Things to see and do in Gradež

Today Gradež is most known for its fruit drying house. It is arguably the only still working village fruit drying house in Slovenia.

In 2006 a permanent exhibition about the history of Gradež has been opened in the room next to the drying house.

In Gradež, field trips for schools are organized, where the young learn how fruits and vegetables are ecologically grown and preserved. Workshops are also organized, to teach participants the craft of hand-making toothpicks and wicker baskets. Dried fruits, krhljevka (boiled dried fruits spiced with lemon juice), dried fruits in honey, dried fruits in brandy, homemade marmalade, fruit juice and other bites are always available in the drying house. The production of such food is often shown to children, members of different associations or unions, hikers and other visitors.

Every year, on the third Sunday in September, the activities of the Association are presented at the Gradež Dried Fruits Festival. At that time, the drying oven is always filled up so the visitors can taste freshly dried fruits, and can also experience the very process of drying along with its fruity scents. At the Festival, guests can also visits other interesting sites of Gradež, and can get to know the activities of the Association for Preserving Heritage, which is supported by the Municipality Velike Lašče and many other donors. The Festival ends with folk music and dances.

The drying house is also a place where villagers get together and revive old customs. This is where the members of the group Dry Plums are very good at, since they are trying to preserve old folk lyrics and instruments.

Not far from the drying house, under the Zabukovec’ kozolec visitors can see a collection of old equipment and tools, and can take a rest on the hay afterwards. The farm Zabukovec demonstrates the production of cheese from cow’s milk and fruit and vegetable processing to the visitors.

There is an energy spot not far from the village – this is how the villagers describe a cave called “Pušava”. People from Gradež still use an inexhaustible water source Mrzlica that springs below the village.

A composer Marij Kogoj can be best presented by another composer Jakob Jež, who lives in Gradež and is a member of the Association for Preserving Heritage. A CD with Kogoj’s solos is also available, and a house where the composer used to live is still standing in Gradež, now owned by a private owner. Currently, work on a Kogoj Promenade is in progress in Gradež.

Gradež is presented in a leaflet Gradež Fruit Drying House, in the brochure Kozolci of Velike Lašče, where Strle’s kozolec with a wheeled drawer for drying of millet is presented as a peculiarity. Also, the fruit drying process is presented in a special brochure.

REGULAR TOURIST PROGRAMME – EXPERIENCE OUR AUTHENTIC COUNTRY FAIRY TALE

Are you interested in seeing more than a 200-year-old inn cellar and more than a 150-year-old black kitchen? Have you ever tried »krhljak« (bread made of dried fruits) or drunk »krhljevka« (dessert of stewed dried fruit)? Do you know where Bajdinec waterfalls are or what does a picture of a bird on a house represent? We offer you a one-day trip to find out and experience all (lasting from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.). By taking you through our village Gradež you will be able to take a rest in a peaceful and green environment and to learn about the heritage of our ancestors.
The journey begins in our old fruit drying house at the beginning of the village where the fruit is dried in the same way as 100 years ago. You will be able to see a collection of old agricultural tools exhibited under a hay-rack, old enough that many items need an explanation of their usage. At the same time you will find out some interesting facts about the origin and the history of the village as well as get to know some old folk customs and habits.
Besides a black kitchen and an old cellar there are other points of interest: stone houses, a wooden 100-year-old granary, old wells and hay-racks, a glass bee-hive with queens next to a bee-house and many more. In the central part of the village there is a house that used to belong to a famous composer Marij Kogoj and his family. The composer is well-known for his opera Black masks. You will be offered millet porridge with dried plums, »krhljak«, »krhljevka«, home-made apple juice etc.
Our local guide will take you towards Sloga Gora to a beautiful panoramic point of St. Ahac which is famous for a free-standing bell tower built on the foundations of a former stronghold against the Turks. The church is named after a saint Ahac. The Turks were conquered by Andrej Turjaški at Sisak (Croatia) 420 years ago on his name day (June 22).
The route will then lead you towards pictoresque Bajdinec waterfalls. In wonderful greenery you will be able to pick up wild garlic and the lilies of the valley in the spring, mushrooms in the autumn etc. You will get to the castle complex by passing the chapel with a tomb and an interesting relic – a heart of an only 23-year-old count Hanno Auersperg – Turjaški, who was to die because of an unrequited love for a peasant girl, the legend says. Turjak castle, in its Renaissance image dating from the 16th century, is still one of the mightiest castles in former Carniola region.
You will stop to have a snack. You will also be able to try in archery by prior arrangement. You will return to Gradež in the afternoon where you will be able to attend various workshops on farm chores (making toothpicks, weaving of baskets, sowing or planting crops etc.). You will prepare a local-dish dinner together with the locals in the evening. The photos speak for themselves!

Duration of the programme: from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.

Term of the programme: all year (by prior arrangement)

Sort of programme: an easy walk through the village, a slightly more-demanding 4-hour walk on a marked route

Sign-up: at least a day in advance

Price list:

  • a guided tour through Gradež with food tasting (from 9.00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m.): 8 EUR/person
  • a social evening with tasting local dishes (from 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.): 10 EUR/person
  • a local workshop in Gradež: 10 EUR/group
  • a local guided-tour (Gradež–Ahac–Turjak–Gradež): 40 EUR/group
  • an archery workshop: 50 EUR/person
  • Lunch, accomodation and transport can also be arranged by choice for an extra charge. There is also a possibility of a several day programme – described in a leaflet.