Slovenian Way of Life

Slovenes are a sophisticated and well-educated people. They have a reputation for being sober-minded, hard-working, dependable and honest – perhaps a result of all those years under the yoke of the Austrian Habsburgs. But they very much retain their Slavic character, even if their spontaneity is sometimes a little more premeditated and their expressions of passion a little more muted than that of their Balkan neighbours. Think quietly conservative, self-confident, broad-minded and tolerant.

Lifestyle

Slovenia's population is divided exactly in half between those who live in towns and cities and those who live in the country. But in Slovenia, where most urban dwellers still have some connection with the countryside – be it a village house or a zidanica, a cottage in one of the wine-growing regions – the division is not all that great. And with the arrival of large malls on the outskirts of the biggest cities and a Mercator supermarket in virtually every village, the city has now come to the country.

Most Slovenes believe that the essence of their national character lies in nature’s bounty. For them a life that is not in some way connected to the countryside is inconceivable. At weekends many seek the great outdoors for some walking in the hills or cross-country skiing. Or at least a spot of gardening, which is a favourite pastime.

It's not hard to reach deep countryside here. Forest, some of it virgin, and woodland covers more than 58% of the land area, the third-most forested country in the EU after Finland and Sweden. And the figure jumps to 66% if you include land reverting to natural vegetation and agricultural plots that have not been used for more than two decades. Land under agricultural use is rapidly diminishing and now accounts for less than a quarter of the total.

With farmstays a popular form of accommodation in Slovenia, it’s relatively easy to take a peek inside a local home. What you’ll find generally won’t differ too much from what you’d see elsewhere in Central and Western Europe, though you may be surprised at the dearth of children. Slovenes don’t have many kids – the nation has one of Europe’s lowest rates of natural population increase and women usually give birth on the late side (the average age is almost 29). Most families tend to have just one child and if they have a second one it’s usually almost a decade later. And the names of those kids? Luka and Filip for boys and Eva and Ema for girls.

Population & Multiculturalism

According to national field-census figures, just over 83% of Slovenia's two million people claims to be ethnic Slovene, descendants of the South Slavs who settled in what is now Slovenia from the 6th century AD.

‘Others’ and ‘undeclared', accounting for almost 17% of the population in national field-census figures, include ethnic Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, those who identify themselves simply as ‘Muslims’ and many citizens of former Yugoslav republics who ‘lost’ their nationality after independence for fear that Slovenia would not grant them citizenship.

The Italians (0.1% of the population) and Hungarians (0.3%) are considered indigenous minorities with rights protected under the constitution, and each group has a special deputy looking after their interests in parliament. Census figures put the number of Roma, mostly living in Prekmurje and Dolenjska, at about 3300, although unofficial estimates are double or even triple that number.

Ethnic Slovenes living outside the national borders number as many as 400,000, with the majority in the USA and Canada. In addition, 50,000 Slovenes live in the Italian regions of Gorizia (Gorica), Udine (Videm) and Trieste (Trst), another 15,000 or more in Austrian Carinthia (Kärnten in German, Koroška in Slovene) and about 5000 in southwest Hungary.

Slovenes are gifted polyglots, and almost everyone speaks some English, German and/or Italian. The fact that you will rarely have difficulty making yourself understood and will probably never ‘need’ Slovene shouldn’t stop you from learning a few phrases of this rich and wonderful language, which counts as many as three dozen dialects and boasts not just singular and plural but the ‘dual’ number in which things are counted in twos (or pairs) in all cases. Any effort on your part to speak the local tongue will be rewarded 100-fold. Srečno (Good luck)!

Sport

Smučanje (skiing) remains the king of sports. The national heroes have been Primož Peterka, ski-jumping World Cup winner in the late 1990s, and extreme skier Davo Karničar, who has skied down the highest mountains in each of the seven continents, including the first uninterrupted descent of Mt Everest on skis in 2000.

More recent people to follow have been skier Tina Maze, the most successful female racer in Slovenian history. She won no fewer than two golds at the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia, following two silvers at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Peter Prevc, another household name, won a silver and a bronze at Sochi, which were the most successful Olympic games in Slovenian history.

Female skier Petra Majdič, in 2006, became the first Slovenian skier to win a medal in a World Cup cross-country race and went on to collect two dozen more.

