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 years, being first converted into apartments and then serving as an experimental facility of the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana.
After a thorough renovation carried out between 1999 and 2006, the castle was a major protocolary site during the 2008 Slovene presidency of the EU. Today it hosts the so-called Center for European Perspective and is listed as a cultural monument. Its greatest asset is a set of frescoes by the baroque painter Franc Jelovšek, including an unusual depiction of a camel-riding Chinese tambourine player.
The castle is open for visitors every other Saturday at 11:00, with appointments available for groups.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.