Po poteh dediščine Dolenjske in Bele krajine

THE MIRNA PEČ VALLEY





The spring at Zijalo


The river below the spring


River meanders at Mirna Pec


The Ponors of the river
below Vrhovo



The church of sv. Ana


The Parish church


The Parish church


The church on Mali Vrh


Zingel chapel in Biska vas

THE RIVER TEMENICA

The Temenica is one of the best known disappearing streams in Dolenjska, twice disappearing underground on its way to its confluence with the river Krka. It, thus, flows through the dark karst underworld for a good part of its course, which is probably the reason why the river acquired its name. The river rises on the southern slopes of the Posavske hribovje (Posavje hills). It has cut a relatively shallow valley in the impervious rock of its upper reaches. It flows over limestone below Trebnje and disappears into large swallow holes at Dolenje Ponikve. It usually disappears into two walled chasms. The fossil river channel can be traced in the broken karst surface for a good two kilometres after this point. The dry blind valley terminates beneath the Sveta Ana hill, the location of the final Risanica swallow hole. There is a syphon lake in its base, in which all trace of the underground stream disappears.

The broad Sveta Ana hill is the natural boundary between the Temenica and Mirna peč valleys. The underground river flows through at a great depth and reaches the surface at the impressively high cliffs of the Zijalo cave. The strong spring lies at the base of a picturesque 35m high rocky cliff. Behind the siphon spring lies a 60 metre long and 12 metre deep submerged tunnel, which has not yet been fully explored. There are two smaller caves in the cliff face above the spring: Fantovska luknja (the Boys' Hole) and Ajdovska jama (the Giants Cave), which have associated folk traditions. There are a series of permanent springs beneath the vent-hole, which feed the river.

The flow of the river Temenica beneath Zijalo calms down in the bottom of a deeply incised river valley. The village of Vrhpec is located on the terraces above the valley. It is named after the rocky "peč" (cliff) at Zijalo. The narrow valley opens out below Biska vas into the undulating terraced countryside of the Mirna peč valley. It has gained its recognisable form from the river Temenica, with its gentle meanders, varied riverside vegetation and water meadows, which are transformed into a great lake when the river is in spate. The varied valley bottom and freshwater vegetation offer refuge to many animal species, especially fish.

The river meanders through the floodplain to the swallow holes (ponors) at Goriška vas, where it disappears beneath the surface for a second time. The dry valley below Vrhovo is visible in the surface relief, particularly during heavy rainfall, when it is usually flooded. The underground stream is inaccessible for a length of two kilometres, because it flows deep beneath the karst massif of Brezova rebra. The third and final source of the Temenica is at Luknja. The river flows to the surface in the picturesque blind valley of Luknja, which terminates in the impressive amphitheatre of the rocky cliffs of a swallow hole. The river spring issues forth in spate from the cliff base, from which the waters of the Dobrniško polje and the Globodolsko polje, as well as those of the Temenica rise to the surface. The ruins of the formerly mighty Luknja castle stand above the spring. The Temenica emerges from the narrow valley into the wide Zaloško polje. It slows down in wide meanders and almost unnoticed flows into the river Krka. 

MIRNA PEČ

The settlement of Mirna Peč developed beside the former Ljubljana - Zagreb road in the middle section of the Temenica valley. There are several explanations for the origin of the unusual name, but the most likely is the form, which derives from the German variant of the name "Hönigstein", that is Honey cliff. The changes in pronunciation have led to the modern name. The German name may relate to the honey coloured rocks at Zijalo, the source of the river Temenica to the north of the settlement.

The immediate environs of Mirna Peč lay in a favourable geographical position for settlement in prehistory, when the then inhabitants were largely concerned with iron extraction. Later, from the Middle Ages onwards, the development of the settlement was dependant on the important trade route from Ljubljana to Suha krajina, Karlovac and Zagreb, which is borne out by the numerous shops and carters' inns. The construction of the railway in 1894 and the later Ljubljana-Zagreb highway turned the area into a communications cul-de-sac, but economic growth has increased again since 1999, when Mirna Peč became a commune centre.

THE PARISH CHURCH OF SV. KANCIJAN (ST.CANCIANUS)

The first mention of the parish and settlement dates to around 1135, but the church of St. Cancianus itself first appears in written sources in 1433. The foundation date of the parish is unknown, but the patron saint of the church, St. Cancianus and his comrades, suggests that this was the seat of a very old pre-parish on the left bank of the river Krka, possibly on the site of an Aquileian missionary outpost. The founder was almost certainly the Patriarch of Aquileia, because worship of Cancianus, Cancius, Cancianilla in Protus was widespread in the area of the Patriarchate of Aquileia from the 5th century onwards, particularly at Skocjan on the Soča, where all four martyrs were first buried after their execution. Churches in honour of these martyrs were frequently erected beside rivers in deep channels and above underground streams, so the choice of this patron for the church at Mirna Peč is not surprising. The early importance of the pre parish is indicated by its former extent. Many later independant parishes, such as Soteska, Kamence and Novo mesto, were formerly subordinate to the Mirna Peč parish.

The Habsburg electors gained the living of the parish in the 14th and 15th centuries. One of these, the emperor Frederick III granted it to the newly founded Collegiate Chapter at Novo mesto as its foundation estate in 1493. 

