Hayrack Museum

Photo: Matej Leskovšek

Hayracks (Slov. kozolci) are a farming achievement with hundreds of years of tradition behind them. They demonstrate an incredible aptitude for using natural materials and a mastery of the traditions of carpentry.

The kozolec, a form of hay rack or drying frame, is an unmistakable part of Slovenia's ethnological heritage. 

Individual examples differ greatly in form, size and purpose of use. The most common types are the toplar or double kozolec, the split-level kozolec ("na kozla") and the low kozolec. Single hay racks predominate in the Upper Sava Valley and on the Kranj–Sora Plain. Most hay racks in Dolenjska, south-western Štajerska, northern Primorska, the hills around Škofja Loka, Notranjska, Bela krajina, Koroška and the area around Ljubljana are of the toplar type. The appearance, size and decoration of these hay racks or drying frames, and also the material of which they were built, depended on the wealth of their owner (or the person who commissioned them) and, of course, on the skill of the craftsman who built them. Nowhere else in the world do we find that variety of types and characteristic forms of kozolec that have developed in Slovenia. 

The Land of Hay Racks  in Šentrupert in the Dolenjska region is the first open-air kozolec museum. Several types of kozolec can be seen here. The oldest, "Luka's Kozolec" (originally from Trstenik, north of Kranj) dates from 1795 and is the oldest in the world. These structures were also popular with children, who used them to play hide-and-seek, to swing from, and for other children's games. They were also used for celebrations, the first Masses of newly ordained priests, theatrical performances and a variety of jobs on the farm such as corn husking, stripping leaves from tubers, etc. Sometimes an improvised wine shop or tavern known as a pušlšank (from the German Buschenschank, referring to the bush of twigs hung at the entrance) would be set up in a kozolec to sell locally produced food and wine. A kozolec also provided overnight accommodation for travellers and beggars. Young men would often sleep in them during the summer months.

Hay racks in other European countries do not have roofs and are only used for drying, while those in Slovenia have a much wider range of uses. Almost all of them have a roof and they are used to dry corn, hay, maize, flax, hemp, pulses, tubers, ferns, and so on, and also for storing tools, machinery, planks of wood and grain. The Slovenian type of kozolec can also be found in Austria, Italy and Croatia.  

Text by Tanja Glogovčan