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Romans on the marshes

River Ljubljanica emerges in vaucluse type springs near Vrhnika, runs across the Ljubljana Marshes, through Ljubljana and on to its cofluence with Sava.

As it flows across the almost completely flat marshes, Ljubljanica drops for less that 1 meter (actually the stream bed in Ljubljana is higher than 25 km upstream!) - so it gently meanders on its way:

Or does it?

The river channel is actually way too straight for this one-meter drop in 25 km. How? Enter - the Romans!

After the Empire conquered these lands in early 1st century AD, they saw Ljubljanica as a highway through the foreboding swamps and marshes (with all them dragons creeping in the permanent mist). Rowing along the meandering river was tiresome, so the practical Romans straightened it up to shorten the travel between Nauportus (today Vrhnika) and Emona (Ljubljana).

But wait, there is more!

As the Romas were searching around for a quality stone to build the palaces of Emona, they discovered a superb, beautiful dark marble outcrop, full of lithoid seashells in the south of Ljubljana Marshes, near today Podpec village.

Marble blocks were heavy to carry and transport, especially in that boggy marsh soil, so the practical Romans moved the whole river again - almost 5 km of it! - closer to the quarry, bulding a river port there. Just imagine the work that went into this extraordinary engineering achievement.

The old Roman channel soon silted up and is now just barly discernible:

Old Ljubljanica channel, photo courtesy of ModriDirkac)

So now we have three river channels running through Ljubljana Marshes: the primordial meandering one (that is completely silted over and not even LIDAR can reveal it completely), the old Roman one and the new Roman, still in use today.

(LIDAR map of the area)

The old and new Ljubljanica can both be clearly seen from the air, on our photos taken from a kite:

Kite aerial photos, Canon A810 on a Rokkaku kite and Nikon 1 J1 on a Royal 69 sled kite.

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