The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic
The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic – Heritage of the First World War is part of the Tentative list of Slovenia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic represents 15 sites in remembrance of the First World War. They include military cemeteries, the Bohinj railway and a Russian Orthodox chapel built by Prisoners of War. The most important and one of the most ferocious battlefields was the Isonzo Front.
Map of The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the AdriaticLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
The three locations I visited from this nomination were railway infrastructure sites in the town of Nova Gorica, right up against the Italian border. The nomination is focused on the sites role in the First World War, and how the militarisation of the landscape and redrawing of the boundaries in the area left a tangible effect on the natural environment, something which was continued thirty years later as the Iron curtain fell across the same corner of Europe.
I have a hazy knowledge of the Isonzo Front and knew it was relevant to this area, even reading the notice boards around the station. I imagine if your were interested in this history Nova Goricia would be an incidental stopping place for you, and as such I can’t really make a judgement on whether this site as a whole is worth inscription, though the natural setting on the Soca/ Isonzo is a rather spectacular and as a whole it is a lovely area to visit.
However, It’s not about the shark!
I wasn’t in Nova Gorica to visit this tentative site. I was in Nova Gorica for purely functional reasons. I had landed at Trieste airport and wanted to get to Skocjan caves, the public transport connections led me to pretty much only one route and one place to stay overnight.
There isn’t a bus to Nova Gorica from the airport though, so I had to get a bus to the Italian town of Gorizia (or Old Goricia if you want to keep to that format) and walk across the whole town into a new country and effectively across centuries worth of history.
At the end of the second World War Gorizia ended up on the Italian side of the border and the government of Yugoslavia built the new settlement, with some glitzy brutalist casinos to tempt patrons across the newly installed “Iron Curtain”.
The town was built and planned by a disciple of le Corbusier, and the casinos give it a sort of odd feel. Las Vegas has themed casinos based on New York, Paris and Venice, I guess this is what it would feel like if ever there was one based on Minsk.
I had a very enjoyable evening in the town, sitting on some lovely beer terraces enjoying the final games of the group stages of the European Football championships, viewing my first Spomenik and seeing how many litres of gelato it was possible for one person to eat.
My walk across the two towns to get to this idyllic evening was on a baking hot, sleepy afternoon, fortunately my inbuilt radar got me to a midway stop at a Bier Keller for a bit of rest before heading off for something surprisingly significant.
My walk from the Bier Keller in Gorizia to Nova Goricia proper led me on to the crossing of the former Iron curtain. To me this was something rather special.
I studied 20th European history pretty extensively at University, and focused particularly on the Cold War division of Central Europe between 1945 and 1990. So now being able to see where this physically happened was a surprisingly emotive thing for me, like seeing the remnants of the Berlin Wall for the first time.
But there was even more to it than that. Thanks to the Erasmus programme I was able to go and study in Olomouc, (incidentally starting off this quest to visit World Heritage Sites), as the Czech Republic and its neighbours "Returned to Europe" but also to feel the changes across Europe that came in the post Cold War era as these former communist and Socialist states joined the European Union and pulled down the old borders. This meant the former hard border in front of me wasn’t some historical relic, but was now a demonstration of this new open liberal Europe that I felt was the continent that my generation was helping to shape.
My first time of walking across the Iron Curtain (outside of Berlin) was accompanied by a family rollerblading and some people walking a dog. So exceptionally mundane and everyday, yet this was arguably the greatest political achievement of the continent in the last 100 years.
Much like the former military infrastructure of the Izonzo front that makes up this nomination, the traces of the former borders were now relics, and it felt like the world was a better more welcoming place because of it.
So I don’t have a huge amount to say about the tentative site, I didn’t see anything particularly remarkable and I would be surprised if it ever progressed to being inscribed on the list, however this was a trip that has lived long and vivid in my memory, seeing my home continent so free and easy to travel across after centuries of conflict was pretty life affirming.
(Site 2: Experience 10)
2016 Added to Tentative List
The site has 22 locations