Medieval castles in Slovenia

Bostanj Castle Ruins

Boštanj (Weissenstein in German) castle was probably built in the late 1400s to the site of ancient fort. In 1558 it was expanded and surrounded with walls and towers. In 1678 the castle was bought by the family Ursini-Blagaj, who owned the castle until the 20th century. In 1944 the castle was burned down by Slovenian partisans.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Veliko Mlačevo, Slovenia

Hmeljnik Castle

The Hmeljnik Castle is situated on a stone slope above the village of Karteljevo close to Novo mesto, dominating the views from the valley and from the road Ljubljana - Bregana. The castle was first mentioned in 1217. Its original masters are not known - they were probably the Lords of Višnja gora, possibly also the Lords of Hopfenbach or Hmeljnik whose family line was terminated in the 14th century. The castle has ...
Founded: 1217 | Location: Novo mesto, Slovenia

Komenda Castle

Komenda castle was mentioned already in 1149. It was owned by the Sovereign Order of Malta from 1323 to 1780. The castle represents historical construction features and style elements and is an important cultural and historic monument. A special relic of the castle is its antique lion made of Pohorje marble, which stands on the staircase railing just by the entrance gate. Above the stairs, a bronze plaque with the portra ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Polzela, Slovenia

Smlednik Castle Ruins

Smlednik Castle was presumably built in the 12th century on the foundations of a prehistoric fort and a Roman stronghold of a later origin. The strategic location of the hill overlooking a crossing of the Sava River was appreciated by the first lords of the region, the Counts of Weimar Orlamunde, who built a defence tower on the hilltop in the 11th century. The tower was then expanded in several phases, but remained unalt ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Smlednik, Slovenia

Zaprice Castle

Zaprice Castle, first indirectly mentioned in 1306, was originally built in the 14th century by the Dienger von Apecz family. It was rebuilt in the early 16th century by Jurij Lamberg, who gave it corner oriel windows and surrounded it with a wall with two towers, and gave it a German name: Steinbüchel. The castle is subsequently remembered as a meeting place for Kamnik"s Lutherans. During the 17th and 18th cent ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kamnik, Slovenia

Lendava Castle

Lendava castle is first mentioned in the records in 1192 as a property of the Hungarian noble family Bánffy and was theirs until the middle of the 17th century, when it fell to the Nádasdy family for a short period, and in the 18th century came under the management of the Eszterházy family. Today it is a massive two-storey building with a mansard roof overlooking the town of Lendava-Lendva. The walls ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lendava, Slovenia

Podsreda Castle

Podsreda Castle dates to around 1150 and is probably the best-preserved example of secular Romanesque architecture in Slovenia. It features a typical 12th-century defensive tower (keep), a Romanesque chapel, and two wings from about the same period. The orderly, rectangular plan is also typical of the late Romanesque period. Over the years the castle has seen many owners. Though neglected after the Second World War, the ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Podsreda, Slovenia

Gracar Turn Castle

The Gracar Turn ('Grätzer"s Tower') is not recorded in medieval sources, though the historian Valvasor mentions a manor stood on the site in the 14th century, built by the Grätzer family from nearby Gradac, whence its name derives. After passing through numerous hands, it was purchased by Anton Rudež in 1821. The author Janez Trdina was often Rudež"s guest at Gracar Turn; several of the for ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Hrastje, Slovenia

Mirna Castle

Mirna Castle was built in the 12th-century castle and destroyed by the Partisans in December 1942. The restoration stated in 1962. The castle and its surroundings that extend along the plain to the town of Mirna offer an amazing backdrop to one of the most beautiful views in the Mirna Valley and emphasize a heritage of the esthetic principles of medieval architecture. The castle changed owners frequently, but all the Mirn ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Mirna, Slovenia

Hrastovec Castle

The castle in Hrastovec is one of the most impressive castles in Slovenia, not only because of its imposing position, but also because of its excellent formation. It is a huge complex with an inner yard and composed of older parts with three Renaissance two-storeyed wings and three towers to the south, and, to the north, of several wings of later construction with unevenly levelled roofs. The building gradually gained in ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hrastovec, Slovenia

