Castles and fortifications in Slovenia

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle stands above the downtown of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Originally a Medieval fortress, probably built in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 12th century, it acquired its present outline with an almost complete overhaul in the 15th century, whereas the majority of the buildings date to the 16th and 17th centuries. At first a defense structure and since the first half of the 14th century the seat ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Bled Castle

Bled Castle is built on a precipice above the city of Bled in Slovenia, overlooking Lake Bled. According to written sources, it is the oldest Slovenian castle and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia. The history of the castle reaches back to 1004 when the German Emperor Henry II gave his estate at Bled to Bishop Albuin of Brixen. At that time, only a Romanesque tower protected by walls st ...
Founded: c. 1011 | Location: Bled, Slovenia

Predjama Castle

Predjama Castle is a Renaissance castle built within a cave mouth in the historical region of Inner Carniola. The castle was first mentioned in the year 1274 with the German name Luegg, when the Patriarch of Aquileia built the castle in Gothic style. The castle was built under a natural rocky arch high in the stone wall to make access to it difficult. It was later acquired and expanded by the Luegg noble family, also know ...
Founded: 1274 | Location: Predjama, Slovenia

Loka Castle

In the 12th century on the hills above Škofja Loka stood three fortifications: the Upper Tower on Krancelj, the Lower Fort and the Loka Castle, a residence of Freising Bishops, built at the brink of a natural terrace. The castle is first mentioned in 1202 as castrum firmissimum, although today"s building dates from the 16th century. The castle was rebuilt in 1691 after an earthquake and in 1716. The castle wa ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Skofja Loka, Slovenia

Maribor Castle

Maribor castle, which boasts several constructional and style periods, was built by Emperor Friderik III between the years 1478 and 1483 for the purpose of fortifying the north eastern part of the town wall. The castle was in the course of time changed into a rich feudal residence. The main room in the castle is the Festive Hall. The hall has rich interior furnishings with pictures of the artistic Quadri family and Laure ...
Founded: 1478-1483 | Location: Maribor, Slovenia

Water Tower

The Maribor Water Tower is a late-Renaissance tower dating from 1555. It is of pentagonal form and consists of massive stone blocks interspersed with embrasures. It was built to secure the southeast part of the Maribor city walls from the direction of the river. At present, the Water Tower houses a wine shop which specializes in top-quality Slovenian wines. It is Slovenia"s oldest wine cellar, and is situated in wha ...
Founded: 1555 | Location: Maribor, Slovenia

Celje Castle

Celje Castle was once the largest fortification on Slovenian territory. The first fortified building on the site (a Romanesque palace) was built in the first half of the 13th century by the Counts of Heunburg from Carinthia on the stony outcrop on the western side of the ridge where the castle stands. It had five sides, or four plus the southern side, which was a natural defence. The first written records of the castle da ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Celje, Slovenia

Ptuj Castle

The mighty Ptuj Castle was built in the mid-12th century, when it was constructed to defend against the Hungarians. The oldest written record about the castle is by the chronicler of the Salzburg archbishop Konrad I, who occupied this position from 1106 to 1147. The old chronicler wrote that Konrad I had the castle rebuilt on the site of the old demolished one. That means that even before the 12th century, there was a con ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Ptuj, Slovenia

Piran Town Walls

Significant parts of the city walls of Piran remain well-preserved. Piran"s three walls were built in response to the city"s expansion. The first wall was built in the 7th century, separating the town into four streets. The first wall can be seen in the old part of the town. The wall was moved south-west when new streets were built. The fortification wall, which was built along the southern coast of the town, ha ...
Founded: 1470-1538 | Location: Piran, Slovenia

Olimje Castle

Olimje Castle is a 16th-century castle and currently a Franciscan monastery. The predecessor of the current castle occupied the site since c. 1000, and first belonged to the counts von Peilestein, including Hemma of Gurk, an 11th-century saint and member of the family. Around 1550, a Count Tattenbach rebuilt the castle in renaissance style, at the same time adding a defensive ditch to guard against Turkish incursions. I ...
Founded: 1550 | Location: Olimje, Slovenia

