Medieval castles 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

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

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

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

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

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

Sevnica Castle

Sevnica Castle it dominates the old town of Sevnica and offers views of the surrounding countryside. The Archdiocese of Salzburg held local estates since 1043 and Sevnica Castle was mentioned for the first time in 1309. The origin of the building was not documented but it was most probably built during the bishopric of Konrad the First von Abensberg (1106–1147), who rebuilt and colonized this area devastated by Hun ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sevnica, Slovenia

Crni Kal Castle

The castle of Črni Kal was noted in the 11th century. Apart from being a resting place for traders and travellers, it was also the place of the conflict between the Habsburgs and the Venetians for the dominance of Koper. The ruins of a castle overlooking Črni Kal, called Town or Old Town by domicile inhabitants, stand on a cliff some 30 meters high that once could be reached only by a four-meter-long drawbridge. Situat ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Črni Kal, Slovenia

The Court of Princes

The 'lower castle' served as a residence for the Counts and later The Princes of Celje during the 14th and 15th century. It was separated from the town settlement by battlements and a defence ditch. After the extinction of The princes of Celje in the 15th century, the court was used as an office of the Habsburg caretakers and was transformed into a barracks in the 18th century. The building we know today has und ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Celje, Slovenia

Tolmin Castle Ruins

Tolmin Castle was first mentioned in 1188, and its chapel of Saint Martin in 1194. The east and north towers appear to have formed the original core of the fortress; another two hexagonal towers were added later. The north tower had an extensive basement for the storage of provisions, which along with two wells and rainwater cisterns allowed for the withstanding of sieges. The castle was held in fief by a long series of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tolmin, Slovenia

Murska Sobota Castle

Murska Sobota Castle was first indirectly mentioned in 1255. Its existence was confirmed in 1478, when a castellum in Belmwra was mentioned, and in 1498, when it was named as castellum Mwrayzombath. The Bel Mura castle was the administrative centre of the whole Belmur territory. It was situated at the crossing of traffic and merchant trails. During its long history the castle has been owned by many families, including th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Murska Sobota, Slovenia

Grad Castle

Grad means 'castle' in Slovene and refers to the castle dating from the late 12th century strategically situated on a hill overlooking the settlement. It is one of the largest castle complexes in Slovenia, with 365 rooms. After World War II, the castle was divided into small residential apartments. With Slovenia joining the European Union, funds have been made available for the restoration of the castle. Certain parts of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Grad, Slovenia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.