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Vrhnika is located in Slovenia
Location in Slovenia
Coordinates: 45°57′44.55″N 14°17′37.45″E / 45.9623750°N 14.2937361°E / 45.9623750; 14.2937361Coordinates: 45°57′44.55″N 14°17′37.45″E / 45.9623750°N 14.2937361°E / 45.9623750; 14.2937361
Country Flag of Slovenia.svg Slovenia
Traditional region Inner Carniola
Statistical region Central Slovenia
Municipality Vrhnika
 • Total 18.9 km2 (7.3 sq mi)
Elevation 293.1 m (961.6 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 8,454

Vrhnika (pronounced [ˈvəɾxnika]; German: Oberlaibach[2]) is a town in Slovenia. It is the seat of the Municipality of Vrhnika. It is located on the Ljubljanica River, 21 km from Ljubljana along the A1 motorway.


The settlement at the location of today's Vrhnika was attested in antiquity as Nauportus in Latin, and as Ναύποντος and Νάμπορτος in Greek. Medieval attestations of the name include de superiory Laybaco in 1300, Oberlaybach in 1308 (and Ober Laybach in 1309), and Vernich in 1481, corresponding to the modern Slovene name. In the past, the town was known as Oberlaibach in standard German. The Slovene name is probably a compound of vrh 'top, summit' + nika or nikve 'creek, spring', referring to the source of the Ljubljanica River. The Latin name Nauportus is a compound of navis 'boat' + portus 'transfer', referring to a place where cargo had to be transferred from boats to pack animals or carts along a trade route. A mythological reinterpretation of the Latin name as referring to the portage of a boat itself (specifically, the Argo) appears in Pliny the Elder's Natural History.[3]


In Roman times, Nauportus was an important communication point.[4] Vrhnika as it exists today started to develop in the High Middle Ages.

Vrhnika became a market town and was among the wealthiest towns in Carniola[5] up to the early 18th century, when it started to lose importance. Nevertheless, it remained one of main transportation junctions in Inner Austria because of its strategic location on the crossroads between the trade routes from Trieste to Vienna and from Rijeka to Klagenfurt.[6] The development of the town was strongly impaired by the construction of the Austrian Southern Railway in the 1840s, which bypassed it. From then on, it started losing importance, becoming a satellite town of Ljubljana, which has remained up to this day.

Mass grave[edit]

Vrhnika is the site of a mass grave from the period immediately after the Second World War. The Pikec Valley Mass Grave (Slovene: Grobišče pri Pikčevi dolini) is located at the bottom of a sinkhole southwest of the town, on Sveč Hill near the Vojc house. It contains the remains of six German prisoners of war that were murdered in May 1945.[7]

Notable people[edit]

Notable people that were born or lived in Vrhnika include:

  • Ivan Cankar (1876–1918), writer. The house where he was born is now a museum.


  1. ^ Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia
  2. ^ Leksikon občin kraljestev in dežel zastopanih v državnem zboru, vol. 6: Kranjsko. 1906. Vienna: C. Kr. Dvorna in Državna Tiskarna, p. 120.
  3. ^ Snoj, Marko. 2009. Etimološki slovar slovenskih zemljepisnih imen. Ljubljana: Modrijan and Založba ZRC, pp. 468–469.
  4. ^ Curk I. et al. (1993). In the footsteps of Roman soldiers in Slovenia. Ljubljana: Zavod Republike Slovenije za varstvo naravne in kulturne dediščine Slovenije. COBISS 35642624
  5. ^ Johann Weikhard von Valvasor: The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, published 1689, translated extracts published 1984 by Mladinska knjiga, pp. 240, 241.
  6. ^ Orožen Adamič M., Perko D., Kladnik D. (1995). Krajevni leksikon Slovenije. Ljubljana: DZS. ISBN 86-341-1141-5 COBISS 36607233 (Slovene)
  7. ^ Pikec Valley Mass Grave on Geopedia (Slovene)

External links[edit]