Until not so long ago Slovenia was one of the few countries in Europe where football (soccer) was not a national passion. But interest in the sport increased after the national team’s plucky performance in the 2000 European Championship and in two of three matches at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, its second appearance at a FIFA World Cup since independence. Slovenia, however, failed to qualify for both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup games.

There are 10 teams in the First Division (Prva Liga), with Maribor, Olimpija Ljubljana and Domžale consistently at the top of the league.

In general kosarka (basketball) is the most popular team sport here, and the Union Olimpija team reigns supreme. Other popular spectator sports are odbojka (volleyball) and hokej na ledu (ice hockey), especially since Anže Kopitar, perhaps the best-known Slovenian athlete in the world, helped the Los Angeles Kings of the US National Hockey League win two Stanley Cups, in 2012 and 2014.

Slovenia at the Olympics

Slovenia occasionally punches above its weight when it comes to winning Olympic medals at the winter and even the summer games.

The 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia, ended up being the most successful Olympic games in the country’s history. In addition to Tina Maze’s two golds, Slovenia bagged a total of eight medals and placed a remarkable 16th in the national medal standings. By contrast, the 2018 Winter Games at Pyeongchang, South Korea, were a relative disappointment. The country won just two medals, and slipped to 24th overall in the medal tables. The only bright spot was the national hockey team, which qualified for the playoff round, but did not win a medal.

In summer Olympic sports, Slovenia tends to excel at the smaller events. At the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Slovenian master Tina Trstenjak won gold in judo, repeating a team judo triumph at the London Olympics in 2012. Slovenia also tends to do well in rowing events.

Religion

Although Protestantism gained a strong foothold in Slovenia in the 16th century, the majority of Slovenes – just under 58% – identified themselves as Roman Catholic in the most recent demographic survey. The archbishop of Ljubljana and primate of Slovenia is Stane Zore.

Other religious communities in Slovenia include Muslims (2.4%), Orthodox Christians (2.3%) and Protestants (less than 1%). Most Protestants belong to the Evangelical (Lutheran) church based in Murska Sobota in Eastern Slovenia.

Jews have played a minor role in Slovenia since they were first banished from the territory in the 15th century. In 2003 the tiny Jewish community of Slovenia received a Torah at a newly equipped synagogue in Ljubljana – basically a room in an office block – the first since before WWII. The chief rabbi of Slovenia is based in Trieste.

Women In Slovenia

Women have equal status with men under Slovenian law but, despite all the work done to eliminate discrimination, bias remains. The share of women in government has improved in recent years: at present more than a third of all MPs are women but only a handful of government departments have a female at the helm. In business, well under half of directorial posts are filled by women.

Feature: Slovenia's 'First Lady'

With all the notable Slovenes over the years, it’s perhaps ironic that arguably the best-known Slovene in the world right now is US First Lady Melania Trump. Born as Melanija Knavs on 26 April 1970 in the city of Novo Mesto in southeastern Slovenia, she spent some of her teenage years in the town of Sevnica, about 50km to the north, before attending university in Ljubljana and later pursuing a modelling career overseas.

The Slovenian Tourist Board has detected what it calls the ‘Melania effect': her public profile has helped raise awareness of Slovenia in the USA, and has even prompted more than a few Americans to visit her homeland. However, travellers will find few overt references to the First Lady in Slovenia, even in places like Novo Mesto and Sevnica.

Sidebar: Slovenian Culture

An excellent guide to the culture and customs of Slovenia is Culture Smart! Slovenia by Canadian and long-term Ljubljana resident, Jason Blake.

Sidebar: Slovenes Outside Slovenia

Cleveland, Ohio, in the USA, is the largest ‘Slovenian’ city outside Slovenia; other American cities with large concentrations of ethnic Slovenes are Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois.

Sidebar: Slovenian Basketball

For the latest on Union Olimpija and Slovenian basketball see the Eurobasket (www.eurobasket.com/Slovenia/basketball.asp) website.

Sidebar: Sporty Slovenes

Every third Slovene regularly takes part in some sort of active leisure pursuit; 3500 sport societies and clubs count a total membership of 400,000 – 20% of the population – across the nation.

Arts

Slovenia is a highly cultured and educated society with a literacy rate of virtually 100% among those older than 15 years of age. Indeed, being able to read and write is so ingrained in the culture that the question ‘What is your surname?’ in Slovene is ‘Kako se pišete?’ or ‘How do you write yourself?’ Though few will be able to enjoy Slovenian literature in the original, music, fine art and film are all widespread and accessible.

