The Karst Edge Run
The Karst edge is a landmark between the Mediterranean and continental Slovenia. On its southern side there lays Istria, on its northern side are Karst, Brkini and Čičarija. It is an extension of the Alps, which goes from the Italian Devin above Trieste, through Slovenia and finishes before the Croatian port town of Rijeka. The Edge is up to 500 metres high and has several shelfs. Its edges are made of limestone, its steps are fertile plains. It has several peaks, including Slavnik and Žbevnica. The highest peak is at the end of the edge: Mount Učka, which rises from the coast to an altitude of 1400 metres above sea level.
As a natural border that is difficult to pass, it was also suitable as a political border. In the past it was the dividing line between the Patriarchate of Aquileia and the Habsburg Monarchy, later between the Venetian Republic and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Today, however, we can run on it and experience very special nature.
A pleasant starting point for the run is the village of Zazid, which lies at an altitude of 387m. The village has old names - Xaxid, Saxetum, Villa Saxida, dating from the Greek and Roman periods. Cicero wrote: Saxetum locus saxosus - Zazid, a stone place. The village was surrounded by a defensive wall in the Middle Ages, so the name Zazid was originally derived from the meaning of the village behind the wall. From Zazid we head to Rakitovec, which is - 5 kilometres away - the last village in this part of Slovenia. The Rakitovec railway station is also the last Slovenian stop on the Kozina-Pula route and is here often dug into solid karst stone. Just a few steps on there is the Slovenia-Croatia road border crossing. In the centre of the small village there is muddy water and maybe it was because of that water that they built the village here. In these germs the watertight layer retained water even during the dry summer months. In the village there are some interesting houses with a characteristic wooden balcony - baladur and a typical bulging extension, above which is a chimney. We continue through those houses and up to the Karst Edge. On our seventh kilometre, the macadam trail will lead us to the Kavčič and Lipnik hills, where the landscape is something special. From some points it could be quite similar to that on the moon. Interesting hills invite us to conquer them and enjoy an even more beautiful view, but we can also immediately run along the softly laid path on the shelf of the Karst Edge back towards Zazid. This unusual land is difficult to describe, the best is to experience it, smell it and feel it under our feet, all 14 kilometres that are offered to us this time, or more, if we choose to climb up towards Kavčič and Lipnik.
After lunch in one of the very tasty local restaurants I recommend a visit to Hrastovlje, which is well know because of its Holy Trinity Church, whose interior is all painted with famous frescoes, the most prominent of which is the mortuary dance. The message of the fresco is that we are all equal before death. How true, but until then it is all up to us how to make our life more or less satisfying and interesting.
Not far from the church stands a statue of an Istrian woman. The sculptor, Jože Pohlen, made it on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the creation of the frescoes (1492 - 1992). The woman is called Šavrinka and she has a load on her head, a basket of produce she was bringing to sell in Trieste. Despite the baskets weight, or precisely because of it, she walks upright, as if she had a city lady's hat on her head. She walked a long way, and was thus strong, enduring, courageous and wise: in Trieste she learned languages and trading skills. Along with the earnings she brought urban habits and culture to her village home. From that grew her confidence and determination. Let's step on some of her paths, as she, undoubtedly, sometimes also runs on them.
How to get to Zazid?
Leave the coastal highway at the Črni Kal exit and drive along the former main road towards Koper. After about 1 km you will reach the Y intersection. Turn towards Pula here. After 500 metres turn left, there will be signs for Zazid and other places through which you will drive (Predloka, Loka, Bezovica, Podpeč). Take the local narrow road for about 7 km through these places and reach Zazid. Park before the village sports park.