Hompos Castle

Hompoš castle was mentioned in 1323. It changed hands several times before during centuries before been nationalized after the World War II. Today it is completely modernized with adjacent Pohorski palace.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Pivola, Slovenia

Ribnica Castle

Largely burned during World War II and later mostly demolished, Ribnica Castle beside the Bistrica River belonged in the group of early castles built mainly in the second half of the 12th century. It included a two- or three-story residence and an interior courtyard with a cistern protected by a wall. In the Middle Ages, the basic interior circumference was strengthened, and at the end of the 15th century and in the 16th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ribnica, Slovenia

Jablje Castle

The original castle at Jablje was first mentioned in 1268, while the current structure was built by the noble house of Lamberg around 1530. The castle subsequently passed through the hands of the Rasp family, the barons Mosconi, and was from 1780 until the end of World War II owned by the barons Lichtenberg. Though it survived the war largely intact, the castle was nationalized and thoroughly looted during the following y ...
Founded: 1530 | Location: Loka pri Mengšu, Slovenia

Kacenstajn Castle

Kacenštajn Castle was first mentioned in historical documents in 1428. The noble house of Katzen (locally known as Kacijanarji) rebuilt it in the 16th century, but it took its final shape a century later, when the Counts of Lamberg moved to it from Kamen Castle. The original two-story core of the castle survives inside newer additions, as do remnants of its Gothic architecture. The majority of the present structur ...
Founded: 1428 | Location: Begunje, Slovenia

Vrbovec Castle

Vrbovec castle, which stands at the confluence of the Dreta and Savinja at Nazarje, is regarded as the most important monument of secular medieval architecture in the Upper Savinja Valley. In German it was called Altenburg, while its Slovenian name Vrbovec is associated with the willows (vrba = willow) that once grew along the banks of the two rivers. The original castle, built in the 12th century, stood on a rocky outcro ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nazarje, Slovenia

Vipava Castle Ruins

Vipava Castle was built by the Patriarchate of Aquileia and first recorded in 1275 as Castrum Wipaci superioris. It was the residence of the knights of Vipava until the mid-14th century, when it became a ducal fief, granted to a long series of noble and knightly families, including the knights of Rihemberk, lords of Snežnik and Belopeš, Counts of Celje, barons Herberstein, Counts Thurn, the noble family of Edling, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vipava, Slovenia

Trebnje Castle

Trebnje Castle dates from year the 13th century and was first mentioned in written sources in 1386. The original owners were the lords of Trebnje from Carinthia, while it was later run by the Ortenbuger, the Counts of Celje, the Hapsburgs and others, and was from 1812 to 1824 owned even by the local missionary Frederic Irenaeus Baraga. The castle retained many ancient sections – a square tower with Roman foundation ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Trebnje, Slovenia

Turjak Castle

Turjak Castle is a 13th-century fairly well known castle in Slovenia and one of the most impressive in the area. The first Turjak castle was built on the site as early as the late 11th century by the knights (later counts) von Auersperg. It may have been extant by 1062, the date the family (specifically Konrad von Auersperg) is first mentioned. In 1140, it was destroyed and burned during a succession struggle between the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Turjak, Slovenia

Raka Castle

Raka Castle is one of the oldest medieval castles in Slovenia. It was documented in 1161 and explicitly mentioned as Castrum Arch in 1279. Built in the second half of the 12th century by the Counts of Bogen, it was inherited by the Counts of Andechs and then passed into the possession of the Dukes of Spanheim. The castle was sold by a relative of the Archer knights to Baron Georg von Scheyer. The Archer knights oversaw R ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Raka, Slovenia

Cmurek Castle

Cmurek Castle is an originally 12th-century castle built on a hill above the Mura River in the northern part of the settlement. It was extended and rebuilt at various times in the 16th, 17th, and late 18th centuries. It is a three-story building with an internal arcaded courtyard. The castle was mentioned in documents already in 1148 when it was owned by the Cmurek nobles. Later on, the castle was purchased by the Counts ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trate, 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.