Zlatorog, the mythical golden-horned chamois

by David Robertson ~ 08-Oct-2009 ~ updated 23-Oct-2009

A tale of Zlatorog, the mythical golden-horned chamois.



We have read many versions of this tale but it goes something like this –

Zlatorog’s realm was high on Triglav and his golden horns were the key to a great treasure to be found high on the mountain.

In the valley far below, a young hunter fell in love with and courted a beautiful maiden, winning her heart by bringing her flowers. One day a wealthy merchant came by who gained her affections by giving her golden jewelry and dancing with her. The merchant said that if the young hunter loved her so much he should bring the treasure of Zlatorog to her.

Triglav Lakes Valley, Julian Alps

Triglav Lakes Valley, Julian Alps

Angrily, the young hunter set off and climbed up into the wintery mountains to find the golden-horned Chamois. At length he found his prey aimed and shot. Mortally wounded, Zlatorog edged out onto a rocky ledge leaving a trail of blood behind him which melted the snow and there sprang beautiful red flowers, the Triglav Rose. The young hunter followed Zlatorog out on to the ledge but as he did so the Chamois ate some of the flowers and he was instantly healed. Furious, he charged at the hunter who, blinded by the light from Zlatorog’s golden horns, stumbled and fell from the ledge to his death. Eventually, the River Soča carried his body into the valley. In his hands he held a bunch of Triglav roses.

Zlatorog by Jasna Lake

Zlatorog by Jasna Lake

In his fury, Zlatorog gored his way down from the mountain, tearing up the ground and leaving gaping holes that later filled up with water to form the Triglav Lakes valley (sometimes referred to as the “Seven Lakes Valley”). Zlatorog left the mountain, never to return and his treasure remains hidden somewhere under Triglav.

Today, you cannot go far without seeing Zlatorog. We know of two statues, one beside Lake Bohinj at Ribčev Laz and the other beside Jasna Lake at the foot of the Vršič Pass, just to south of Kranjska Gora. Hotels bear his name, there are painting and murals, plus the nations favourite beer (well, its our favourite at least!), brewed by Laško, is named after him.

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