Literature

The oldest example of written Slovene can be found in the so-called Freising Manuscripts (Brižinski Spomeniki) from around AD 970. They contain a sermon on sin and penance and instructions for general confession. Oral poetry, such as the seminal Lepa Vida (Fair Vida), a tale of longing and nostalgia, flourished throughout the Middle Ages, but it was the Reformation that saw the first book in Slovene, a catechism published by Primož Trubar in 1550. A complete translation of the Bible by Jurij Dalmatin followed in 1584. Almost everything else published until the late 18th century was in Latin or German, including an ambitious account of Slovenia, The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (1689), by Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641–93), from which comes most of our knowledge of Slovenian history, geography, culture and folklore before the 17th century.

The Enlightenment gave Slovenia its first dramatist (Anton Tomaž Linhart), poet (Valentin Vodnik) and modern grammarian (Jernej Kopitar). But it was during the so-called National Romantic Period that Slovenian literature gained its greatest poet of all time: France Prešeren. In the latter half of the 19th century, Fran Levstik (1831–87) brought the writing and interpretation of oral folk tales to new heights with his legends about the larger-than-life hero Martin Krpan, but it was Josip Jurčič (1844–81) who published the first novel in Slovene, Deseti Brat (The 10th Brother) in 1866.

Contemporary Literature

The first half of the 20th century was dominated by two men who single-handedly introduced modernism into Slovenian literature: the poet Oton Župančič (1878–1949) and the novelist and playwright Ivan Cankar (1876–1918). The latter has been called ‘the outstanding master of Slovenian prose’ and works like his Hlapec Jernej in Njegova Pravica (The Bailiff Yerney and His Rights; 1907), influenced a generation of young writers.

Slovenian literature immediately before and after WWII was influenced by socialist realism and the Partisan struggle, as exemplified by the novels of Lovro Kuhar-Prežihov Voranc (1893–1950). Since then, however, Slovenia has tended to follow Western European trends: late expressionism, symbolism (poetry by Edvard Kocbek; 1904–81) and existentialism (novels by Vitomil Zupan; 1914–87, and the drama of Gregor Strniša; 1930–87).

The major figures of Slovenian postmodernism since 1980 have been the novelist Drago Jančar (1948–) and the poet Tomaž Šalamun (1941–2014), who has a street in Ptuj named after him. Important writers born around 1960 include the late poet Aleš Debeljak (1961–2016) and the writer Miha Mazzini (1961–), whose Crumbs (1987) was the best-ever selling novel in Yugoslavia; Mazzini now has several books published in English. The work of centenarian Boris Pahor (1913–), a member of the Slovenian minority in Trieste, including Nekropola (Pilgrim among the Shadows), focuses on the time he spent in a concentration camp at the end of WWII.

Young talent to watch out for today includes authors dealing with sensitive issues such as racism and relations with the former Yugloslav republics. The first novel by Andrej E Skubic (1967–), Fužinski Bluz (Fužine Blues; 2004), takes place on the day of the first football match between independent Slovenia and Yugoslavia. Goran Vojnovič (1980–) wrote a satire called Čefurji Raus! (2009), which is translated as Southern Scum Out! and refers to those from the other former Yugoslav republics living in Slovenia. Vojnovič followed this up in 2015 with the acclaimed Yugoslavia, My Fatherland.

One of the finest poets to emerge on the Slovenian literary scene in recent years is Katja Perat (1988–), whose Najboljši So Padli (The Best Have Fallen; 2011) won a best debut award.

Music

As elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, music – especially the classical variety – is important in Slovenia.

Romantic composers from the 19th century, such as Benjamin Ipavec, Fran Gerbič and Anton Foerster, incorporated traditional Slovenian elements into their music as a way of expressing their nationalism. But Slovenia’s most celebrated composer from that time was Hugo Wolf (1860–1903), born in Slovenj Gradec and best known for his lieder (highly expressive art songs). Contemporary classical composers whose reputations go well beyond the borders of Slovenia include Primož Ramovš, Marjan Kozina, Lojze Lebič and the ultra modernist Vinko Globokar, who was born in France. Aldo Kumar has received awards for his theatre and film compositions; Milko Lazar is one of the more interesting composer-musicians to emerge in recent years. Opera buffs won’t want to miss out on the chance to hear Marjana Lipovšek and Argentina-born Bernarda Fink, the country’s foremost mezzo-sopranos.

