The Legend of the Heathen Maiden

Heathen Maiden, Vršič Pass, Slovenia

This is Ajdovska deklica, or the Heathen Maiden, whose forlorn visage hangs permanently on the sheer rock face of the 2,547m (8,356 ft) high Prisojnik, a mountain that forms part of the eastern wall of Slovenia’s Vršič pass. It’s a natural formation caused by rock fractures that rests at the center of an oft-told local legend.

According to local lore, the Ajdovska maidens were fortune tellers, or Fates, in the Kranjska Gora region of the Julian Alps. Like a living Farmer’s Almanac, they advised on planting and harvesting, but it was for their soothsaying powers and the prophesies they dispensed to newborns which got this one in trouble.

Legend describes her as a kind and warm-hearted woman, one who would help guide locals through the various dangers inherent to life in and near the mountain pass and the valleys it connected. That mattered little to her fellow maidens when they learned of a fortune she foretold to a hunter’s newborn son.

He would grow into a brave hunter, she said, unrivaled in all the valley. He would hunt and shoot a chamois with golden horns, sell them and become rich beyond his wildest dreams. Her forecast so angered the other Fates that they punished her by turning her to stone and banishing her to this west-facing wall of Prisojnik where she’ll forever stares blankly at tourists, travelers and mountaineers who snap her picture.

I posted about Vršič (with a short video) before, but in summary:

Reaching 1,611m (5,285 ft) the Vršič Pass is the highest mountain pass in Slovenia and in the eastern Julian Alps. It sits largely within Triglav National Park, connecting Krajnska Gora with the picturesque Trenta Valley. It was built by Russian POWs during World War I as an arms supply route for Austria-Hungary to the Isonzo (Soča River) Front – more evidence of the insane lengths man has gone in order to inflict pain on his fellow man.

It’s a stunning drive from both sides, heading in either direction, absolutely worth tacking on an extra day or two to a Slovenia itinerary.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 188th (!) straight, was snapped on 13-Jul-2014.

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  1. Maria says

    Great shot Bob and thanks for taking the time to discover the lore and pass it on to us here. I would love to see that formation and watch it throughout the day to see the sunlight move across it.

  2. So interesting this legend but tell us how it actually got to be there. I doubt it’s chance or nature, is it?

    1. Bob R says

      I just updated the text – yes, it is a natural formation caused by rock fractures.

  3. Christina says

    I like those tales. We have a lot of (similar) ones in Austria too. Great shot.

  4. Karen Warren says

    I love legends like this. And this one must be true – I can see her face quite clearly in the rock!

    1. Bob R says

      It is quite clear, isn’t it. 🙂

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