Šmarna gora mountain is a
Šmarna gora mountain is a "mountain" only by its name and inclination, not because of its height, it has been a crossroads for hikers of all profiles for decades Foto: Klara Širovnik

Because Šmarna gora mountain is a "mountain" only by its name and inclination, not because of its height, it has been a crossroads for hikers of all profiles for decades – from those who go hiking only on Sundays, to professional athletes. There is only a handful of people who live in Ljubljana and have not yet visited this popular tourist attraction, and in recent years, the solitary mountain has attracted more and more tourists.
"The Šmarna gora season depends mostly on the weather. Even when the summer was almost over, there were plenty of visitors – it seems as if at that time, the most popular paths were almost crowded – and if it rains, there is no one in sight," said Ana Češnovar, the current manager of the Ledinek na vrhu restaurant when we visited the mountain. "There is definitely an increase in tourism. However, we cannot compare the number of tourists, who visit the Ljubljana center with the number of those who visit Šmarna gora," she adds and explains that there are many elderly people who visit Ljubljana, but they rather avoid hiking the hill.
"Our visitors are mostly families, young people, and middle age couples. We are happy to see that those, who hike regularly, bring an acquaintance who is not Slovenian with them," says Češnovar. And she is right – when we walk to the top, we meet an older citizen Marjan from Medvode, who is hiking with his friend Marco from Italy. "When my former colleague visits Ljubljana, we always go to Šmarna gora," says Marjan, adding that some tourists often ask, whether they can go to the top by car, which is pointless. "There is no greater satisfaction than to eat "žganci" and drink beer after a hard but pleasant hike," he says.
In the recent years, the demand of foreign tourist agencies about the offer on Šmarna gora has been rising rapidly. "When we tell them that they cannot get to the top by bus, they often thank us and say goodbye," says Češnovar and emphasizes that we should not underestimate the mountain conditions. "Several days long tourist visits to Šmarna gora can be wonderful, but in case of a bad weather, you should have a plan B," she says.
Many paths, many adventures
There are many paths leading to Šmarna gora and there are at least as many stories those paths bring with them. Their names tell us a lot about their history – Pilgrim route, Partisan, and Path of Freedom – other bear more mysterious names of individuals, whose merits are mostly unknown to mountaineers. Two are the most popular: the first one, Pilgrim route, from Tacen and the other one from Zavrh.
At the top, there are not only žganci and Carniolan sausages waiting for the visitors, but also the church, which was built by the most respected Slovenian architect Gregor Maček in 1711, and the bell tower, which is actually a rebuilt defense tower. There were four bells, that were brought to the top by the believers, however, only the Marija bell and the smallest Mihael bell remained there. The transportation was definitely not easy. There was a lot of mud and we cannot forget about the slope. The bell, which was hanged in 1874 and weighs three tones, was the largest bell in Carniola. Two hundred people and eleven pairs of oxen carried the bell for about two hours from Zavrh to the church. But during the war, the bells were melted and turned into weapons.