How has been a man able to survive in an environment in which there is too much stone and too little soil and water?
Man has been striving to live and survive on the karst landscape by cultivating and changing it into an agricultural, wooded and living environment.
Man has been striving to live and survive on the stony karst landscape for millennia. Cultivating and changing a natural environment in which there is too much stone and too little soil and water into agricultural and wooded areas, as well as a living environment.
Removing surface stones and using them to construct walls (as borders, marking pastures and vineyards, offering protection), escarpments, ponds, icehouses, lime-kilns, wells, houses, huts and roadside shrines. Collecting fertile soil and using it to make fields, gardens and vineyards. Cultivating the bottoms of dolines close to home and further afield on the karst plateaus. Walling off the red soil in the valleys so as to protect it against the burja wind and other hazards. Cutting down trees and changing woods into pastures. Herds of karst sheep grazed on what the washed-off soil managed to produce in cracks on the rough surface. Man persisted: he replanted trees in cleared areas and covered the stony fields with new soil in order to survive. And man continues to live on the karst, adapting to the fragile environment, sometimes altering it unsuitably but, above all, preserving its heritage.
… Notranjska as the fourth part, encompassing the Kras, Pivka and everything that belongs there, has four groups of inhabitants: Vipavci, Kraševci, Čiči and true Carniolans. These four groups differ in both their language and dress, as well as in every other regard… (Valvasor)
Because of its unique natural and cultural landscape, the karst area in western Slovenia, the Kras, is world famous. Man lives here, learning to accept its characteristics and altering them with time. The stony surface determined the Kras architecture with its characteristic karst houses, open-hearth kitchen extensions, full-length balconies, stone gateways and door frames, wells, courtyards, trellises, walls, dry stone huts, roadside shrines, etc. The houses in typical, close-set villages separated by boundary walls were protected by roofs covered with stone or special roof tiles, additionally weighed down with stones; there were also walls around the fertile dolines. Stone objects, both utilitarian and decorative, displaying all the elements of the art of building, were made by local stonecutters.
… Here, the ground is relentlessly rocky beyond any measure. There are as many hillocks, hills and elevations as there are waves on a stormy sea; more than anything, the surface is uneven, nothing in the Kras is as regular as irregularity... (Valvasor)
Author: Magda Peršič