Lamberg’s path

A path full of mysteries and surprises leads you past the ruins of the Kamen (Stone) castle to the Draga valley.

dolzina 7,7 km visina 160 m cas 2-3 h
1 Arheological site Njivice 3 Devil’s manor house 2 The Zijalka cave
4 The Kamen Castle 5 Hostages burial site

Arheological site Njivice

Archeological site Njivice below Jamarski vrh (Cave Peak) dates back to the Old Iron Age which marked the last millennium B.C. It is a characteristic type of Iron Age settlement, the so called ancient tort. The settlement is divided into two parts: the Big Njivioe in the east and the Little Njivice in the west. The interior of the east part holds visible traces of buildings’ foundations which were arranged from east ot west. The entrance to the ancient fort was on the west side. During the trial excavations carried out by the Museum of Gorenjska from Kranj in 1961 the fragments of ceramics and animal bones were found.

Side view of arheological sounding

The Zijalka cave

The Zijalka Cave is the oldest memorial of human activity in the broader vicinity of Begunje. The prominent opening in the vertical layers of Trias limestone is 14 meters deep, 16 meters wide and 7 meters high. It is possible that the cave was used as a refuge already in the Early Iron Age. The presence of people in the Iron Age (1850 – 1000 B. C.) is seen from the findings of stone quern, weights for weaving loom and numerous other smaller fragments of ceramics. Both sides of the entrance show that the stone has been dressed and arranged for the wall to be leaned which is still visible today.

Image: Cross section of arheological layer in Zijalka cave (M. Brodar, arheološki vestnik)

Devil’s manor house

Devil’s or Goblin’s Manor House is a 45-metre long walled karst cavel in the rock wall of Gabe. The cave fortress from the 12th oentury was probably used as an observation point or as a periodic place of refuge. The fortress has no doors and is practicaly inaccessible which served as a base for its name, namely the Devi’s Manor House. The name originates from the poptlar belief that the devil itself has been tricked into the cave and then walled in because he did not allow the Kamen Castle to be built The visit to the interior of the Devil’s Manor House is not allowed.

Ground plan and side view of Devil’s Castle (narisal Slavko Gašperšič)

“In the vicinity of the Kamen Castle one can find a hole in the rock which is walled up and has a small four-handed opening or a small window which is tumed inwards. Peasants named it the Goblin’s Castle. The story about the castle is passed on by oral tradition. The story goes like this: when the Kamen Castle was meant to be built the evil spirit did not allow it and he pulled down at night what the people have built during the day. At last he allowed the construction under the condition that they put up another castle for him nearby. Therefore the people cleaned the cave, put in a small stone plate and walled it up but left a small opening. lt is impossible to climb to it or look through it without a ladder. lpresume that something strange must have happened otherwise l am not sure what the purpose of that hole was. Some people say that it is used to chase away the enemy because it is possible to shoot at him through the opening in case he approached the cave. But at the same time people are not aware of the fact that the cave has got no entrance, not even an opening big enough for a mouse to squeeze through and the window would be too small for a cat to pass through.”
(Janez Vajkard Valvasor, The Glory of the Duthy of Carniola, Book 11, p. 548.)

The Kamen castle

The Kamen (Stone) castle was built in the 12th century by the counts of Ortenburg and on their behalf it was managed by the castellans (among others the noble Stainers or Stones). The castle was built on a rocky terrace at the entrance to the Draga valley. The Kamen (Stone) castle, first mentioned in 1145, was an important stronghold protecting the ancient cargo path over the Prevala Pass to Carinthia. When the Counts of Ortenburg died their estate was taken over by the Counts of Celje. In 1428 Count Herman lll of Celje was fatally wounded during his fall from the horse. In 1469 Jurij Lamberg purchased the castle. During the reign of the Counts of Lamberg the castle reached its peak size and glory. The most prominent member of the family was the knight Gasper Lambergar, the winner of more than 85 tournament contests, who is also praised in a folk song called “Pegam and Lambergar’. In the beginning of the 18th century the castle finally lost its protective and defensive function therefore its owners, the Counts of Lamberg, left it. The windows and doors were most probably used for the restoration of the Katzenstein manor house. The villagers were supposed to move the tiles from the castle’s roof to the parish church of St. Urh in Begunje. The end of the delapidation of the castle coincides with the beginning of the presen/ation works on the castle in 1959. On the highest point of the castle, on the left, the pilgrimage tower dating back to the 12th century is situated. In the 14th century, on the lower part of the rocky terrace, where once the oldest part of the castle was situated, a Gothic residential area on four floors was built. After the big earthquake in 1511 both towers were joined in a renaissance unity. In the times of the Early Baroque terraced gardens and farm buildings were formed. Parts of furniture from the abandoned castle church of St. Valentine were transported to the parish church in Begunje.

Grad Kamen

From left: The Kamen Castle | The Kamen Castle (J.V. Valvasor Slava Vojvodine Kranjske) | Kindred Lamberg’s coat of arms extended with Podvinski coat of arms (The Tournament book of knight Gaspar Lamberger, 1509)

Hostages burial site in The Draga valley

Between August 1941 and May 1942 the Nacis shot 161 prisoners from the Begunje prison here. They were buried in eleven mass graves together with 20 partisans who were killed nearby in 1944 and 1945. The memonal site in Draga with tombstones in the shape of triangular prisms was designed by the architect Edvard Ravnikar in 1952-53. The statue of a hostage (a cast) is the work of the sculptor Boris Kalin.

From left: Statue of prisoner outside the Begunje Manor | Execution of hostage near Smlednik, August 1941 | Memorial solomness on November 1st 1945 (Photograph: Slavko Smolej)
Cartographic map
Google map