The Slovenia Times

France Prešeren's birthplace to be restored and reinvented

The birthplace of France Prešeren (1800-1849), Slovenia's national poet. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

The birthplace of Slovenia's national poet France Prešeren (1800-1849) in the village of Vrba in the northwest of the country will undergo a €2.9 million renovation that will turn the entire homestead into a modern museum complex within two years.

The house where Prešeren was born on 3 December 1800 attracts between 20,000 and 25,000 visitors each year, the largest numbers on Slovenian Culture Day, celebrated on 8 February, the anniversary of the poet's death.

The renovation project will involve the restoration of the house, which already serves as a museum, as well as the outbuilding, which has not been accessible to visitors so far.

The latter, a former farm building, will serve as a reception centre, thus opening up much needed additional space in the main house to allow it to shine as a proper monument.

The outbuilding will also feature a small shop, a cloakroom, a space for an exhibition dedicated to selected themes related to Prešeren, and visitor restrooms. The upper floor will be turned into a multi-purpose events venue.

Signing the renovation contract on 7 June, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko noted the important place that Prešeren's birthplace holds in Slovenia's cultural heritage, history and collective memory.

"It is not only a heritage monument, it has an important symbolic meaning for the whole nation," she said.

The renovation project, backed by EU funds, was entrusted to builder Kovinar Gradnje ST, and needs to be completed by 2026 at the latest. The plan is for the construction work to start this month and be finished in eight months.

Leopold Pogačar, the mayor of Žirovnica, a municipality that also includes Vrba, expects the project will turn Vrba into an "epicentre of Slovenian culture".

Prešeren is considered Slovenia's greatest poet. He introduced Romantic poetic forms to Slovenian literature and became a master of the sonnet. He and his circle had a profound influence on the development of Slovenian literature.

His masterpieces include Sonetni Venec (A Wreath of Sonnets), a collection of sonnets dedicated to his unrequited love for Julija Primic, and Krst pri Savici (The Baptism at the Savica Waterfall), an epic lyric poem describing Slovenia's conversion to Christianity.

He is best known for his poem Zdravljica (A Toast), the seventh stanza of which became Slovenia's national anthem. He is also featured on the Slovenian €2 coin and his statue adorns the central point of the country's capital. The top national prizes for achievements in arts and culture bear his name as well.

His birthplace in Vrba, not far from Bled, opened to the public as a museum in 1939. A memorial plaque on the facade of the building was unveiled at the initiative of the Slovenian Writers' Association in 1872 with the event attracting more than 4,000 people according to news reports of the time.


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