The village of Ravne pri Cerknem: a lying giant with feet in the Idrijca river


Welcome to the village of Ravne pri Cerknem, which lies in the very center of the Cerkno region. Viktor Prezelj, the author of all historical information quoted in this presentation, described the area in his book Moje Ravne (Eng. My Ravne), with a metaphor of a lying giant:

»His feet are slightly stretched, bent at a 50° angle in the knees, his soles are soaking in the river of Idrijca: the left at Želin and the right at Reka. The legs are separated by a small valley, which starts somewhere at the altitude of 400 m, half-way between Reka and Želin. […] This little valley separates the two legs all the way to the base of Osredek, which will serve as the ridge of a belly. The left flank of the lying man would be the Mali Kovk hill and the right one of Leče. From Osredek the terrain rises gradually towards the Veliki Kovk hill, which represents our man’s head. The left upper arm, stretched towards Cerkno, is represented by Ključ, and the arm from here on across the Medvejk hill towards the Cerknica stream. The man is sticking out his right arm towards Orehovska Grapa. This arm is represented by Radamažna and the ridge towards the Kranjc farm.«

On foot through Čelo, from Želin or from Reka

The hills of this giant are mostly covered with trees on the slopes, while the flat parts, which the village was named after (raven – flat = Ravne), are cultivated. Today the village has a little more than 160 residents, who mostly live in two compact settlements: Gorenje Ravne and Dolenje Ravne. The highest point, at 839 m ASL, is the Veliki Kovk hill.

The village can be accessed by car from Zakriž. Many footpaths lead to Ravne as well, which are more and more popular among locals and tourists searching for a break. You can reach Ravne from Cerkno through the small village of Čelo and no less attractive are also the paths from Želin and Orehovska Grapa. More heavily vegetated, but still passable and visible are also the paths that lead to Ravne from Reka.

The Zora society with almost one hundred years of tradition

Social events mostly take place at the Ravne cultural center, which was built by the hard-working locals in the 1970s. The center is also the home of the Zora Ravne cultural society, which was established already in 1921 as the Zora Slovene educational society. Part of its program was a society library and they also performed plays. The first play to be performed on 18 June 1922 was the Slovene comedy Tri Sestre (Eng.: Three Sisters).

The society was abolished due to the pressure of fascist authorities in 1927 and experienced a boom after being re-established in 1946. The exceptional theatre section performed a series of plays in the next decades, among them: Kralj na Betajnovi (Eng. The King of Betajnova), the young adult play Oliver Twist, and the folk play Dekle iz Trente (Eng. The Girl from Trenta).

Traditional and alternative music

Nowadays, the Zora Ravne cultural society organizes a few major events per year. The Ravnanske Podokničarke choir organized the already traditional event, the 10th Pozdrav Jeseni (Eng. A Greeting to Autumn) in the fall of 2016. Apart from promising local theater and musical talents, the choir also hosted many well-known Slovene performers at the event.

Traditional is also the alternative music festival called Rad bi bil normalen (Eng. I want to be normal), which hosts the best music groups of this genre from Slovenia and abroad. Not to be left out is also the Easter party, which is known all over Slovenia.

Sixty years of firefighting

Apart from being active in the KUD Zora cultural society, the villagers also socialize in the Ravne volunteer firefighting department, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. The department decided to renovate and expand the fire station on this occasion.

Resourcefully to an independent parish

In 1650 the village Church of St. Ulrich was built in Ravne, which was thoroughly renovated between the years 1906 and 1908.

An anecdote says that the parish was declared independent thanks to a resourceful local who took the commission along the longer route through Zakriž, instead of the shorter one through Čelo, and so proved the necessary distance in kilometers.

The priest Ivan Mozetič served in the village for many years, returned to the village after retirement, built his home here, and is now also buried in Ravne. He was known as an exceptional expert on herbs, with which he healed people from the area and elsewhere. One of his students was also friar Simon Ašič.

The archbishop of Gorizia Franz B. Sedej also lived in Ravne as a war refugee for a while in 1915 and managed the archdiocese of Gorizia from here. The Church of St. Ulrich is part of the famous pentagram composed by the churches in the area, about which Ivan Mohorič wrote.

Underground wonders

Until several years ago, the village was definitely most known for its cave called Ravenska Jama. Its distinctive feature is the rich formation of snow white aragonite crystal overlays, shaped into a wide range of various needles. The most beautiful are the clusters of needles shaped like a hedgehog. The cave was discovered by coincidence in 1832 by a local, but he soon walled up the entrance to it, convinced that the discovery was to be blamed for the hail in the next years.

At the beginning of the 20th century the cave was explored by mountaineers from the Cerkno region and in the time between both World Wars by Italian speleologists. Casual visitors caused a lot of damage to the formations in the cave, so after 1956 it was at first decided that the cave was only going to be open to the professional public, but the 352-m-long system of tunnels in three levels again became a tourist attraction in later years.

Unfortunately, the cave has been closed for visitors for quite a few years now and has already faded into obscurity. How diverse the underground in Ravne is was proved by the discovery of a new cave in 2005, which the cavers suspect is connected to the old one. Yet untouched aragonite clusters were discovered in this cave. Access to this cave is also still impossible.