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 the Croatia-Slavonia march.
Over the centuries that followed the castle underwent architectural and ownership changes, passing from one noble family to another.
Medieval structure of the castle has changed in time, yet some of the architectural details were preserved and cannot be missed out on. One of the most important ones is the Renaissance portal dating back to the 16th century decorated with two marble medallions bearing maiden profiles.
At the beginning of World War II the castle was seized by the Italians and used as a fortress. In 1942, it was burnt by the Partisans and only ruins remained of the two bridges. Castle’s restoration began in 1952 with the restoration of the roof and lasted for six years, also with the help of international work brigades. In 1959, the first restaurant was opened in the restored castle. Over the next few decades the castle changed its appearance until it was restored to its original Gothic and Renaissance splendour as it houses one of the most outstanding hotels in Slovenia.
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.