1. Gorje, Church and house names
By using the general name Gorje, we usually have in mind a cluster of all the settlements in the Gorje Corner. However, formally, there are only two settlements – the settlement of Zgornje Gorje and the settlement of Spodnje Gorje. Like all settlements in Slovenia, Gorje is also recognisable by its churches, which are usually located in the core of the settlements. The first church in Gorje was probably built already around 1050, when the place first appeared in a document under the common name “Summitas campi” or “Obinentiges felde” (the upper field). It is mentioned as an “ecclesiola” (a small church) around 1173, when it is found, together with its filial church in Lesce, in the possession of the Brixen ministerialis Nantwin and, depending on the circumstances, already with its own priest. Therefore, that year is considered to be the time of the formation of the parish.
The church, dedicated to St. George, keeps in its walls the remains of its Gothic predecessor from the 15th century. Behind the main altar of the parish church is a large Gothic window surrounded by frescoes of the apostles Peter, Paul, John and Andrew from around 1460 (Master Bolfgang’s workshop). There are the remains of a Gothic door and fragments of a Gothic fresco of unknown content to the left of the presbytery. The present church was rebuilt in 1687 and renovated in the 19th century, when a strict but extremely impressive classicistic façade was built on the west side. In 1895, the interior was painted by the painter Matija Koželj of Kamnik. At the end of the 1980s, the presbytery was rearranged according to new liturgical rules with a pulpit and a shrine, using the pillars of the former communion table. When, at the same time, the pavement was changed, an underground space opened in the middle of the church, showing a tomb with well-preserved remains of coffins. Perhaps one of the deceased is the pastor Karl Jožef Marburger, as his burial in the church in 1754 is reported by historical sources.
The mighty Samass’ bell from 1845, which is in the background of the unofficial local anthem “V Gorjah zvoni, da se turn maje…” (“The bell is ringing so loudly in Gorje that the bell tower is shaking …”), echoes in the bell tower. In 1848, the roof of the bell tower burned down and the bells fell from the yokes, but fortunately they did not break. A year later, the bell tower was raised by one floor and the present, characteristic roof was made. From the time of one of the previous restorations, a Latin chronogram has been preserved on the north wall. The year 1762 is evident from the capital letters of the chronogram.
The locals still predict the weather today according to the angel at the top of the bell tower, which turns in the direction of the wind.
At the former village cemetery, which after the Second World War became the cemetery of the fallen in World War II, we can also admire the remarkable monument carved from stone, which is considered to be Plečnik’s work. His student Vladimira Bratuž Furlan also participated in the design of the Plečnik monument.
People in the villages didn’t use to use surnames, but were named after local house names. Surnames began to appear only 500 to 700 years ago, depending on the cultural environment in which people lived. In some places, however very rarely, the surname is the same as the house name, i.e. the family name. House names originate from characteristic features of the people who live in the house, and are associated primarily with the former owner (example: Hribar – a man who lives under or on a hill, Rodar – after the activity he performs (kolar – wheelwright)). The house name is associated with a specific family or location where the family lives. Surnames can change over the centuries, depending on the offspring, but house names usually remain the same over the centuries.
Some years ago, the “House Names” project was implemented as a project of the Ragor development agency. It preserves the rich intangible cultural heritage. As a rule, people in the countryside are proud of their house names and keep them. It is interesting that children in the village often call each other with their house names.
the clay tile and the text “Kamnek’s house”, a very typical and reasonable name of a house built on a rock. The Latin saying “nomen ist omen” usually also reflects some of the character traits of the people who possess it.
2. The beginnings of advanced cultural and educational life in Gorje
At the end of the 19th century, a reading society was formed in Gorje, thanks to some forward-thinking people. One of the initiators of the establishment of the reading society was Matej Tonejc together with his teacher Janko Žirovnik, who worked in Gorje and was a passionate collector of ethnographic material and one of the key people responsible for the construction of the first cultural centre.
