|• Total||7.5 km2 (2.9 sq mi)|
|Elevation||331.9 m (1,088.9 ft)|
Cerkno (Italian: Circhina, German: Kirchheim) is a small town in the Littoral region of Slovenia. It has around 2,000 inhabitants and is the administrative centre of the Cerkno Hills. It is the seat of the Municipality of Cerkno.
Cerkno is a small but important local cultural center in the traditional Littoral region near Idrija. It is known for the Laufarija carnival, a spring festival with carved wooden masks; for the Franja Partisan Hospital (Partizanska bolnica Franja); a Partisan hospital from World War II; and as a ski resort.
Cerkno was attested in written records in 1257 as Curchinitz (and as Chyrchayn in 1299, Circhinç in 1337, and Circhiniz in 1486). The modern Slovene name is an ellipsis of *Cerьkъvьno (selo/polje); literally, 'church (village/field)'. The medieval attestations of the name indicate that the settlement was also once called Cerknica. The name indicates that the place was formerly a church property.
Historically, the Cerkno Hills belonged to Tolmin County. In the 16th century, the area came under Habsburg rule, and was included in the County of Gorizia and Gradisca. After the end of World War I, the area was occupied by the Italian Army, and then officially annexed to Italy in 1920. Between 1920 and 1943, it was part of the administrative region known as the Julian March. After the Italian armistice in September 1943, Cerkno was liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans and became one of the most important centres of Partisan resistance in the Slovenian Littoral.
Cerkno is the site of two known mass graves associated with the Second World War. The Lajše Mass Grave (Slovene: Grobišče Lajše) is located south of the town, in a shaft on the edge of the woods on the eastern slope of Lajše Hill. It contains the remains of 14 civilian victims (one escaped) that were suspected of anti-communist activity and were murdered on 6 February 1944. They were killed in revenge for at attack on a Communist Party training school in Cerkno on 27 January 1944 that left 47 dead. The Zakriž Mass Grave (Grobišče Zakriž) lies west of Cerkno, on the steep western slope of Big Kovk Hill (Veliki Kovk), below a series of cliffs below a forest path. It contains the remains of 22 or 23 civilians that were taken from the prison in Cerkno or held for forced labor, and who were murdered on 21 or 22 March 1945.
The parish church in the town is dedicated to Saint Anne and belongs to the Diocese of Koper. The church consist of a rectangular presbytery, a wide rectangular nave, and a belfry north of the front wall. The church dates from 1714 and is attributed to the architect Gregor Maček (1682–1745). A second church in the settlement is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew.
Notable people that were born or lived in Cerkno include:
- France Bevk (1890–1970), writer
- Frančišek Borgia Sedej (1854–1931), Archbishop of Gorizia
- Milica Kacin-Wohinz (1930–), historian
- Boris Mlakar (1947–), historian
- Janez Podobnik (1959–), politician
- Marjan Podobnik (1960–), politician
- Rafael Podobnik (1942–), photographer
- Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia
- Cerkno municipal site
- Laufarija Society site (Slovene)
- Cerkno Ski Resort site
- Snoj, Marko. 2009. Etimološki slovar slovenskih zemljepisnih imen. Ljubljana: Modrijan and Založba ZRC, p. 89.
- Lajše Mass Grave on Geopedia (Slovene)
- Zakriž Mass Grave on Geopedia (Slovene)
- Slovenian Ministry of Culture register of national heritage reference number ešd 3598
- Koper Diocese list of churches
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