Popular music runs the gamut from Slovenian chanson as sung by the likes of Vita Mavrič and folk to jazz and mainstream polka, best exemplified by the Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, whose founder Slavko died in 2015. However, it was punk music in the late 1970s and early 1980s that put Slovenia on the world stage. The most celebrated groups were Pankrti, Borghesia and especially Laibach, and they were imitated throughout Eastern Europe. The most popular alternative rock band in Slovenia today remains Siddharta, still going strong after two decades.

Folk Music

Ljudska glasba (folk music) has developed independently from other forms of Slovenian music over the centuries. Traditional folk instruments include the frajtonarica (button accordion), cimbalom (a stringed instrument played with sticks), bisernica (lute), zvegla (wooden cross flute), okarina (clay flute), šurle (Istrian double flute), trstenke (reed pipes), Jew’s harp, lončeni bajs (earthenware bass), berdo (contrabass) and brač (eight-string guitar).

Folk-music performances are usually local affairs and are very popular in Dolenjska and Bela Krajina. There’s also been a modern folk-music revival in recent years. Listen for the groups Katice and Katalena, who play traditional Slovenian music with a modern twist. Nejc Pačnik is one of the greatest folk accordionists to emerge in the past decades.

Architecture

You'll encounter all styles of architecture – from Romanesque to postmodern – in Slovenia, but it is fair to say that for the most part you'll find baroque, with occasional bits of Gothic and flourishes of art nouveau thrown in to liven things up.

Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found in many parts of Slovenia and include the churches at Stična Abbey in Dolenjska and at Podsreda Castle in southeastern Slovenia.

Much of the Gothic architecture in Slovenia is of the late period; the earthquake of 1511 took care of many buildings erected before then (although both the Venetian Gothic Loggia and the Praetorian Palace in Koper date back a century earlier). Renaissance architecture is mostly limited to civil buildings (eg townhouses in Škofja Loka and Kranj, Brdo Castle near Kranj).

Italian-influenced baroque of the 17th and 18th centuries abounds in Slovenia, particularly in Ljubljana; very fine examples there include the Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity and the Cathedral of St Nicholas. Classicism prevailed in architecture here in the first half of the 19th century; the Kazina building in Ljubljana’s Kongresni trg and the Tempel pavilion in Rogaška Slatina are good examples.

The turn of the 20th century was when the Secessionist (or art nouveau) architects Maks Fabiani and Ivan Vurnik began changing the face of Ljubljana after the devastating earthquake of 1895. We can thank them for symmetrical Miklošičev Park, the Prešeren monument and the splendid Cooperative Bank on Miklošičeva cesta. The tourist information centre in Ljubljana distributes the excellent map-guide Fabiania's Ljubljana. But it's safe to say no architect had a greater impact on his city or nation than Jože Plečnik, a man whose work defies easy definition. You'll find most of his creations in Ljubljana, but be on the lookout for buildings like the Parish Church of the Ascension in far-flung Bogojina.

Appreciation is growing for the country's postwar and Yugoslav-era architecture, which you'll find in abundance in Ljubljana's Center neighbourhood. Edvard Ravnikar’s Trg Republike in Center has recently been improved with the removal of the car park from its forecourt. For a fascinating look at the ideas behind the planning of some of the capital's districts, get a copy of the free map-guide Modernist Neighbourhoods of Ljubljana.

Among the most interesting contemporary architects working today are the award-winning team of Rok Oman and Špela Videčnik, whose OFIS Architechts designed the Ljubljana City Museum (2004) and the Maribor football stadium (2009), and participated in building the landmark Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies (KSEVT) in Vitanje in 2012. In Ljubljana, Atelier Arhitekti designed the attractive (and useful) Butchers' Bridge (2010) and Fabiani Bridge (2012) over the Ljubljanica River while Vesna and Matej Vozlič have given new life to the riverfront Breg.

Painting & Sculpture

There are three dozen permanent art museums and galleries in Slovenia and hundreds more temporary exhibition spaces, which will give you a good idea of the role that the visual arts play in the lives of many Slovenes.

Examples of Romanesque fine art are rare in Slovenia, surviving only in illuminated manuscripts. Gothic painting and sculpture is another matter, however, with excellent works at Ptujska Gora (the carved altar in the Church of the Virgin Mary), Bohinj (frescoes in the Church of St John the Baptist) and Hrastovlje (Dance of Death wall painting at the Church of the Holy Trinity).

