12 Days of Slovenia & Trieste (Part 8): The Kingdom of the Zlatorog.


This digression is launched by memories of a beer from Slovenia called Laško Zlatorog

I remember the beer from my visit to Yugoslavia in 1987, and it might once have been available in America on a sporadic basis, maybe even now. The bottles I remember were the old chunky half-liters with brown glass, not this sleek modern version.

However it never occurred to me to learn what “zlatorog” means, so in order to explain, observe that Bled in Slovenia, where we’re spent the weekend, lies just a few miles from Triglav National Park which Lonely Planet describes:

Triglav National Park (Triglavski Narodni Park; commonly abbreviated as TNP), with an area of 840 sq km (over 4% of Slovenian territory), is one of the largest national reserves in Europe. It is a pristine, visually spectacular world of rocky mountains – the centrepiece of which is Mt Triglav (2864m), the country’s highest peak – as well as river gorges, ravines, lakes, canyons, caves, rivers, waterfalls, forests and Alpine meadows.

Hence, the Zlatorog, or Golden Horn.

Enter the Kingdom of the Zlatorog

One of Slovenia’s best-known legends tells of a golden-horned chamois who reigned over the Julian Alps. Enter his kingdom and search for his greatest treasures, which lie hidden in Triglav National Park and its surroundings.

Wikipedia summarizes the story of the Zlatorog, as recorded in 1868 by the writer Karl Deschmann.

Goldhorn’s golden horns were the key to a treasure hidden in the mountains around Triglav. A young and brave hunter from the Trenta Valley fell in love with a beautiful girl and managed to win her heart by bringing her beautiful flowers. However, one day, a rich merchant from Venice came by and tried to gain her attention by giving her golden jewelery and dancing with her. As the hunter approached the girl, she mocked him. The hunter was desperate and left. Persuaded by another hunter, called the green hunter, who was said to have brought about the fate of several honest boys, he decided to go that very night to find Goldhorn and claim his treasure. In the morning, they found the animal, shot it, and pursued it. The dying animal dragged itself onto a narrow, rocky ledge. Suddenly the boy saw on a dangerous trail the most beautiful and healing flowers. The green hunter forced him on to catch the Goldhorn before it ate the magic Triglav flowers that grew from its blood, but it was too late. The Goldhorn had already eaten one and the flower gave it tremendous life power. It ran towards the hunter, who being blinded by the bliss of its golden horns, lost balance and fell from the mountain. The river Soča brought his corpse to the vale.

I’ll let you know if we found one — the mythological white chamois buck, not the beer; I’m fairly confident of the ubiquity of the latter.