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Karst dry-stone walls and shepherds’ corbelled huts

The stone and skill of dry-stone wall building make the cultural landscape of the Karst truly distinctive.

The Karst is stony. Man first had to remove all the stones from almost every inch of the agricultural land and pastures. Yet this stone, so rough and diverse, has long been an important building material in the Karst. Over the millennia, the Karst locals perfected their building skills without the use of any binding material. By gathering the available local stones, removed from the plots of arable land, and with good knowledge of stone-stacking techniques, people would create different types of solid-stone buildings.

The mastery of dry-stone walling was included on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018.

Shepherds’ corbelled huts and typical dry-stone walls

When one first visits the Karst, one initially notices the multitude of dry-stone walls separating the fields, meadows and pastures and, many times, also edging the forest paths. These proportionately structured and very solid walls create unique patterns in nature and are a wonderful peculiarity of the Karst cultural landscape. The walls built using the dry-stone walling technique perhaps give the impression of something natural, until a visitor comes across a shepherd’s corbelled hut. These huts are true architectural masterpieces, made of stone without using any binding or other materials. Nevertheless, these huts have solid walls and roofs, and in the past offered shelter to shepherds, farmers and stone-cutters. Most of these huts were built on the pastures, which is why they are now named shepherds’ corbelled huts. Similar dry-stone wall huts were also made in other areas in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean, as nature provided plenty of stone. Today, about 400 dry-stone huts are preserved in the classic Karst, most being built in the second half of the 9th and first half of the 20th centuries.

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