as a tribute to the novel. The path, dedicated to the old Slavic doyen Svarun, leads along the area which was the inspiration for Finžgar's story: from Škofljica over the hilly hinterland to Vrh nad Želimljami, across the valley of the Želimeljščica and back to Škofljica.
Cycle past Smrjene and Gradišče nad Pijavo Gorico. After Gradišče, at the signpost for Vrh nad Želimljami turn left to the local road to Vrh. After 250 metres, the road starts ascending to the right and uphill. You'll soon reach Vrh nad Želimljami and continue to the fire station. The entire area is an archaeological site of the old settlement with observation hill where the Church of St. Peter is located nowadays. There is an older fort from the Iron Age period at the church, with visible defence terraces and mounds, geo-strategically located above the Ljubljana Marshes and the Grosuplje Valley, with a view that reaches all the way to the Julian Alps and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. If you have time to visit the fort at the church , turn left at the fire station and then right at the end of the village. The cycle route continues right and downhill from the fire station and then left uphill at the first turning in the eastern part of the village. At the next larger turning proceed right towards Veliki Ločnik and orientate according to Gora, the highest conical hill straight ahead, which you were able to observe all the way through Vrh.
Gora – Sv. Ahac (St. Acacius)
The conical Gora or Sv. Ahac (after the church on the top), was an important settlement already in the ancient times, when it served as a guard or signal hill during the Turkish invasions and was directly connected with Turjak Castle and its defenders. Rosamund might have also often gazed dreamily at Gora while she waited for a proper suitor, as Gora represented a symbol of the brave knights and warriors against the Turks. There is a prehistoric fort located around the Church of St. Acacius and the mound of the fort is still well visible. Pass the hill on the left, northern side between Veliki and Mali Ločnik. Ascend from Vrh to Veliki Ločnik , continue to the end of the village where the road changes into a macadam cart track which leads through the forest. You'll soon reach the crossroads where you turn right (you would get to Grosuplje along the left road). Even the macadam cart track soon ends and is followed by the forest path . You remain at the approximately same height above the sea level as you continuously stick to the right, because you have to conquer a good quarter of the hill. Cross the gorge, carved by a small stream (water supply network and concrete shaft markings tell you that this is the right way) and you'll soon see the clearing at the end of the forest , where you turn right and uphill at the cart track. The signposts for Sv. Ahac and Mali Lončik are also located there . Reach the first houses along the cart track that runs along the stream now and turn left to the asphalt road at the basketball grounds, and then ascend to the village. Turn left and downhill at the chapel or the sign , and if you have time, turn right and uphill to Sv. Ahac. You'll see Turjak Castle for the first time in Mali Ločnik. Continue along the winding road steeply down to the main road Ljubljana–Kočevje, where you turn left to Turjak. Cross the barely visible Bajdinc Stream in a turn after 200 metres. You can stop a little further on the right and descend past the houses to the stream. The Bajdinc Stream has a spring below Sv. Ahac, right at the site where you've ascended from the forest to the houses in Mali Ločnik. The stream created marvellous four Bajdinc waterfalls by the outflow to the Želimeljščica River. Appropriate shoes and caution are required for visiting the waterfalls as the terrain is steep and slippery. Rosamund must have also visited the Bajdinc Stream, as the murmur of streams even today stimulates imagination and gives inspiration.
After some hundreds of metres you'll reach Turjak - the castle is located approximately 700 metres away from the main road - and your efforts will be rewarded when you see its mighty walls. The castle got its name after the extinct, powerful and aggressive wild cattle tur (urus) which is depicted in the coat-of-arms of Turjak Castle. 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, the 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 stands in front of the castle. Instead of using the linden tree, Prešeren poetised an oak tree in his poem of a beautiful and presumptuous Rosamund of Turjak. By changing the trees, he made fun of the Auerspergs as he refused to ascribe them the symbol of Slovenian identity - the linden tree [S19b]. The remains of the tree-lined alley where knight games took place and where the ladies of the castle (probably Rosamund as well) strolled in the shade of the trees, are still visible at the castle. 500 years ago, at her request, Rosamund's never-to-be-groom, Ostrovrhar, turned right just a little further from the castle and headed towards east and Croatia, and then further to Bosnia to fight the Turks. However, you are heading from Turjak towards north, i.e. to Grosuplje (turn left from the main road, if you didn't descend to the castle). The road ascends a little and reaches the second part of the settlement of Turjak which is also the highest point of the route, and it then descends toward Grosuplje. Before reaching Grosuplje, you cycle past Škocjan where the Church of St. Canzian (Kocjan) is located. The church is located at the site of a former chapel which was built by the first Auerspergs. Primož Trubar was baptised in this church and Jurij Dalmatin worked there as a Protestant priest. The route leads through Velike Lipljene where you turn right at the end of the village, towards Županova jama Cave .
