Ljubljansko barje

Ljubljana Marsh - a rare wetland

The Ljubljansko barje (Ljubljana marsh) is the largest Slovenian and most southern wetland of Europe. It is a place of exceptional natural riches being among the minority of wetlands left in Europe, about 30 % have survived. Located in the southwest urban edge of the capital city Ljubljana, the barje covers the largest unforested area in Slovenia. This area is important for the conservation of plant and animal species already on endangered species lists in Europe.

Barje is in the distilled collective memory in Slovenia as a lake as shown in the writer Janez Jalen’s famous historical novel about pile dwellers “Bobri” (Beavers). Beavers were driven away from the Barje, when the lake there dried up about 6,000 years ago. Barje is inhabited by about 45 mammal species, including the rare European otter seen along the Ljubljanica and Iščica rivers.

A large marshy plain, it is marked by grasslands, woodlands, fields, ditches and hedges. This is a 163 square-kilometre basin accommodating a wide variety of birds. Although Barje covers only 1 % of Slovenia's territory, it is the breeding site of about a half, i.e. more than 100, of all Slovenian bird species. Grassland birds, such as corn crake, whin chat, Eurasian curlew, stonechat and common quail, abound. According to the criteria of conservation legislation for endangered species and habitats of countries in the European Union, Slovenia declared the entire Barje as a protected area and site of the Natura 2000 network.

Barje is a significant cultural area for traces of settlement which date back to the Middle Stone Age (around 5000 BC). The settlements were built on wooden piles on the lake, these settlements were called pile or lake dwellings. The last lake dwelling is believed to have survived until the Bronze Age (around 1000 BC). In 2002 the important find was the world's oldest wooden wheel, dating from 3350 to 3100 BC. The finds from Barje include more than 10,000 objects, kept at museums in Ljubljana and other countries.

A cultural monument of the modern era is The Church of St. Michael on the Barje (Cerkev sv. Mihaela), the architectural masterpiece designed by architect Jože Plečnik. The church, as in ancient times, is constructed on piles. The interior design is exceptionally beautiful modelled on the Shinto temples of Japan.

Learning activities

1. Design a poster
Text- type: poster
Linguistic element: noun - proper, verb - tenses
Design a poster promoting protecting flora and fauna of Barje

2. Construct a booklet
Text- type: booklet, list
Linguistic element: vocabulary of dates and times
Present a list of the species protected in Barje

3. Script a dialogue
Text- type: dialogue
Linguistic element: noun, pronoun - interrogative
Plan a day trip at Barje
4. Write a speech
Text- type: speech
Linguistic element: direct speech, pronoun, complex sentences
Give a speech at a community meeting about protecting Barje

5. Write debating notes
Text- type: debate
Linguistic element: conventions of debate, conjunctions, adverb
Perform a debate on conservation and development issues

6. Write a magazine article
Text type: article
Linguistic element: compound sentences, adjective
Write article on natural and cultural treasures of Barje



Črna vas, Ljubljana

Environment Agency of the Republic of Slovenia


Ljubljansko barje

Village of Črna vas and Ljubljansko barje

Atlas Slovenije, Mladinska knjiga, Geodetski zavod Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1992
Stritar, A, Izleti po ljubljanski okolici, Sidarta, Ljubljana, 1994
Slovenija, Turistični vodnik, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1995


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