Among all historical events in the Soča Valley the Isonzo Front stands out the most. After the Kingdom of Italy entered the First World War, a 90 km long front line opened on the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, stretching from Julian Alps to the Adriatic sea.
Ravelnik and Stržišče are smaller hills on Bovec field where the Austro-Hungarian defenders set up their base. From here they defended a road over the pass Predel and later a road over the pass Vršič. Both roads were of the utmost importance to supply the troops on the Isonzo front, as the soldiers needed a huge amount of ammunition, food and medicine every day. Stronghold on Ravelnik and Stržišče played a big role in the 12th Isonzo battle, also known as the Miracle of Caporetto.
A circular route runs along the remains of the first Austro-Hungarian line of defence. Besides the trenches and connection galleries, there are also some caverns, pillboxes, machine-gun emplacements and reconstructed cabins.
Austrian soldiers protected the stronghold on Ravelnik and Stržišče with trenches, deep enough to hide a man. Trenches were toughen with twisted branches and some covered with logs. At first, the Austrian army had only four soldiers in those trenches. They have placed guns on certain spots and shot with them just somewhere for Italians to think there are more soldiers on the defenders side.
2 to 3 meters in front of the trenches barbed wire was laced, to guard stronghold against sudden attacks. Trenches can still be seen today, but are not as deep as they were. Locals later filled them with soil for safety reasons.
Caverns and bunkers
Soldiers could not walk on the slopes of the two hills because they were too visible. Where the forest flourishes today there were no trees back then. Therefore, both of the hills were drilled with caves and bunkers. The drilling was done by local miners from Log pod Mangartom who worked in Raibl Mines in Italy before the outbreak of the war.
At the top of Ravelnik you can still see the crater on the site where the Italian grenade fell. Grenade was fired from the village of Sella Nevea in Italy and was the only grenade that actually hit Ravelnik. Luckily all defenders were in the caverns so no one was injured. Crater was 8 meters deep, but also that hole was later filled the locals for safety reasons.
The supplies were transported to the settlement with a cargo cable car from the village of Koritnica that was connected to an officers cottage. Electricity wires were also leading to the officers cottage from hydro power plant on the Koritnica river. In front of this cottage you can also see a small chapel, carved into the rock. In the niche the soldiers placed a wooden cross.
Under the officers cottage you can see a small kitchen and on the plateau in front of it the soldiers have arranged a dining place. Meals of the soldiers on mountain battlefields of the Isonzo Front were poor and irregular. The meals varied on the rank, time of year, nationality and religious affiliation. Towards the end of the war the food supply declined and soldiers morale dropped sharply. At the end of the Isonzo front the Austro-Hungarian soldiers, on average, weighed only 48 kilos.
On a relatively small area a great number of remains can be seen. The important points are marked with information boards. All in the shadow of the trees, easily accessible and tidy.
To get the most out of your visit I deeply recommend you get a guide. This will give you a full explanation of all the events that happened in our valley during the First World War. Guided tours are organized by the 1313 Group. Tours run in 5 languages (English, Slovenian, German, Italian and Croatian) and take about an hour – depending on group size and the amount of questions you have. You can also book the tour with us and we’ll take you to the spot and arrange it all.
And yes, your guide gets dressed up in uniform for the occasion. It will help you get the feeling you just jumped back in time. And, do not forget to mention his medals for bravery and merit. He’s very proud of those.
- always open
- free entry
HOW TO GET THERE
- Ravelnik outdoor museum map
- take regional road Bovec – Predel (R1 – 203)
- 1km from Bovec you will see on the right side of the road a wooden cottage – Bar Breg
- park your car there and continue walking
- follow the signs “Pot miru” (Path of Peace), leading the way across the field toward the Ravelnik hill
- before entering the circular path through the open-air museum has info board with additional information
- easy to moderate
DURATION OF THE TOUR
- 30 min (1km)
- caverns are not lighted so we recommend using flashlights
- in case of rain or snow the trail is slippery, so walking shoes are recommended