Bovec is a small city and municipality in northwestern Slovenia. The city of Bovec lies in the Bovec Basin in the Soca Valley below the mountains of Kanin in the Julian Alps. The nearest airport is at Ljubljana and the nearest train station to Bovec is at Tarvisio. Between two gothic churches lies a square with typical Bovec houses, friendly restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is a town just by Triglav National Park and is the center of the Upper Soca valley. There are some unique villages in the land of Bovec like Srpenica, Zaga, Log Cezsoski, Cezsoca, Pluzna, Log pod Mangrtom, Kal-Koritnica, Lepena, Soca, and Trenta.
Bovec is one of the 211 municipalities of Slovenia. It is situated located close to the border with Italy, 136 km from the capital Ljubljana, at an altitude of 434 m. It has been traditionally part of the Goriska region, but nowadays only a minority of locals share this regional identity, preferring to identify with the wider region of the Slovenian Littoral. A part of the Bovec municipality is located within the Triglav National Park, but not Bovec itself.
Two of the most important mountain passes in the Julian Alps are located in the Bovec municipality namely the Predil Pass on the border between Slovenia and Italy, and the Vrsic Pass, which connects the Soca Valley to the neighboring Slovenian region of Upper Carniola. The Ucja or Uccea connects Bovec with the Resia Valley in Italy.
History of Bovec
The earliest mention of Bovec is from 1174, but the history of this area stretches much further back in time – to the Roman road through Predel and to the finds from the early Iron Age. In the past for it was important to trade route between the port of Triest and Vienna that passed the town. Later, the Bovec area was affected by the 1st World War battles. Today you can follow the traces from that time on the Walks of Peace.
Initially, it was part of the Tolmin County, and later changed hands between the Republic of Venice and the Counts of Gorizia, before being included in the Habsburg Monarchy, like the majority of Slovene-speaking territories. With the exception of a brief period between 1809 and 1813, when it was included under the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, it remained under the Austrian rule until 1918.
During the Austro-Hungarian period, the town was included in the Austrian Littoral and was strongly influenced by German culture. Many locals preferred the use of German language over Slovene until late 19th century when Slovene prevailed and ultimately completely replaced German as the language of everyday communication.
Bovec in World War
During World War One, the area was the theatre of the Battles of the Isonzo, fought between Italy and Austria-Hungary. In 1918, the whole area was occupied by the Italian Army, and in 1920 it was officially annexed to Italy and included in the Julian March region. Between 1922 and 1943, Bovec and the neighboring villages, which had an exclusively Slovene-speaking population, were submitted to a policy of violent Fascist Italianization. Numerous locals joined the underground militant anti-fascist organization TIGR, which fought against the Italian Fascist regime, while many others emigrated to the neighboring Kingdom of Yugoslavia among them being the renowned literary scholar Anton Ocvirk.
Between 1943 and 1945, the area was occupied by Nazi German forces, and units of partisan resistance were active in the area. After the liberation by the Yugoslav People’s Army in May 1945, Bovec came under joined British-U.S. occupation. Between June 1945 and September 1947, Bovec and the whole right bank of the Soca river were included in the Zone A of the Julian March, which was under Allied military administration, with the demarcation line with the Yugoslav occupation zone running just a few kilometers east of the town.
In September 1947, the Paris Peace Treaties gave the town to Yugoslavia, namely to the Socialist Republic of Slovenia. In 1951, the town became a city. With the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, Bovec became part of the independent Slovenian state.
Bovec was heavily damaged by the 1976 Friuli earthquake. Another moderate quake with a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale shook the city in April 1998, and a weaker one occurred in July 2004, with a 4.9 magnitude.
Several natural sights are included in the Bovec municipality, such as the source of the River Soca, the 106 m high Boka waterfall, the ski resort Kanin, and the Trenta Valley, connected to Bovec with a tourist trail. The municipality has a well-developed tourist industry, centered in the city itself, with numerous hotels, and an airfield (LJBO).
In 2007, a part of the movie, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, was shot close to Bovec. The city has a population of 1,300, while the whole municipality has a bit more than 3,000 inhabitants.
The municipality of Bovec is governed by a mayor, elected every 4 years by popular vote, and a municipal council of 12 members. In national elections, Bovec has strongly favored conservative candidates, and it is considered one of the most loyal strongholds of the Slovenian Democratic Party in the whole country. In the local elections, however, the vote is usually more dispersed, although mayors of the Slovenian Democratic Party have governed the municipality since 1998.
Today, Bovec attracts especially with a wide array of sports activities, for adrenaline crazy and at the same also for those who just want to relax in nature. The town’s upbeat rhythm is maintained by numerous sports agencies, all kinds of events, and the hospitable locals. The valleys around Bovec are a playground for all kinds of sports all year round.
In winter time the main attraction is the Kanin – Canin ski center, but around Bovec, there are pistes for cross-country skiing, and different sports agencies can take tourists on snow-shoe trips and sledding. From springtime to autumn there are more biking, hiking, and mountaineering trails to be explored, horseback trips to be taken, golf games to be played and a wide array of different white-water sports on the Soca river to choose from. The small sports airfield just by Bovec is interesting for paragliders and gliders all year round.
Apart from this, Bovec also boasts of several traditional events and festivals like for instance the following:
Festival Kluze: Is a festival of performing arts. There are concerts, several dramas play for adults and children. It takes place in July and August in different places around Bovec, but especially in the Kluze Fortress.
Bovec Thursday Evenings and Folklore Evenings
Bovec Thursday Evenings and Folklore Evenings begin in July, after the International Folklore Meeting which takes place in late June. On The Thursday Evenings there is a different concert each time and on Folklore Evenings there are singing and dancing performances of the local folklore group.
Comparska Noc can be translated into “potato night.” This is a folklore and entertaining event. Here tourists can try the local dish ‘Compe a Skuta’, potatoes with cottage cheese. The event takes place in Bovec on a weekend nearest to the 15th of August.
Ekoloski Spust Po Soci
Ekoloski Spust Ppo Soci, the Eco descent down the Soca River, takes place every year after the main summer season on the Soca River has ended. Everyone can join and help clean the Soca river and its surroundings to preserve them for the future generations. It normally takes place on one of the weekends in the first part of October.
Bovec Outdoor Film Festival
Bovec Outdoor Film Festival is all about extreme sports and nature. Along with the Film Festival takes place also the ‘Festival of snow sculptures.’ The festivals usually take place in the last week of December.
Freeride battle normally takes place in early March on Mt. Kanin ski area, just by the ski slopes. It is a competition of freeride skiers and snowboarders.
Emaus takes place every Easter Monday on Mt. Kanin ski area. On this day gather old-time skiers from all around and try to compete with them and show their skills in skiing the old way. It is usually very interesting and entertaining.
The different ways by which one can get to Bovec are as follows:
Bovec – Ljubljana 135 km
Bovec – Bled 90 km
Bovec – Kranjska Gora 45 km
Bovec – Nova Gorica 75 km
Bovec – Udine 65 km
Tarvisio Boscoverde Railway Station, Italy 30 km
Most Na Soci Railway Station 42 km
Bus carrier Avrigo operates bus services between Ljubljana and Nova Gorica several times a day. In summer, buses also run to Kranjska Gora and Bled.
Bovec boasts one of the most beautiful sports airfields in an Alpine setting.
It is an increasingly popular spot for domestic and international tourist flights. Major international airports like Ljubljana, Klagenfurt, and Triest airports are only about 100 km from Bovec.
The rapids and emerald green waters of the Soca, a true Alpine beauty, offer great fun and joy to many zealous kayakers, canoeists, and rafters from around the globe.