The original form and date of the first church building at Mirna Peč is unknown, but last building before the present building, a Gothic church. The present church preserves its important elements, the earlier, Gothic presbytery as a side chapel and the lower part of the belfry. The location, written sources and old church plans suggest that the Gothic church, partially converted to the Baroque style in the 17th century, was too restricted for such a large parish. This was the main reason for its enlargement The most important element from an art-historical point of view is the well-preserved Gothic presbytery, which is distinguished by a muscled scheme of vaulting ribs, resting on geometric consoles, as well as three pointed windows in the terminal sides, decorated, decorated with geometric stone tracery. The design characteristics of the above building elements and masons' marks on the ribs indicate that the Gothic church was built by the masons, who also built the presbytery of present parish church in Mirna around 1463, when it was a filial of the parish at Šentrupert. Thus, the construction of the Gothic church in Mirna Peč can be placed in the period between 1460 and1470. In 1500 the imminent Turkish peril led the Novo mesto canons to request the emperor Maximillian I for permission to build a rampart around the church, which was depicted with round towers by the traveller Klobučarič in 1603. The ruined rampart survived until 1856, when the rampart stones were used to build the new school.   

Preparations for the construction of a new church took place during the tenure of the parish priest Anton Zore in 1907. A year later the architect Josip Vancaš from Sarajevo, the author of the church at Prečna and the Seminaries of Sv. Stanislav in Ljubljana, prepared all the necessary plans for the new church. However, local opposition meant that building only began in 1914, immediately before the First World War, which led to delays in the building, because many masons were called up during this time. Work was finished in 1917. Distinguished executants included those from Ljubljana, Ivan Ogrin as builder and the Seravalli brothers as sculptors. The church suffered only minor damage from shelling in the Second World War, so that the only major change to the building since construction is the raising of the height of the belfry some years ago, which is in reality the conclusion of the new church construction.

The architect conceived the new church as a simple single-aisled hall space with a polygonal presbytery. The Neo-gothic style of the church is best reflected on the northern entry facade, which is decorated by a stepped portal with a relief decorated lunette, which depicts the enthroned Christ, surrounded by the symbols of the Evangelists. The remainder of the exterior and the interior are almost plain. The only exception is the presbytery that harks after Gothic ribbed vaulting and the vault in the nave, which is supported by internal supports. The church furniture is distinguished by the stone main altar in Neo-gothic style, the 1922 work of the Ljubljana mason Feliks Toman. The statues of the angels were made by the sculptor Ivan Pengov. The tabernacle was erected in 1918. Of the other furniture mention should be made of the glasswork with images of various saints, the work of a Tyrolean factory in Innsbruck.

The most notable of the remaining buildings in the settlement is the Old Rectory beside the church. The stone building inscription, dated 1777, indicates that the building is Baroque in origin, but was completely refurbished in the 19th century. The cemetery was located around the church until 1825, but is now to be found on a hill to the south of the village, where the chapel of the Holy Cross was erected in 1828.  

THE ŽINGERJEVA KAPELICA (ZINGER CHAPEL) IN BIŠKA VAS

The former main road from Mirna Peč to Ljubljana leads to Biška vas. An open roadside chapel with a storied prolongation containing niches was erected before 1837 beside the Zinger house (Biška vas no.19), which dates to 1804. In 1837 an unknown artist from the workshop of the late Baroque artist Leopold Layer decorated the exterior with polychrome decoration (pillars, vases, drapery), which place the chapel amongst the most interesting of its type in Slovenia. The neighbouring house no. 20 with the year 1874 above its portal was once a typical carters' inn.

THE CHURCH OF SV. ANA (ST: ANN) ON GRADIŠČE

The picturesque Vrh sv. Ane hill rises above the settlement of Vrhpec to the north of Biška vas. The strategic location of this hill led to development of a hillfort (gradišče) here in the Early Iron Age (8th to 4th century BC). A barrow cemetery and a flat cemetery were located on the eastern slopes of the hill at this time. The settlement was defended by a rampart, which is still partially visible today. The church of Sv. Ana, first mentioned in 1526, was erected on the summit at a much later date. The medieval origin of the present church, more precisely the 13th or 14th century, is borne out by the pointed portal and the Late Romanesque window in the southern side of the nave, which was recorded during the last renovation. The 18th century saw the construction of the present presbytery and sacristy, as well as the addition of a belfry on the western end. A new altar was also added in the 18th century. This is adorned with statues of St. Ann, St. Barbara, an unknown saint and angels.  

THE CHURCH OF SV. MATEJ (ST: MATTHEW) ON MALI VRH

The church of sv. Matej (Matev) on Mali vrh, to the south of Mirna Peč, is a filial church of the Mirna Peč parish, which has a similar select position in the landscape to that of the church of sv. Ana. It is first mentioned in 1453, but the modern church structure is largely derived from the 17th and 18th centuries, when the church was also equipped with new altars.  

VISITS: Visitors can view the interior of the churches by prior appointment at the Župnijski urad Mirna Peč (Mirna Peč Parish Office), Rožna ulica 10, 8216 Mirna Peč, tel.: 07/307-8733 and 07/307-8734. Other information is available from the Občina Mirna Peč, Trg 2, 8216 Mirna Peč, tel. 07/307-8706, fax 07/307-8707, E-mail: obcina.mirnapec@siol.net