For baroque sculpture, look at Jožef Straub’s epic plague pillar in Maribor and the work of Francesco Robba in Ljubljana (eg the Carniolan Rivers fountain now in the National Gallery). Fortunat Bergant, who painted the Stations of the Cross in the church at Stična Abbey, was a master of baroque painting.

The most important painters of the 19th century include the impressionists Rihard Jakopič, whose Sunny Hillside (1903) recalls Van Gogh, and Ivan Grohar, whose pointillist The Sower (1926) is recalled on the €0.05 coin. In the 20th century, the expressionist school of Božidar Jakac and the brothers France and Tone Kralj put a uniquely Slovenian spin on what had previously been primarily a Germanic school. After the war, sculptors Alojzij Gangl, Franc Berneker, Jakob Savinšek and Lojze Dolinar dominated the art scene when art was being used as a great tool of communication and propaganda. The last two in particular would create ‘masterpieces’ of socialist realism under Tito without losing their credibility or (sometimes) their artistic sensibilities.

From the 1980s and onward postmodernist painting and sculpture has been dominated by the artists’ cooperative Irwin, part of the wider multimedia group Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Among notable names today are the artist Tadej Pogačar, sculptor Marjetica Potrč and video artists Marko Peljhan and Marina Gržinič.

Street Art & Squats

One of the most exciting emerging areas of visual arts is street art, which you'll find down alleyways and on building walls in cities around the country. In Ljubljana, two places to check out some of the best are the squats Metelkova Mesto and Tovarna Rog. The sheer visual anarchy, the colours and the designs represent a stark contrast to Jože Plečnik’s restrained minimalism, so present around the rest of the capital.

Cinema

Slovenia was never on the cutting edge of filmmaking like some of the former Yugoslav republics (such as Croatia) and produces just five to seven feature films a year. However, it's still managed to produce award-winning films, such as Jože Gale’s Kekec (1951), the story of a young heroic do-gooder in an idyllic Slovenian mountain village, and France Štiglic’s Dolina Miru (Valley of Peace; 1955), the philosophical tale of two orphans on the lam in war-torn Yugoslavia.

What is now touted as the ‘Spring of Slovenian Film’ in the late 1990s was heralded by two films: Ekspres, Ekspres (Gone with the Train; 1997) by Igor Šterk, an award-winning ‘railroad’ film and farce, and Autsajder (Outsider; 1997), by Andrej Košak, about the love between a Slovenian girl and a Bosnian boy who doesn’t fit in.

Subsequent successes included Kruh in Mleko (Bread and Milk; 2001), the tragic story of a dysfunctional small-town family by Jan Cvitkovič, and Damjan Kozole’s Rezerni Deli (Spare Parts; 2003) about the trafficking of illegal immigrants through Slovenia from Croatia to Italy by a couple of embittered misfits.

Lighter fare is Cvitkovič’s Odgrobadogroba (Grave Hopping; 2006), an Oscar-nominated tragicomedy about a professional funeral speaker, and Petelinji Zajtrk (Rooster’s Breakfast; 2007), a romance by Marko Naberšnik set in Gornja Radgona on the Austrian border in northeast Slovenia.

More recent productions are Izlet (A Trip; 2011), Nejc Gazvoda’s low-budget road movie about lost friendship and youth, and the award-winning Razredni Sovražnik (Class Enemy; 2013) by Rok Biček about high-school students rebelling against their teacher. Drevo (The Tree; 2014) is a slow-moving but touching drama about a girl who loses her father and then starts to hear his whispers through the rustling of branches on the family tree.

Feature: France Prešeren: A Poet for the Nation

Slovenia’s most beloved poet was born in Vrba near Bled in 1800. Most of his working life was spent as an articled clerk in the office of a Ljubljana lawyer. By the time he had opened his own practice in Kranj in 1846, he was already a sick and dispirited man. He died three years later.

Although Prešeren published only one volume of poetry (Poezije; 1848) in his lifetime, he left behind a legacy of work printed in literary magazines. His verse set new standards for Slovenian poetry at a time when German was the literary lingua franca, and his lyric poems, such as the masterpiece Sonetni Venec (A Garland of Sonnets; 1834), are among the most sensitive and original works in Slovenian. In later poems, such as his epic Krst pri Savici (Baptism by the Savica Waterfall; 1836), he expressed a national consciousness that he tried to instil in his compatriots.

