1With its favorable location and rugged terrain, the Šentviška Gora Plateau attracted its first settlers in prehistoric times. Numerous archaeological finds show that by the Late Iron Age the plateau offered shelter and a home to the prehistoric inhabitants of today’s Most na Soči, who were fleeing from the invading Celts.

The first records on settlements on the Šentviška Gora Plateau reach back to 1192. By this time, Šentviška Gora had become a strong religious and administrative center. Alongside Bovec and Volče, it is among the oldest parishes in the Tolmin region. In addition to the villages on the plateau, the Parish of Šentviška Gora also included all neighboring settlements in the Idrijca and Bača valleys. For a short period of time, its influence extended even deeper into the heart of the land, all the way to Cerkno and Spodnja Idrija.

2In the second half of the nineteenth century, life on the plateau was especially marked by the emerging national cultural movement. Remote mountainous areas were struck by a fresh breeze of Slovenian identity, which aroused the until now assiduous plateau farmers. Part-time primary schools were established (the first one in Šentviška Gora in 1881) along with reading societies and societies that promoted ethnic awareness. Culture life began to blossom, which was especially active and rich in choir singing.

The wave of change and innovations that reached the calm life on the plateau did more than enrich and change it. With growing force, it broke through the invisible barriers that had been separating the plateau residents from life down in the valley. Their views and desires began to extend further and further down the valley, towards the sea and the fertile plains of Carniola. Many left, following the growing stirrings and in search of better opportunities to make a living. The plateau was no longer capable of providing a decent life to all its inhabitants. The traditional food production methods that had remained the same for centuries could no longer provide for the increasing number of hungry mouths.

3And then came war. Young men went off to the battlefields. Scared and hungry refugees came from nearby places in the Soča Valley. Exhausted soldiers sought shelter in the comfort of the plateau in order to rest and eat before returning to the front. The threatening thunder of war was constantly present, and along with poverty continued to drain and smother life on the plateau.

During the peaceful interwar period, social life flourished with even greater vigor, but not for long. Fascist pressure grew stronger every year, and the Slovenian language was increasingly persecuted. The war of liberation that also flared up on the Šentviška Gora Plateau gave the people a chance to stand up and fight for their homes, their beliefs, and the Slovenian language. But the excitement over the victory soon evaporated. Young people started leaving their homes in search of work in the nearby industrial towns in the valley. The fields and meadows that had demanded such a heavy burden of toil to clear now began overgrowing. Once mighty farms were abandoned and began decaying.

4As though the Šentviška Gora Plateau had not been devastated enough, it was struck by an earthquake in 1976. Cracks were visible mostly on the prominent and rarely renovated buildings. However, among the few people that still remained on the plateau, it took nothing less than an earthquake to awaken their last remaining energy. With great zeal and the substantial financial aid that was given to the Tolmin region at that time, the people began renovating their homes. They built new houses, bought new farming equipment, updated the road infrastructure, and gained a factory, water supply system, and telephone lines—and they stayed. They were no longer so strongly drawn to the lure of the valley, the crowded towns and factories. Modernized farms and a steady income on their doorsteps allowed a good and decent living even on the remote Šentviška Gora Plateau.

5Despite the profound changes that affected the plateau in recent decades, it has preserved a predominately farming character. Narrow winding roads meander among the green hills and connect restored villages, where children’s laughter and kind words echo in the air. Fields and pastures are carefully cultivated and groomed. The never-fully-understood play of nature never ceases to amaze, and it manifests itself in all its beauty and diversity. Every single step reveals traces of a rich and diverse past to the watchful eye.

All this and more can be found on the Šentviška Gora Plateau. Hospitable and friendly, it embraces everyone that wishes to get to know, explore, and experience it.