The Slovenia Times

Once Upon a Time in Kamnik



Perhaps we should begin with "Once upon a time..." The atmosphere was set by the colourful and boisterous street vendors tempting children with wooden swords, bows and arrows. Further on, decorated pottery and pillows stuffed and embroidered according to tradition were on display and for sale.

Men were dressed as medieval archers as the ladies in long blue, brown and yellow skirts, topped by bizarre headgear with tassels swinging by their ears. I asked a lady in blue how they felt under their costumes? "Hot and wet..." replied Ms. Andreja Eržen, director of the Agency for Tourism and Development Kamnik, with a smile.

Among the traditional wares and crafts at the market, an old style printing press is on display, while the castle's master is printing Slovene poems on old-fashioned paper for visitors. A herbalist on the next stand is filling a small paper bag with dried tea as she explains to an elderly woman the healing power of the herb arnica. Two men dressed like shield-bearers play an old game called "Marjanca" under the awning of their stand, hooting at each other like children...

The Medieval Days in Kamnik started on Friday with a children's group program "The Search for Veronika's Treasure at Mali Grad". On Saturday, the program began again at Mali Grad above the old town centre, where the members of the Knights of Gašper Lamberger from Bled prepared sword fighting and fire dancing performances in front of Veronika's cavalry. The scene then moved to Trg Svobode, downtown, where visitors enjoyed the Renaissance dances of the Lonca Dance Group from Škofje Loka. The afternoon in Kamnik progressed with the performance of Gallenberg Vaganti. A group playing music on the original medieval musical instruments brought the day to a climax. As they played, the antique dealers and street vendors relaxed notably, and a knitter simply smiled foolishly while sitting on a high folding chair.

A few thousand people from all over Slovenia visited the 12th Medieval Days in Kamnik. Perhaps this is partly due to the legend of Veronkia, a half woman - half snake creature whose mysteries brought an enticing enigma to the festivities.

No one exactly knows how old the medieval town of Kamnik is. Situated only 23 kilometres from the capital Ljubljana, it was first mentioned in the middle of the 12th century. During this time, the city was protected by Stari Grad (the Old Castle) and Mali Grad (the Small Castle). Kamnik was a strategically important and flourishing trading town with its own mint. Today the town has 12,000 inhabitants with the municipality of Kamnik counting a little more than 26,000 people. The architecture of the centre, with narrow streets, Renaissance - Baroque facades and a Franciscan monastery with a treasure of 10,000 antique books including the original Bible of Jurij Dalmatin (1589) and some others predating the year 1500 continue to remind us of the famous history of the town.


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