Museum of Slovenian Independence & a few Tanks!
It would be an extremely hard sell to entice the whole family to go visit a Tank Museum on your Green Slovenian hols.. but how about going to see a micro museum that explains Slovenia's short battle of Independence from Yugoslavia instead?!
It is not a subject easily brought up on your holidays with locals, so if you want to find out how Slovenia got it's independence in 1992, then this fantastic micro museum tells the story beautifully, with lots of exhibits, videos and first hand accounts from the couple of weeks where Slovenia said "no thanks" to Yugoslavia..
Living here we were always interested to find out more about the times when we were students, eating pizza and watching Michael Douglas films while Slovenians were fighting for their own country.
So we were delighted when the Tank Museum at nearby Pivka, just 20 mins from the Lodge, recently built a huge new hangar to become the only place we know in Slovenia where foreigners can stroll around and digest how Slovenian indepence was won.
The museum is truly dramatic and pretty much every narrative is translated into English, so you can read day by accounts of what happened.
Basically, Slovenians decided they wanted independence from the crumbling shell of Yugoslavia, held together by the army drawn from boys of every member republic.
The army was unleashed onto Slovenia, but the country was well prepared and the people stuck together to force the army out within a few weeks and relatively little bloodshed.
It is a fantastic story and explains part of how the much worse Balkons conflict kicked off.
You get a real sense of being there back in the 90's and we very much recommend you go up to the top floor in the main museum too to watch a really good video that also summarises the days of the short war.
Fantastic Museum for Wheelchair Access..
There is a lower car park, but also 2 smaller upper car parks closer to the main entrance. We tested this facilty for wheelchair access and ordered a wheelchair in advance and totally got around fine..
You do need to be relatively fit if you are pushing the wheelchair as the routes around the large museum complex are not direct and go uphill, but we are very happy to report that this museum is a wheelchair friendly facilty.
There are modern lifts in exactly the right places too..
What else is there to see at the Pivka Park of Military History?
This is NOT just a museum telling the story of Slovenian independence.. There are two other big hangars full of military vehicles, 2 floors of other displays in the main museum, a really fantastic shop packed with military souvenirs AND a fantastic restaurant which, apart from serving Guiness, also serves military menus if you want to try.. as well as local food too of course!
You probably have your own military museum at home, but this museum really does also have some other cool stuff that you might not have seen before..
We kinda called it the "Tank Museum" before it got the Independence building cos there are a lot of tanks here, but these are tanks from all over the world..
Again to briefly generalise, Tito was the main man in socialist Yugoslavia, keeping power with a huge army, big enough to say yes to the Americans and No to the Russians.. AND no to the Americans and Yes to Russians at the same time!
So he was given lots of hardware from lots of different countries and the iconic red star got painted onto these tanks and copters!
For a Welshman whose Grandfather worked on Spitfires it was an emotional experience to see the superb Spitfire exhibition with a really fascinating angle..
The display tells the story of a Spitfire that crashed into the Ljubljana marshes and was later dug up from a garden.. You can see videos of the process and what was dug up AND there is a Spitfire simulator, where you can sit in a mock cockpit and fly around.. this needs to be booked in advance.
There is a submarine you can squeeze yourself into, but otherwise the displays are more for looking at.
Another flight simulator that needs to be booked ahead is for a MIG housed in the Independence hall.
Despite being much larger than a typical Slovenian micro museum, you can get around here in a few hours if you want to and there is plenty of outdoor space.
Probably the final thing to mention is the geographic importance of this military museum, being located on the second defensive line set up by the Italians after WW1..
There is a network of tunnels, caves and trenches in a huge line that can also be explored either guided or on your own, that have a military significance, BUT also can be conquered with just a "being in nature vibe"..
There are many many secret places to visit here in Green Slovenia on a rainy day too and this big museum park would be on that list, but we hope we have also explained that it doesn't have to rain or you don't just have to be interested in tanks to come here and probably spend half the day..
You can also get great food, have a hike AND find out all about Slovenian independence too, so this museum might well be the cultural bit of your hols.. and even better.. it is NOT in Ljubljana, it is on the cusp of Slovenia's Mediterranean bit, with green hills all around!