Socerb Castle

Due to its excellent strategic location, Socerb Castle was already an important stronghold in Illyrian times, while in the Middle Ages, it became a mighty and well-fortified castle controlling the Trieste hinterlands and the commercial routes between Carniola and the coast. The castle has an exceptionally rich and turbulent history that can be traced from the Early Middle Ages to 1780 when it was struck by lightning, rend ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Socerb, Slovenia

Kieselstein Castle

Kieselstein Castle is a 13th-century castle in the city of Kranj. The castle stands at what was once a defensible point, guarding the city pier and crossing over the river Sava, and was predated on the site by a round 11th-century keep. The current structure was built in 1256 by the counts of Ortenburg, by an arrangement with the lord of Kranj, duke Ulrik III Spanheim. Until 1420, the tower was managed by their ministeria ...
Founded: 1256 | Location: Kranj, Slovenia

Judgement Tower

The Judgement Tower is a fortified medieval tower in Maribor. An original tower built on the site in the early 14th century secured the southwestern corner of the city walls. It was completely rebuilt in 1540, with the addition of a conical roof which burned down in the 17th century. The tower has seen several additions; the renaissance structure extends to the tops of the second-floor windows, and is followed an early 1 ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Maribor, Slovenia

Zuzemberk Castle

One of the most picturesque castles in Slovenia, Žužemberk Castle originated in the 13th century but acquired its present shape during the 16th century when its defences were reinforced with seven huge round towers. From 1538 until World War II, it was owned by the Auersperg family of Turjak. The castle was badly damaged during World War II and restoration work has been ongoing ever since. Every Summer the castl ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Zuzemberk, Slovenia

Bistra Castle

Bistra Carthusian Monastery was founded in 1255 as the first monastery in Carniola. The first half of the 14th century represents the culmination of the monastery. This is when the monastery greatly expanded and invested in the functioning of the monastic library, where they created a number of copies and original works. Later began the slow decay of the monastery which was repeatedly hit by fires and in 1670 by a strong ...
Founded: 1255 | Location: Bistra, Slovenia

Otocec Castle

Otočec Castle is a castle hotel on a small island in the middle of the Krka River. It is the only water castle in Slovenia and one of the most picturesque images in the country and is a prominent cultural and natural monument. The castle was first mentioned in documents in the 13th century, although the walls are said to date to the more precise date of 1252. It was once owned by Ivan Lenković, the chief commander of t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Otočec, Slovenia

Little Castle

Little Castle (Mali grad) in Kamnik was constructed in the 11th or early 12th century at the strategic site above the narrow passage near an important trail. The Romanesque chapel of St. Eligius is one of the most important Slovene medieval monuments, despite later alterations, and is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. The chapel features a wooden ceiling and exquisite fresco paintings. Archaeological evidence indi ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Kamnik, Slovenia

Brdo Castle

Brdo Castle near Kranj is the Slovenian Government's main venue for diplomatic meetings and other Government-sponsored events. The present mansion was built in 1510 by Carniolan nobleman Georg (Jurij) Egkh, general administrator of Habsburg private estates in the Duchy of Carniola. It was initially built in the Renaissance style, but has been frequently renovated since. In the 18th century, it was bought by Michelangelo Z ...
Founded: 1510 | Location: Kranj, Slovenia

Sneznik Castle

Snežnik Castle construction time is unclear; its existence is first implied in 1269, by way of mention of its owner Meinhard von Schneberg. The castle itself was first mentioned in 1461, at the time it was a possession of the Patriarchate of Aquileia, with the Schnebergs as their ministeriales. In 1393, a quarter-share of it and several neighboring farms was purchased by William II von Lamberg, a relative of the Schneber ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kozarišče, Slovenia

Brezice Castle

Brežice Castle is an excellent example of a renaissance flatland fortification, and retains its trapezoidal 16th-century layout. Records suggest construction took place in three phases: between 1530 and 1550, the basic fortress took shape, with four corner towers connected by walls; between 1567 and 1579, when the east and west tracts were added; and finally, between 1586 and 1590 or 1601, the northern tract and arcaded ...
Founded: 1530-1601 | Location: Brežice, Slovenia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.