Županova jama Cave and Camp above Cerovo
The road through the forest is macadam, but well-maintained and you'll soon descend along it to Županova jama Cave on the right side of the road. This karst cave consists of several mighty stalactite halls which form a system of passages. The cave was discovered in 1926 by Josip Perme, the mayor of the nearby Št. Jurij pri Grosupljem and arranged it for tourist visitors. The ice hall through which the entrance to the cave is arranged, was already described by Valvasor as a beauty of Dolenjska karst world, while the locals knew it as a cave which served their ancestors as a refuge in the times of Turkish invasions. Not far away is the fortified anti-Turkish camp.
You'll reach the rebuilt camp above Cerovo after 700 metres. The camp served as a defence area of the peasants in times of the battles with the Turks, while the Turjak defenders assured substantial help and as defenders of their religion and country provided constant safety of the wider area. The camp is considered a small fort, but has been entirely preserved and rebuilt and as such testifies of the past times. There is a church within the walls, which was located at the site of a prehistoric settlement and a later Roman stop.
Just beside the road and below the camp, there is a small Puščava sinkhole with a natural karst cavity with an altar and statue of St. Anthony of the Desert, the patron saint of peasants and livestock. The patron is highly esteemed by girls who recommend themselves for good boyfriends and husbands. You can leave a bouquet at the altar and even ring a bell. Did Rosamund also do so or was she so confident of her beauty and fame that she disregarded the tradition?
From knights and Turks to the Romans and the lords
Descend from the camp towards Ponova vas where the macadam ends and you turn right to Grosuplje. Cross the railway line in Grosuplje, turn left to the city centre and, at the glass administrative municipal building, turn back to the main road towards Šmarje-Sap or the motorway. Take a look at the modern statues or sculptures beside the road, which have become a trademark of Grosuplje [S24a]. Turn left before motorway junction towards Cikava and Šmarje-Sap where a former Roman road between northern Italy and Pannonian Plain (Aquileia-Ljubljana-Sisak-Sremska Mitrovica) used to run [S24b]. 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.
Soon after cross the railway line at the chapel in Škofljica , and turn right towards Lanišče. The road steeply ascends through Lanišče and on to Lisičje where a beautiful castle is located left of the road. The castle was built in the 16th century and had one of the largest arranged flower, botanical and fruit garden in Carniola. A marvellous view opens up from the castle . The castle had numerous owners who dwelled there until World War II, but started to decay afterwards. The most urgent renovation work took place in 2010, so that various tourist events can be held there today. Two mighty linden trees on the northern side of the castle are the only reminders of the former magnificent garden.
Not at all noble is the descent from the castle to Selo, as the path is not maintained in the beginning. So swing your bike on your shoulder and carry it across the meadow just next to the motorway fence in direction of Ljubljana, all the way to the forest where you'll find an oblique narrow path some ten metres away from the fence. The path turns to the left and leads you along the gorge of the stream back to the clearing at the motorway, but some 30 metres lower. Cycle along a cart track at the motorway fence to the asphalt road and an underpass under the motorway where you turn right under the motorway . The asphalt road ends on the other side of the motorway and the route continues along the macadam road towards Orle.
Still in the valley, just over the motorway, you'll see a small Močile Pond which was nicely arranged by its owner and where fishermen fish. If you're lucky (or not, depending on the point of view), you might see a rubber boat sliding on the pond's surface. Indeed, enthusiasts like these do exist in Slovenia. You can try the next adrenalin hobby left from the pond - driving remote-controlled cars on an arranged testing ground. The road then ascends past the abandon quarries and to the saddle between Orle and Podmolnik to the asphalt road where you turn left to Orle. Pay attention on the macadam road which leads past the quarries to the saddle, because it is sandy and steep.
Cycle uphill from the saddle along the asphalt road to Orle. Before the first houses on the left, there is a monument commemorating the final battles of the liberation of Ljubljana at the end of World War II . A domesticated doe Nika may greet you at the first house on the left . The road slightly ascends among the houses . A view of the Marshes opens up here and there and you finally turn to the right at a larger junction at the concrete wall, and then ascend to the highest point at Orle. From here on, the road descends along the winding forest path to Rudnik or Dolenjska Road where you turn left to get to the starting point.
Rosamund of Turjak considered herself the most beautiful girl of her time, but still, there was another, even more beautiful than her. Is this route you've just finished the most beautiful one of all? Or do you know another one? Will you find a more beautiful route? Certainly. Just consider the fact that you've cycled almost a 50-kilometre long route and travelled from prehistory up to present time in your mind, while you've seen and learned a lot of new things. Now, this has to account for something, hasn't it?