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 was administe ...
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

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.