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The Matajur Mountain
The Matajur, also known as Monte Re and Baba in the local Slovenian dialect, is a mountain of the 1,641 m high Prealpi Giulie.
It is located in the eastern part of Friuli and is the elevation that overlooks the city of Cividale.
The mountain, despite its limited height, is easily identifiable from the Friuli plain due to its characteristic conical shape and is the most representative relief and the symbol of the Valleys of the Natisone.
The period of formation of the mountain is not precisely datable because it is composed, for the most part, of sedimentary material from the periods between the Jurassic and the Upper Cretaceous. Surveys carried out on the slopes of the mountain have led to the identification of traces of gold with zinc, silver and native mercury.
The climb to the mountain, which is covered up to the summit by woods (poplars, chestnut trees, green alders) or meadows, does not present particular difficulty due to the poor slope of the sides. The shortest and easiest way to reach the summit is to start the ascent starting from the Pelizzo shelter, which can be reached by car with a comfortable paved road. As an alternative you can start from the hamlet of Mersino from where mule tracks and paths, which cross woods and meadows where they grow narcissi, crocuses, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, lead, in about an hour and a half and without difficulty, to the destination.
On the top of the mountain stands the church of Christ the Redeemer, built on the rubble of the chapel inaugurated in 1901 to commemorate the nineteen centuries from the Redemption and first hit by a thunderbolt and then destroyed by the war events related to the Caporetto battle.
From the top you can see a magnificent panorama that ranges from the Karst, all'Istria, the lagoon of Grado and the peaks of Canin, Mangart, Tricorno, Monte Nero and the Dolomites.
From the sides of the mountain flow the waters of the springs and torrentelli that thicken the Natisone river and, in the valley of Savogna, the waters of the Alberone torrent and its right tributaries.
In the area of Mount Matajur, and especially in the Savogna valley, there are a considerable number of cavities and caves among which we must remember the chasm of Cerconizza, the Ta Pot Čelan Jama, the Velika Jama, the cave of Mersino Alto, the Sesna Jama of Mersino, the Casera Glav of Masseris and the cave of Jeronizza.
The top of the mountain has been, since ancient times, borderland: first with Austria, then with Yugoslavia and, nowadays, with the Republic of Slovenia.
At the foot of the northern slope of Matajur flows the State Road 54 of Friuli, which is the easiest way of communication between Italy and Slovenia for those who have access to the middle stretch of the Isonzo.
Mount Matajur and its slopes are affected by the Sentieri Italia identified by the CAI trailers number 736 and 725 and by the path number 749.
The toponym Matajur appears in the writings and on the geographical maps only in the XVIII century. The name originates from Mont Major (Monte Maggiore di Cividale) which, over time, has changed to Mot Major, Mat Major, Matajor and, finally, Matajur. The local population also calls it (Velika) Baba, which indicates an isolated rocky peak, or, only from the twentieth century, Kalona with reference to the obelisk erected next to the chapel of Christ the Redeemer and destroyed, as previously indicated, in the course of the First World War.
It is believed that the Matajur was climbed by the Lombard king Alboin when, coming close to Italy, he went up to admire the fertile plains of Friuli that was about to invade.
The Matajur hill, during the First World War, was part of the last Italian line of defense prepared by the 2nd Army for the protection of the Friuli plain in the event of a breakthrough of the fighting units in advanced positions. The mountain went down in history because, in the course of the battle of Caporetto, Lieutenant Rommel, the future field marshal, conquered the top. On October 24, 1917, after a long bombardment, Lieutenant Rommel, head of six German companies, launched a fast offensive, with the tactics of the surprise attack, on the Colovrat and in a short time he conquered the peaks. Then invaded the valley of Savogna and attacked the Matajur, defended by the Salerno Brigade. After 52 hours of exhausting marches and audacious fights, he conquered the summit making almost 9000 prisoners and a huge bootload of war material. The advance of Lieutenant Rommel was one of the most important episodes of the battle of Caporetto because it was decisive for the tragic Italian retreat.
From the Matajur, Rommel proceeded, through Longarone, its fast advance to the Piave river.