Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass

Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass

Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass

Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass

The Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass (SloveneRuska kapelica na Vršiču) is a Russian Orthodox chapel located on the Russian Road on the northern side of the Vršič Pass in northwestern Slovenia. The chapel, dedicated to Saint Vladimir, was built by Russian prisoners of war engaged in forced labour in the area during World War I. It serves as a war memorial and a symbolic link between Slovenia and Russia.

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History

In early 1915, the small town of Kranjska Gora suddenly became strategically important due to its proximity to the Isonzo Front. To facilitate access from the town to the front, the Austro-Hungarian authorities ordered the construction of a military road across the Vršič Pass, a 1,611 m pass between the Sava and SočaValleys, to be built by Russian prisoners of war (POWs).

The road was begun in May 1915 and was completed by the end of the year. To ensure an uninterrupted supply of materiel to the front lines, the pass was to be kept traversable year-round, and the POWs were forced to clear the road of heavy snowfall. On 8 or 12 March 1916 (sources vary), an avalanche buried a POW work camp, killing approximately 110 prisoners and about seven guards. During the construction, there were more than 380 casualties in total. Exact casualty figures were never determined, either for the victims of the avalanche or for those of the brutal overwork and appalling conditions.

The Russian camp was located roughly halfway up the slope of Vršic. Until November 1916, the remaining prisoners built a small wooden memorial chapel. The building is of typical Russian design, with two small towers on either side of the nave, and is surrounded by prisoners’ graves and a pyramid-shaped memorial marker to the immediate right of the chapel, with the Cyrillic inscription reading “To the sons of Russia”.

The site was renovated in 2005 at the cost of €90,000 and again in 2010 after a theft of the copper roof plates. The pass road on the Kranjska Gora side from the Erika Hotel to the top was renamed “Russian Road” (Ruska cesta) in June 2006.

Russian chapel on Vršič pass near Kranjska Gora and near to Erjavčeva's mountain hut

Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass

Russian Chapel on the Vršič Pass

To hike from Erjavčeva mountain hut (Erjavčeva koča) to the Russian Chapel (Ruska kapelica), you can follow these general directions:

Start at Erjavčeva koča: Begin your hike from Erjavčeva koča, which is a mountain hut located near Kranjska Gora in Slovenia. Ensure you have all necessary supplies, such as water, food, proper clothing, and navigation equipment.

Check the Trail: Before starting your hike, it’s advisable to check the trail conditions and weather forecasts. Trails in mountainous areas can be steep and challenging, so preparation is essential.

Follow the Trail Markers: The route from Erjavčeva koča to the Russian chapel will be marked with trail markers or signs. Follow these markers to stay on the correct path. You may want to obtain a detailed area map or use a GPS device to help navigate the trails.

Ascend Through the Mountains: The hike from Erjavčeva koča to the Russian chapel will likely involve ascending through the mountains. Be prepared for uphill sections and varying terrain. Take your time and pace yourself accordingly.

Enjoy the Scenery: As you hike, take time to appreciate the stunning scenery of the Julian Alps and the surrounding landscapes. There may be opportunities to photograph or soak in the area’s natural beauty.

Reach the Russian Chapel: Continue following the trail until you reach the Russian chapel. This chapel is a historic landmark nestled in the mountains and is a popular destination for hikers in the region.

Return Trip: After visiting the Russian chapel, you can retrace your steps to Erjavčeva koča or explore nearby trails and attractions. Be sure to allow enough time to return before dark and be mindful of your energy levels.

Remember to respect the natural environment and leave no trace of your visit. Hiking in mountainous terrain requires careful planning and attention to safety, so always be prepared for changing conditions and unexpected challenges.

Accommodation in a mountain hut

Trips and Hikes around the hut

Trips and Hikes on the map

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Erjavceva mountain hut at Vrsic pass in summer

Erjavčeva mountain hut is open the whole year. Reserve your stay and spend some time in the natural paradise of Triglav National Park (UNESCO) near Kranjska Gora on Vršič mountain pass in the heart of Triglav National Park.

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