The highest peak of Žumberak mountain and all north-western Croatia is Sveta gera, 1178 m.
It is situated next to the Slovenian border and is surrounded with thick forest and hilly grassland Kaštanice. Forest plateau on the top is the place where folk parties and stock fairs used to be held (later moved to Sošice), and today it is a popular mountaineers’ and pilgrims’ destination.
Since 1994 on last Sunday in January a traditional winter mountaineers’ march from Sošice to Sveta Gera with church service has been holding near the ruins of St Ilija the Prophet’s Greek Catholic Chapel built in the 16th century. The pilgrimage is held on the first Sunday after St Ilija’s Festival. At the beginning of the 1990s, archaeological excavations were carried out and ruins of the stone church were protected with a characteristic wooden cover.
There is a small mountaineers’ shelter inside the church as well. On Slovenian side there are ruins of St Jere’s Church where a tall tree of European mountain-ash grows – it is decorated with white flowers in spring and red fruits in summer. It is interesting that the state border passes directly through the middle of ruins of the two churches.
Nearby is Jarak Moor – the endangered habitat of rare plant species. Not far away from Sveta Gera, rare species of black salamander has been found. It can live only on great heights above sea-level and females lay live babies.
St Gera is a patron saint of farmers, widows, heat, boarding houses and travelers. Statue of St Gera from St Gera’s Church is made of lime-wood and is kept in Dolenjska museum in Novo Mesto. In the area of Kuti “Queen of beeches” grows – the straightest beech tree in Europe! Mountaineers’ trail from Sveta Gera to Sošice is marked for the first time as long as 1889.
HOW TO GET THERE…
⟩By car: Samobor – Bregana – Grdanjci – Stojaga – Budinjak – Petričko selo – Tomaševci (from Tomašavci further on is a macadam road)
⟩by car or by hiking along macadam road Sošice – Sveta Gera (11 km)
⟩By mountaineers’ trail to Mountaineers’ lodge “Boris Farkaš”, Sekulići (2h walk)
⟩or to Mountain house “Vodice” below Pliješ (2h walk)