||In the western part of Slovenia, where the Dinaric Alps of the Balkans meet the Eastern Alps, where karst merges into the pre-Alpine hills, the Idrijca River along with its confluents has formed a natural habitat that to this day remains pure and intact.
To protect nature’s riches, this area has been proclaimed a natural park encompassing the basin of Idrijca from its spring all the way to the town of Idrija, a distance of almost 30 km covering the entire land of 4,230 hectares. Steep slopes cut their way through the landscape and descend into the deep valleys of Idrijca and Belca rivers along with their confluents. The vast forests and rather inaccessible areas provide a good habitat for many animal species, some even endangered. The waters with their pools and rapids represent one of the many common features of the park and through their murmur and freshness provide us with cold air during hot summer months and make us aware of their presence.
The park covers the territories of nature reserves where no man has set foot before, also including archaeological and technical monuments, natural phenomena, vivid flora and fauna. The natural park extends over the landscape in the western part of Slovenia, where the Dinaric Alps of the Balkans meet the Eastern Alps and karst blends in with the pre-Alpine hills. In other words it is located between the Julian Alps in the North and plateau Trnovska planota in the South. The terrain is very uneven with narrow deep valleys, even gorges; the slopes cut their way through the landscape and descend to the deep valleys of the Idrijca and Belca River and their confluents. Precipitation is frequent here; in the centre of the park the precipitation rate increases up to 3,000 mm per m². In fact, the large masses of water are to blame for once plateau-like land transforming into the rugged landscape of steep slopes above the narrow valleys. However, the sufficient quantities of water also enable the growth of exuberant vegetation.
The vast forests and almost impassable areas provide good habitat for many, some even endangered, animal and plant species. In terms of botany the most intriguing areas are to be located around the lake Divje jezero, lowlands of Sončni rob and Hudo polje. The diversity of the environment is demonstrated by a large number of animal species, of which only game has been thoroughly studied and observed so far, although bird species are also well-known.
The basin of Zgornja Idrijca river from the town Idrija all the way to its spring represents the park’s borderlines, roughly speaking. The border runs mostly along the watershed, the entire park extends over 4,230 hectares, 4,105 of which cover fairly well-preserved and healthy forests making this habitat one of the most forested and steeped areas in Slovenia and its immediate vicinity. Barren surfaces can only be found near tourist farms, some riverbanks and, as expected, on extremely steep and somewhat rocky slopes. The lowest point is considered to be the part of the park which extends to the town of Idrija – 320 m, beneath the forest reserve Golaki it reaches an altitude as high as 1450 m above sea level, which is yet another feature that adds to the diversity and richness of the park. In terms of geology this area tends to be complex and uneven which is also proven by numerous areas full of fossil finds. Beneath the Sončni rob and Hudo polje we can find the moraine dams, the legacy of the ice age in these parts of the land. In the park we can also find deep karst, where the focus is on the lake Divje jezero, whereas in the western part, we come across the more isolated karst with small pits, sinkholes and other karstic phenomena.
This area is inhabited by approximately 200 residents; they live in harmony with the environment in the central area where the main valley alongside the confluence of the Idrijca and Belca river begins to spread out, and on the upper parts of sunny slopes. On the pass between the Idrijca Valley and the valley of Trebuša late an antique wall from the 3rd and 4th century AD is located and it used to guard the passage between the two valleys. Only after mercury had been found in Idrija, more people started to settle in this area; more and more wood was needed for the mine, and they also began to exploit the richness of the woods and the power of the waters. Today we can observe some outstanding technical monuments within this natural park, including the large water wheel at the entrance of the park and the mighty water barriers in the very centre of the park.
During the last two years of World War II they ran a hospital in almost impassable regions. The hospital provided shelter for around 1,600 wounded men. The park still harbours areas of nature reserves, where no man has yet set foot.