Prešeren’s life was one of sorrow and disappointment. The sudden death of his close friend and mentor, the literary historian Matija Čop, in 1835 and an unrequited love affair with a young heiress called Julija Primic brought him close to suicide. But this was when he produced his best poems.

Prešeren was the first to demonstrate the full literary potential of the Slovenian language, and his body of verse – lyric poems, epics, satire, narrative verse – has inspired Slovenes at home and abroad for generations.

Feature: Favourite Films of Nejc Gazvoda

Sometimes it helps to consult an expert. Nejc Gazvoda (1985–) is a well-known Slovenian scriptwriter (he collaborated on Rok Biček’s Class Enemy) and director, who these days has been dabbling successfully in Slovenian TV. Some of his top Slovenian films of all time:

  • Trenutki Odločitve (Moments of Decision; 1955) by František Čap. Harrowing drama set in Slovenia during WWII.
  • Na Papirnatih Avionih (On Paper Wings; 1967) by Matjaž Klopčič. Sad, funny, quirky romance about love and marriage.
  • Odgrobadogroba (Grave Hopping; 2006) by Jan Cvitkovič: Story of a funeral reader, a dysfunctional family and some hard lessons learned.
  • Kratki Stiki (Short Circuits; 2006) by Janez Lapajne. Series of poignant vignettes reveal the complexities of city life and human emotion.

Gazvoda also highly recommends any of the short films of Karpo Godina (1943–), a cinematographer and film director.

Feature: The World's Best-Known Philosopher

With Slovenia’s cultural emphasis on the spoken word, it’s not surprising that one of the world’s best-known philosophers would end up being a Slovene.

Slavoj Žižek (1941–) was born in Ljubljana and spent his boyhood on the Adriatic. He's authored dozens of philosophical works, appeared regularly in mainstream literary journals like the London Review of Books, and starred in several films, including The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006) and The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012).

While Žižek cut his philosophical teeth in the neo-Marxism that was fashionable in the 1960s and ’70s, today it’s hard to pin him down on any hard-and-fast political or philosophical idea. He relishes more the role of the spoiler, staking out unpopular positions on issues and challenging his followers to rebut him.

One area in which he’s been relatively consistent is his rejection of the political centre-left, which he accuses of not being radical enough. He famously praised US President Donald Trump in the run-up to the presidential election in 2016 as being preferable to Trump’s challenger, Hillary Clinton.

Žižek is widely published in English and any decent bookshop will have an entire shelf of his works. Experts divide his titles between pop and serious philosophy, though none are considered boring.

Sidebar: French Novelist Charles Nodier

The French novelist Charles Nodier (1780–1844), who lived and worked in Ljubljana from 1811 to 1813 during the so-called period of the Illyrian Provinces, described Slovenia as ‘an Academy of Arts and Sciences’ because of the people’s flair for speaking foreign languages.

Sidebar: Janez Vajkard Valvasor

Janez Vajkard Valvasor’s explanation of how the water system in Lake Cerknica worked earned him membership in London's Royal Society in 1687, the world’s foremost scientific institution at the time.

Sidebar: Slovenia's Literature Market

Slovenia is the third-smallest literature market in Europe (a fiction ‘best seller’ means 500 to 800 copies sold) and in the EU only the Danes borrow more library books than the Slovenes; the annual average is 10 books per person.

Sidebar: Slovenian Folk Songs

The bilingual Slovenian Folk Songs/Slovenske Ljudske Pesmi (ed Marko Terseglav) is a good introduction to what was (and sometimes still is) sung up in them thar hills.

Sidebar: Tomaž Hostnik, Punk Band Leader

The leader of celebrated punk band Laibach, Tomaž Hostnik, died tragically in 1982 when he hanged himself from a kozolec, the traditional Slovenian hayrack.

Sidebar: Architectural Guide to Ljubljana

Architectural Guide to Ljubljana (2007), by Andrej Hrausky and Janez Koželj, is a richly illustrated guide to more than 100 buildings and other features in the capital, with much emphasis on architect extraordinaire Jože Plečnik.

Sidebar: Slovenian Film Centre Website

The website of the Slovenian Film Centre (www.film-center.si) will tell you everything you need to know about films and filming in Slovenia.