What is the purpose of architecture, beside the utilitarian and aesthetic one? It is to teach us history, like in the case of this small quaint chapel in the middle of Slovenian woods.
During my recent trip to Slovenia I stumbled upon an odd piece of architecture, a Russian chapel, standing amid the forest near the edge of the Vršič pass road at some 1,600 m altitude.
What struck me as odd was the typical Russian design which was never to be expected in the western Balkans. This has made me research, naturally, and I’ve learned that the chapel was initially built in 1916 by WWI Russian prisoners that had been ordered by Austro-Hungarian authorities to build a road through then strategically important town of Kranjska Gora. The prisoners worked in appalling conditions fighting heavy snowfall, and during an avalanache some 300 of them were killed. A year later a Russian memorial chapel was built by the remaining prisoners to honour their perished comrades.
My picture shows the chapel as it was renovated in 2005, a year before the Vršič road itself was renamed Ruska cesta (Russian Road) in memory of the killed soldiers.
Being a reminder of WWI, and a symbolic link between Slovenia and Russia, this little chapel provided me with another lesson in history.
Here is a traditional Russian song (instrumental) I hope you’ll like.