The Vršič Pass
|Elevation||1,611 m (5,285 ft)|
|Traversed by||Ruska cesta|
|Location||Upper Carniola, Slovenia|
The Vršič Pass (pronounced [vərˈʃitʃ]; Slovene: Prelaz Vršič, Italian: Passo della Moistrocca, German: Werschetzpass) (el. 1611 m) is a high mountain pass across the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia.
The road across the pass was built for military purposes, to supply the Isonzo front of World War I. Opened in late 1915, it was originally named after Archduke Eugen of Austria-Hungary. It is currently known as Ruska cesta ("Russian Road"), renamed in July 2006 to honor the Russian prisoners of war that were forced to build it. The upper elevations of the road are rendered impassable by heavy snowfall during much of winter.
The Slovene common noun vršič literally means 'little peak', a diminutive form of the word vrh 'peak'. The name originally referred to Mount Vršič (1738 m), located about 200 m east of the Vršič Pass. The name Vršic was not applied to the pass until 1911. The name of the peak was first attested in written sources as Werschez in 1763–87. Locally, the pass is known as Na močilu (first attested in 1763–87 as Muschizach or Mushizhach). The Italian name of the pass was Moistrocca.
The Vršič Pass is the highest pass in Slovenia, as well as the highest in the Eastern Julian Alps. It connects Upper Carniola with the Trenta Valley in the Slovenian Littoral, rising from Kranjska Gora in a series of 50 hairpin bends and traversing the high mountains near the Slovenian-Italian-Austrian border before descending into the Soča (Isonzo) Valley.
It is considered an excellent starting point for excursions to surrounding peaks, including Mala Mojstrovka (2332 m), Velika Mojstrovka (2366 m), Planja (2453 m), Prisojnik (Prisank) (2547 m), Razor (2601 m), Šitna Glava (2087 m), Slemenova Špica (1911 m), Sovna Glava (1750 m), and Suhi Vrh (2109 m), or shorter hikes in the immediate area.
Several mountain lodges are located near the pass: the Erjavec Lodge (Erjavčeva koča; 1515 m), the Birders' Lodge (Tičarjev dom; 1620 m), Mike's Lodge (Mihov dom), the Forest Lodge (Koča na Gozdu; 1226 m), and the Postman's Lodge (Poštarska koča; 1725 m).
A road was built in 1915 during the First World War to supply the front line. After the war, from 1918 to the Second World War, the pass was on the border between Italy and Yugoslavia. Since 1945, together with the upper Isonzo valley north of Gorizia, it was incorporated in Yugoslavia, and then in Slovenia.
Just off the main road, on the north side of the pass, at an elevation of around 1,200 m, there is the Russian Orthodox chapel, built by the Russian POWs to commemorate their comrades dead during the road construction.
On the south side of the pass there is a monument in honor of Julius Kugy.
The Vršič Pass road; the switchbacks are paved with setts.