Dolenjska and Bela Krajina

River Krka - a prominent feature of the region. Photo: STB archive

The countryside of Dolenjska is hilly and varied. A prominent feature of the region is the River Krka, from which the Slovenian pharmaceutical company based in the town of Novo mesto takes its name. Novo mesto is also the site of the Revoz Company, the only car manufacturer in Slovenia, which has for a number of years been the biggest Slovenian exporter. The now French-owned company manufactures the commercially successful Renault Clio II car. Since March 2007 Renault’s new version of twingo has been produced exclusively by the Revoz Company in Novo mesto.

The Slovenian company Adria Mobil d.o.o. from Novo mesto is a successful manufacturer and exporter of caravans and camper vans, known in Western markets under the brand names of ADRIA and ADRIATIK.

Traditional 'dry ware'.

In the valley of the River Krka, many ancient castles can be found, most of which are now in ruins, the only beautifully preserved castle being at Otočec. The part of Dolenjska around the towns of Ribnica and Kočevje is home to traditional wooden ware, also known locally under the name of suha roba (‘dry ware’), as well as pottery. The Kočevje area is covered by vast forests, the largest primeval woodland in Europe and a protected area since 1888, where many wild animals live, such as brown bears, wolves and lynxes.

The early Gothic (1260) cloister in the Stična monastery, the oldest and best preserved foundation of its kind in Slovenia, which is also famous for its illuminated manuscripts. Photo: Luka Fabčič

Dolenjska is also famous for three important medieval monasteries: the Cistercian Abbey of Stična, which also houses the Slovenian Religious Museum; the Pleterje Charterhouse; and the remains of a Cistercian abbey at Kostanjevica, which currently serves as an art gallery. The park surrounding the abbey is a sculpture park known as Forma Viva, where numerous works by international artists are exhibited.

The region known as Bela krajina is isolated from the rest of Slovenia by the Gorjanci hills and is imbued with southern Pannonian traditions. Its isolation explains why it is considered one of the country’s most romantic regions. It is known for its wine-producing slopes, and also for belokranjske pisanice, traditional beautifully decorated Easter eggs.