Betnava estate was first mentioned in 1319, under the name Wintenaw. By the 16th century, it had grown into a fortified and moated renaissance manor.
It passed through the hands of numerous owners, including the noble families of Herberstein, Khiessl, Auersperg, Ursini-Rosenberg, Szekely, Brandis in von der Dur. During their tenure, the counts Herberstein transformed it into a Protestant way-station, complete with chapel and cemetery. In 1863, Betnava became the summer residence of the bishops of Maribor and Lavant, having already been leased by the see for several decades.
In 1784, the mansion was rebuilt in late-baroque Florentine style, after the fashion of Vienna at the time. The west wing contains a chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross, while other notable features include a carved staircase leading to the main hall, itself decorated with late-baroque trompe l'oeil ceiling frescoes painted by an unknown artist c. 1780.
The main facade faces a 19th-century English country park.
The mansion's current owner is the archbishpric of Maribor, which was in 2011 cited by the Agency for the Protection of Cultural Heritage for failure to properly maintain the site and safeguard structures uncovered in an archeological dig.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.