The first writer from Gorje Matej Tonejc – Samostal (1846–1882) was born in the neighbouring Zidank’s house. After a classical high school education, he first entered the study of theology and later trained as a teacher. Because of his wish to study at university, he found a job at a bourgeois school for girls in Vienna. He returned home due to poor health and died at a very young age. He was a conscious Slovenian, he recognized Slovene as his language of communication, which is why he was reprimanded by the school authorities in the strict Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Anton Kocjančič (1884–1962), a folk writer, who published under various pseudonyms, was born and lived in the house at Maček, next to which there is a memorial plaque. He was talented, fortunately his talent was recognized by the people who supported and helped him publish his literary works. In his records, he mainly summarizes the lives of peasant, rural people of the time, trying to rely on the historical circumstances that shaped rural life, customs, tasks and the struggle for survival. He was also the founder and for some time the conductor of the Gorje band, which still preserves and upgrades more than a century-old tradition in the place.
3. St. George’s sign:
The chapel at this place was built after it collapsed on the opposite side of the road next to the former Sexton’s house – Mežnar’s house. The main figure in the chapel is a statue of St. George. As a Christian saint, according to legend, he saved the king’s daughter from the dragon, with the promise that he would kill the dragon if the people present could be baptised. St. George was a real person who, as a soldier, even became a tribune under the emperor Diocletian. However, because he declared himself a Christian, he was tortured and later beheaded. In the Christian world, St. George means the victory of good over evil, the victory of light over darkness, even more, the victory of Christianity over paganism represented by the dragon.
St. George is a frequent saint in Slovenia, he is also the parish patron in Gorje. Due to his character, which is closely related to the horse, he has been especially popular with the people of Gorje, who often made a living from horse-drawn carriage driving in the past. The statue in the chapel once stood in the parish church. After the renovation, the then pastor kept it in the woodshed for some time, which the people of Gorje resented. The boys even composed an entertaining song and used it to force the parish priest of Gorje to put St. George in the place he deserved.
The image of St. George in Christianity has its roots in pre-Christianity. A similar figure appears in ancient Egypt in the form of the god Horus (the figure of a soldier with a falcon’s head depicted on a horse piercing a crocodile with a spear). The Greek Bellerophon on Pegasus piercing the Chimera with a spear is also very close to the figure of St. George.
4. Currants in Gorje
Soon after the Second World War, the people of Gorje began to plant especially black currants en masse. Due to its beautiful sunny location, fruit has always flourished in Gorje. The fruit culture was additionally instilled by two teachers in Gorje, Janko and Jože Žerovnik brothers. People soon realized that fruit production was a useful contribution to self-sufficiency and also a way to possible earnings. Therefore, they also planted currants, which was first promoted by Ivan Šanca with the first plantation in Srednja Radovna, and then he continued in Gorje due to its favourable location.
The first crops of currant plantations brought the people of Gorje a good income, so they tackled it even more en masse. Especially in the 1970s, the income from the sale of black currants was a significant additional source of income for the farmers in the area. After this period, however, due to decreasing demand and thus falling prices, plantations slowly disappeared. Few individuals have preserved the tradition and further upgraded it with other alternative types of berries as well as vegetables.
The production of healthy food is becoming increasingly important, and it is right that we recognize it as such and support local producers.
The ridge of the hill on which you are located is actually a glacial moraine. When the glaciers retreated after the last ice age, the Bohinj glacier pushed the debris in front of it, which formed as a glacial moraine. In this part, the Bohinj glacier closed the way along which the so-called Triglav glacier, sliding along today’s Radovna valley, was retreating. It closed the path, so the Radovna river cut an alternative, new path. Over a long period of time, the moraine was transformed into a hill above the villages of Gorje. Due to the beautiful viewpoint of the meadows and fields at the foot, people have always loved to visit it, which is also visible by the chapel built on the top, which was not long ago visited every year on the Feast of Corpus Christi by a procession of believers. The saint who lives in the chapel, St. Anthony, was recommended for the health of livestock, otherwise he is the patron saint of fishermen, travellers, pregnant women and sick children, and an intercessor in the search for lost objects and for happiness in marriage.
The saint is recognized as an outstanding preacher and connoisseur of the Bible from the early 13th century. He mostly worked in the territory of today’s Italy, France and Morocco.
It was because of his knowledge that he educated his younger confrères and also gained the reputation of a church teacher, which was also confirmed after his death by Pope Pius XII.