The year 2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War.
From 1915 to 1917 the area of the Upper Soča region was part of the Soška fronta – Isonzo Front, a series of 12 bloody battles between the Austro-Hungarian and Italian armies. Soldiers of numerous nations were fighting, suffering and dying here. Numerous remains of this era have been preserved, such as trenches, fortifications, caves, memorials, military cemeteries, chapels, etc. They represent important cultural and historical heritage of the Upper Soča region.
THE KOBARID HISTORICAL TRAIL links all these beautiful places around Kobarid, where important historical, cultural and natural monuments can be seen. The trail is 5 km long, and the tour takes three to five hours.
KOBARID, one of the most renowned historical places in Slovenia, was already inhabited in the Hallstat period and prospered in the Roman period. The town is mainly known for the aftermath of the Battle of Kobarid in October 1917, which placed Kobarid on the world map. The nearby Soča offers excellent possibilities for kayaking, rafting, fishing and other water sports. The surrounding mountains offer superb conditions for hiking, gliding, mountain biking and mountaineering.
Kobarid is also the culinary capital of the Primorska Region, since it boasts many excellent restaurants.The Kobarid Museum presents the First World War on the Isonzo Front, focusing on the Battle of Kobarid. The battle turned into one of the most violent encounters in the history of this mountainous region and, besides the Eleventh Isonzo Battle, it was the most ferocious armed engagement Slovenia had ever experienced. It was also the most successful breakthrough operation in the First World War and one of the first cases of a battle incorporatingBlitzkrieg strategic elements. In 1993 the museum received the Council of Europe Museum Prize.
ITALIAN CHARNEL HOUSE
The Charnel House was built on Gradič hill around the already existing Church of St. Anthony which had been consecrated as far back as 1696. Along the road, leading to the Charnel House, Stations of the Cross were also erected.
In September 1938, the Charnel House was opened by Benito Mussolini. It is constructed in the form of three concentric octagonal fields, diminishing in the upward direction, with the Church of St. Anthony on the very top. Mortal remains of 7,014 known and unknown Italian soldiers who had been killed in the First World War were transfered to the Charnel House from the nearby military cemeteries.
Tonocov Grad Hill is a rocky elevation near Kobarid. Due to its naturally secure position, there was a settlement on its top for many centuries. It was settled from the Copper Age until the Middle Ages. The settlement’s heyday was in the late Roman, or late Antiquity, period, between the 4th and the 6th centuries AD. Towards the end of the 5th century, a settlement with over twenty houses and several churches stood on the hill. The remains of the buildings are in excellent state of perservation. These remains and rich archaeological finds rank Tonocov Grad among the most important late Antiquity mountain settlements in the eastern Alps.
ITALIAN LINE OF DEFENCE
From Tonocov Grad a path which had been used already by the ancient natives and was partly completed by the Italian soldiers during the First World War leads to the river Soča. During the First World War, the Italian Army built three lines of defence in the Soča Region. A part of the third line of defence ran along the right and the left bank of the Soča. The historical trail leads us through trenches, forts and buildings intended for the defence of the passage across the Soča and of the roads on the right bank of the river.
From Trnovo ob Soči to Kobarid the Soča runs through a deep gorge with several pools, rapids and huge rocks in the river bed. Before the Napoleon Bridge, the upper Soča stream ends in a gorge (Korita) approximately 200 meters long, up to 15 meters deep and in some places only 2 meters wide. The two banks of the Soča are connected by a new, 52 meters long footbridge, constructed on the very spot where a wooden footbridge had been during the First World War. The new footbridge was constructed in 1998 by the Kobarid Museum and the Kobarid Tourist Society.
The two banks of the Soča below Kobarid were already linked by a bridge in the remote past. The old bridge was constructed in 1750 and received its name when Napoleon’s troops marched across it. On 24 May 1915, a day after the First World War had been declared, the retreating Austrian soldiers blew up the bridge. Afterwards, the Italians initially built a wooden bridge and later replaced it with an iron one. In the Second World War, the Partisans fought in defence of the liberated territory of the Kobarid Republic also next to the bridge. To commemorate these events, two memorials were set close to the bridge.
The Kozjak brook, a left tributary of the Soča, runs through many pools and makes six waterfalls, of which the last two are only accessible to visitors. At the mouth of the lower pools of the Kozjak (Korita) the most picturesque Slovenian waterfall originates – the Veliki Kozjak (the Grand Kozjak). About 250 metres downstream the water falls once again. The typical surroundings of the Veliki Kozjak create a special atmosphere. The waterfall hollowed a kind of an underground hall, at the bottom of which is a vast blue-green pool, while its walls are reminiscent of those in karst caves. The 15 meters high white water column, contrasting with the darkness of the “cave”, offers magnificent scenery to its visitors. The Kozjak waterfall is accessible from the way leading from Kobarid to Drežnica village.
Kobarid Museum offers guided visits to the battlefields