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.
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.