Slovenia has more than 6,000 towns and villages, many of them named after animals or plants, like Mačji Dol or Kostanj, translating to Cat Vale and Chestnut. Some 4,800 places have unique names, while other names are quite common, such as Šolska Ulica (School Street), the Statistics Office has said, adding that Slovenia has both Eden and Hell.
The latter refers to the villages of Paradiž, located in the remote and placid hills of Haloze in the east, and Pekel, a hilly village just north of Maribor, strewn with vineyards and nearly encircled by two Maribor motorways.
While most names occur only once, some are very common. Šolska Ulica, for example is the most common of 10,000 street names, as 52 towns have their own School Street. Prešernova Ulica, named after the Romantic poet France Prešeren, the author of the national anthem, is the second most common street name, used 45 times.
Many names reflect a connection with the animal world: Konj (Horse), Ježevec (Porcupine), Lisjaki (Foxes), Srnjak (Stag), Petelinje (Rooster’s), Zajčji Vrh (Hare Peak), Žabja Vas (Frog Village), Medvedjek (Bear’s), Jelendol (Deer Dale) and Kačji Dol (Snake Vale), among many others.
Interestingly, there is no Mačja Ulica (Cat Street) in Mačji Dol (Cat Vale), the Statistics Office said.
Many place names suggest a relation with plants, including Breza (Birch), Jablana (Apple Tree) and Šipek (Rosehip).
But not all have necessarily been named after plants or fruits. According to the Etymology Dictionary of Slovenian Geographical Names, Borovnica (Blueberry) and Maline (Raspberries) were not named after the respective berries, the Statistics Office says.
Many places carry personal names, often those of saints, including Lucija, Florjan, Marjeta, Štefan, Primož and Benedikt.
Others, especially villages, have names that are unusual even to Slovenians, either because they are tongue twisters such as Kokolajnščak, Bolehnečici or Podpulfrca, or because of unusual semantics, such is the case with Bruhanja Vas (Vomit Village) and Ritoznoj (Butt Sweat).