The Mach's heritage tutorial trail

Ernst Mach heritage

The family of Ernst Mach

Ernst's father, Johann, was born on the 16th of May 1805 at Liebenau in Moravska of the then Austro-Hungarian monarchy. He was an academically educated teacher and taught the children of aristocrats. Ernst’s mother, Josephine, a lover of the fine arts, was born on the 12th of May 1813 at Chrlice. Johann and Josephine were endowed with four children, a boy (Ernst) and three girls (Maria, Octavia and Wilhelmina). They all become well educated especially Ernst and Maria. Octavia got married to a German and had three children. The youngest daughter Wilhelmina found herself in a convent for breeding a forbidden love toward a young steward of her father’s estate.

Johann with his family emigrated to Veliki Slatnik in 1858 and bought the castle Slatenek. He then established very healthy relations with the locals and introduced a lot of new knowhow in the fields of agriculture, horticulture and also apiculture. He also engaged himself in the breeding of the Asian silkworm known as Jamamaj. However, the economic activities of his estate did not flourish but rather created only losses.

Josephine passed away soon in 1869 and she was followed by him ten years later in 1879. They are both buried at the Veliki Slatnik cemetery.

Their son Ernst Mach, born in 1838 quickly concluded his studies in mathematics in Vienna despite some childhood difficulties in learning. He got his PhD in 1860 and become a professor in physics at the University of Graz. He continued his academic career as professor first in physics in Prag then in philosophy in Vienna. The unit, mach, for expressing the speed of supersonic aircrafts is named after him. He died in 1916 at Haar near Munich. As a student Ernst Mach frequently paid visits to his parents at Veliki Slatnik to help them in farming. He was very fond of the natural beauty of the surroundings.

His sister Maria, a teacher, also lived at Veliki Slatnik for some time. After the death of their parents she unsuccessfully tried to manage the estate and thereby sold it to her uncle Merkel. Merkel then benevolently made a present of it to the county of Šmihel. The condition attached to this present, which was also adhered to, was that the proceeds from its sale be used to build a school for the poor and handicapped female children from Veliki Slatnik and the surroundings of Novo mesto. This building now houses one the primary schools in Novo mesto.

The influence of the Mach family on Veliki Slatnik and its surroundings

Veliki Slatnik is a village in the valley of the Gorjanci mountains in the south-eastern part of Slovenia and is about 6 km from the town of Novo mesto. Its name stems from the nearby small springs of subterranean water. Assessing Veliki Slatnik from Novo mesto is by going east on the main road and turning right after 3 km onto a side road winding through the woods. This side road is somehow accompanied by the rivulet known as Slatenski potok to the village of Križe. Here one is confronted with a marvellous view of Veliki Slatnik. The village is surrounded by fields, meadows and woods. In the middle of this village there once stood a dominating castle whose existence is presently depicted only by the renovated remains of its stall.

In 1858 Johann Mach and his family came from Moravska to live and farm at Veliki Slatnik. Moravska was, just as Kranjska (the home of the Slovenes), a province of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Johann Mach introduced into the Gorjanci valley many new techniques in farming and sericulture. Whenever the renowned scientist (a physicist) Ernst Mach as a student visited his parents during vacations at Veliki Slatnik he engaged himself with his research on the movement of bodies in space, trajectories of canon shells through air and the phenomenal double detonation. He continued with this research at the nautical academy of the Austro-Hungarian state at the town of Rijeka. Here, he together with Salcher photographically recorded the behaviour of shells breaking the sound barrier. So it can here be inferred that the Slatnik valley was gradually transforming into an industrial heritage of the world. At the location of Dvor in the vicinity of Novo mesto the reduction of iron ore was running and after 1822 a relatively vast iron foundry started operating. That was at that time the biggest enterprise of this kind south of the Alps. Modern era ushered in the automobile and pharmaceutical industries probably offering themselves as a perpetuation of the Mach heritage in the Gorjanci valley.              

The Mach's heritage tutorial trail

The tutorial trail of the Mach's heritage that is mostly level, starts from the village of Mali Slatnik 4 km from Novo mesto. The first point of interest is the legendry flourmill of Tičk, now abandoned. The mill was driven by the stream from a 500 meters long channel hand dug from the Slatnik rivulet by the ancestors of Pepi Tičk. Going onward brings us up to the water source of Mrzelček. From here on, the trail runs alongside the Slatnik rivulet through magnificent woods. Walking ahead in tranquillity brings one to the water source Angelski (Angels’); legend has it that Angels drank from this source. Literary, the beauty of the so called Mach’s hill is watched over by a naturally shaped rock sculpture that looks like the face of the chimp and named Kržjačen after the man hired by Johann Mach. The duty of Kržjačen was to use gunfire to scare off birds disturbing Mach’s sericulture of the Asian silkworm Jamamaj on this hill. Not far from here is a deep well called Rakec (Crab) because of the many crabs found in it. Right in its neighbourhood, on the other side of the Slatnik rivulet, the water source Mišja pzdica ushers itself in into the marvellous rivulet. After a while one leaves the woods and countenances a very beautiful view of the villages Križe and Veliki Slatnik. The trail then passes by the water source Jurkovec unto Veliki studenec the biggest of all the trail’s water sources. For many years this source provided drinking water for the villagers. The longer trail option leads one to the rocky vault where the renowned writer Janez Trdina frequently passed the night when enroot for inspiration. To render homage to Ernst Mach’s parents one must visit the cemetery in the middle of Veliki Slatnik where their tomb lies. From here the trail turns towards Novo mesto and leads one to the location where Mach’s castle stood many years in the past; its historic existence is presently depicted only by the renovated remains of its stall. Continuing onward brings one to the legendry cursed nut-tree under which many strange things presumably happened. Janez Trdina writes about the forbidden love between Johann Mach’s younger daughter, Wilhelmina, and a stout steward of their holdings. From here on the trail runs through the woods again passing by the Škrat ‘drug store’ and the Škrat ‘ear’. Enjoying the beauty of the woods one unaware finds oneself out and facing the marvellous views of the Potov Vrh village and her surroundings. After a very pleasant walk over pathways through the woods one comes to the Palčkov castle that marks the end of the trail at Mali Slatnik. The trail has three options of different lengths for individual or group choices.  

Tutorial trail map


Društvo Machova dediščina pod Gorjanci je bilo ustanovljeno leta 2015 z namenom oživitve pomembne zgodbe iz preteklosti našega kraja, na katero smo zelo ponosni. To je zgodba o vizionarski družini Mach in njeni zapuščini.

© 2019 Društvo Machova dediščina pod Gorjanci. Vse pravice pridržane. Izvedba ideART