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When Tourism Was Still in Its Early Stages

The Rules of the Society for Beautification of the Market Town of Postojna for the Welcoming of Foreign Travelers were published in 1883 and were bilingual, written in German and Slovenian. The rules of this Postojna "tourism" society were probably the first rules of any such society that were written in the Slovenian language and show the important contribution that a local society made to the development of tourism in Slovenia.

First page of the manuscript.

Rules of the Society for Beautification of the Market Town of Postojna for the Welcoming of Foreign Travelers, p. 1 | Author Arhiv Republike Slovenije

Rules of the Society for Beautification of the Market Town of Postojna for the Welcoming of Foreign Travelers

Postojna is among those Slovenian towns that witnessed an early development of tourism. The reason for that was not only the vicinity of the Postojna cave, which had been researched by individual visitors since medieval times, but also the town's geographical position at the crossroads of routes leading from Vienna to Trieste and to Reka (Opatija). Railway aided considerably to the growth of tourism which as the act of traveling for pleasure first appeared in Europe in the mid-19th century. In 1857, the railway line from Ljubljana to Trieste via Postojna was opened for the first time.

The "Rules of the Society for Beautification of the Market Town of Postojna for the Welcoming of Foreign Travelers" were published on January 15, 1883. By adopting these bilingual rules, written in German and Slovenian and sent to the District Board of Postojna, the Society was officially founded. At the time, great efforts were made to facilitate tourist access to the Postojna cave. In 1872, the cave got its own railway track, making it the world's first underground railway, and in 1884, electric lighting was added. In 1891, the Society for the Research of the Cave called Antron was founded as well. Even prior to that, in 1874, a luxury hotel Adelsbergerhof, owned by a Swiss Franc Progler, was built in Postojna. At the start of the 20th century Postojna also had a number of smaller hotels (Narodni Hotel, Hotel pri Ogrski kroni, Hotel Ribnik, Hotel Adria), as well as several other accommodation facilities (pubs and pensions). Such accommodations were indispensable considering that there was a mass of people coming to Postojna to attend various organized events. In addition to regularly scheduled trains from Vienna to Trieste, there were also special trains arriving to Postojna. One of such well attended events was the celebration of Whit Monday, which has been taking place in the Postojna cave since 1825. Guests complaining about the pubs in the area being crammed to capacity prompted the cave administration to publish propaganda guides and distribute them to the local pubs to assure a more even occupancy of tourist accommodations. Since hours of walking in the cave was considered to be too exhausting for the guests, the cave commission also made a decision to lay railway tracks in the cave.

The first tourism societies were established in Switzerland, more precisely in Montreux (this society's rules date back to 1851) and in Ragaz (1871). In the Slovenian territory, the first societies of this kind were German (Veschönerungsverein); known are the rules of the societies from Celje (1871), Kranj (1875), and Maribor (1877). The mentioned 1883 rules of the Society for Beautification of the Market Town of Postojna can be considered as one of the first rules of such kind written in the Slovenian language. The society itself was a Slovenian society and carried out its activities using the Slovenian language.

In the Austrian Empire, the first society of this kind was established in Graz in 1879 as a Tourist Committee (although established already in 1876 within the German-Austrian Alpine association, it did not actually start its work before 1879). In Tyrol, a regional tourism organization was formed in 1890 as an association of spas and tourism societies. In Lower Austria, a regional organization of such type was established in 1903, while in Vienna a society similar to that in Graz was founded in 1882 as the Viennese Society for the Benefits of the Town and Tourism.

Carniola got its first act on spas, bathing facilities and resorts in 1897 and Styria in 1898. By the end of the 19th century, first guides were being published. Carniolan regional association for tourism was founded on June 24, 1905, leaning considerably on the work of organizations and societies operating in Bled, Bohinj, and Postojna. Based in Ljubljana at the hotel Lloyd, the association's first president was Ubald von Trkoczy, among its members were also the Postojna district governor Štefan Lapajne and the district commissioner dr. Rudolf Andrejka. In the following years a number of organizations and societies were established all over the territory of Slovenia and by 1937 there were 72 tourism and beautification societies registered in the Drava Banovina, all of them joined within the Ljubljana and Maribor tourism associations.

In order for such tourism societies to flourish, proper tourist facilities and tourist offer had to be provided. Let us have a look at how major facilities and spas were constructed. Bathing facilities were built above the hot springs in Bled in 1853 (today this is close to the Toplice Hotel). In 1854, a Swiss natural healer Arnold Rikli started his health tourism in Bled and two hotels were built by the lake in 1871. Trieste had two hotels in 1850, Hotel Metternich and Hotel de France. In Postojna Grand Hotel Adelsbergerhof was opened in 1874, in Portorož a spa was built in 1894 (the association constructing it was founded in 1890), in Ljubljana Hotel Union was opened in 1905 and in Portorož Hotel Palace in 1912.

Spa tourism developed very early on. A large bathing facility opened in Rogaška Slatina in 1810 (the first facility for the guests was built already in 1676), followed by the spa resort Slatina Radenci in 1882. In Laško, hot springs were prepared for use in 1818 and a modern spa and health resort was built there in 1854. In total, 11 spas operated in the Drava banovina in the 1930s. The existing tourist infrastructure revealed the need for the founding of beautification societies and tourism associations to promote tourism. These were to be founded with the support of local administration.

The original of here presented 1883 "Rules of the Society for Beautification of the Market Town of Postojna for the Welcoming of Foreign Travelers" is kept among the series of societies’ rules as part of the records of Drava banovina. Among the records of the District Board of Postojna (SI AS 136, box 41) we can also find a certified transcription of these rules from 1905. They are particularly interesting because they are written not only in the German but also in the Slovenian language, which is no coincidence. Namely, at the time, the head of the Postojna Distric Board was Anton Globočnik. An ardent patriot, he was the secretary of the “Dunajska Slovenija” Society in Vienna in 1848, and one of the few Slovenian attendants of the Prague Slavic Congress. Globočnik was also a strong supporter of Slovenian schools which is why one of the primary schools in Postojna is named after him. In any case, the rules presented here as this month's archivalia show the important contribution that a local society made to the development of tourism in Slovenia.

Natalija Glažar