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The Ultimate Guide to Castles in Slovenia

The Ultimate Guide to Castles in Slovenia

snežnik castle

Castles in Slovenia are not on everyone’s radar, especially if they are not named Bled Castle, Predjama Castle, or Ljubljana Castle. In fact, there are over 500 castles across this tiny country. This guide will break down castles by region to help you with planning your Slovenian itinerary.

Castles in Slovenia

There is no such thing as a Slovenian king in all of history, but yet there are hundreds of castles in this small country. This is primarily due to Habsburg (Austrian) presence in Slovenia from mid 14th century until 1918.

There are medieval Slovenian castles, Renaissance, Baroque, some of them in ruins while others are now museums or beautiful hotels in which you can stay overnight. Many of the older castles were built on top of hills or cliffs to help with defense while you will see more modern ones appear like mansions built in the lower parts of town.

You might notice there are a lot of different ways to split Slovenia depending on the source. I tend to use the traditional boundaries as this is what is always used among Slovenes (at least from my experiences).

The image below is my rough sketch of the regions (thanks to Photoshop). Below you will find sections for each region with castles you can find in each. Some castles are featured in other articles, while others are still being written.

Jump ahead to:

Ljubljana
Notranjska
Gorenjska
Primorska
Dolenjska
Štajerska
Prekmurje
Koroška


Castles in or near Ljubljana

Ljubljana Castle

ljubljana castle

Ljubljana Castle was originally a fortress in the 11th and 12th century, and once served as a royal residence and military barrack, but now houses a museum, cafe, and two restaurants. The castle towers over Ljubljana which also makes it the perfect viewpoint over the city. It can be reached by a small hike up the hill or a funicular and is free to wander the grounds but admissions fees are needed for the viewing tower, exhibits, and chapel.

Read the Wandering Ljubljana Guide for more specifics about visiting Ljubljana and the castle.

Visiting information is available via their website.

Turjak Castle

turjak castle slovenia

Turjak Castle is a 13th-century castle just a half-hour away from Ljubljana. This castle is no longer being maintained and you cannot go inside. You can walk around the castle grounds. Granted there isn’t a whole lot to do here but I really enjoyed my time exploring the grounds. I especially highly recommend the restaurant mentioned in this article for lunch with a castle view!

READ
3 Castles You Can Easily Drive to from Ljubljana

Fužine Castle

slovenian castle fuzine
Ljuba brank at Slovenian Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Fužine Castle, built in the 16th century,  houses the Museum of Architecture and Design. It is named after the neighborhood, Fužine, and it is the only remaining Renaissance castle in Ljubljana. It is done in an Italian style and once had a moat. During the last Saturday of every month, they have English guided tours.

Visiting information can be found via their website.

Jablje Castle

Sl-Ziga [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
An interesting blend of Renaissance, Baroque, and Late Gothic, Jablje Castle, first erected in 1530, has various layers to it that depict its use throughout history. There you can find some original Baroque frescos and stuccoes. The castle currently houses the Center for European Perspective and accepts bookings for events and weddings.

Visiting information can be found via their website.

Bistra Castle

By JacquesverlaekenOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Bistra Castle was originally a Carthusian monastery founded in 1255. It experienced a period of prosperity publishing books and subsequently began expansions. The castle was nationalized and reopened in 1951 as the Techincal Museum of Slovenia. A highlight of this museum a collection of Tito’s limousines.

Visit the official museum website for more info.

Castles in Notranjska

Predjama Castle

Slovenian Castle

Possibly the most famous castle in Slovenia is Predjama Castle. The name means before (pred) and cave (jama) as this is quite literally a cave castle. First mentioned in 1274, it is now a museum that can be done via an audio guide (which I recommend). Inside you can walk around the rooms and even see sections of the castle that blend into the cave. There is a fun legend about this castle, but I won’t spoil it so you can enjoy the magic while visiting.

For more information check out the official site.

Snežnik Castle

snežnik castle castle of slovenia

Snežnik Castle is one of my personal favorites in Slovenia. It is about an hour and a half drive from Ljubljana. First built in the 13th century and was guarded during WWII so most of it is intact. There are guided tours top of every hour so plan accordingly. Another point of interest nearby is the disappearing Cerknica Lake for full fairytale vibes.

 

Kalec Castle

Grad Kalec castles in slovenia
Sl-Ziga [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Only the tower and wall remain for Kalec Castle (also known as Kalc), but I had to include it on the list because I think it is really pretty and some castle enthusiasts (like myself) still enjoy a castle even if it is in ruins. It was built in 1620 by a nobleman and passed hands among several notable people in Slovene history. The name Kalc comes from kal which is a karst pond due to the intermittent lakes and ponds in the area.

For more information about visiting this castle use this website.

Prem Castle

Prem Castle
Sl-Ziga [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One of the older castles in Slovenia, Prem Castle was first mentioned in 1213, but the building dates back to the 12th century. The history of the castle, similar to many others, is that it passed owners of various rich important people and was used as one of their many homes. Today the castle hosts a museum about the castle and surrounding area and still has decorated interiors from the last owner.

The official website can be found here. For information in English use this site.

Castles in Gorenjska

Bled Castle

Possibly one of the most famous places in Slovenia is Lake Bled. Perched on top of a 130-meter cliff next to the lake is Slovenia’s oldest castle, Bled Castle. It was first mentioned in a deed in 1011! Unfortunately, an earthquake damaged the castle greatly in 1511 and it was rebuilt in the late 17th-century to its current form. Inside the castle is the Museum of Bled Castle which explores the history of the region since the earliest settlements to the present day.

For information about visiting read more on their website.

READ
Ljubljana to Lake Bled Day Trip

Loka Castle

skofja loka castle

Loka Castle is located in Škofja Loka, a medieval town just a 30-minute drive from Ljubljana. First mentioned in text in the early 1200s but it was rebuilt a few times due to earthquakes. Currently, the castle hosts the Loka Museum which explores the history of Škofja Loka and the castle. In my opinion, it is one of the better museums you will find inside a Slovenian castle and worth a visit for a day trip from Ljubljana.

READ
Visiting Škofja Loka Castle in Slovenia

Strmol Castle

strmol castle slovenia
By Mihael GrmekOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

First mentioned in the 13th-century, Strmol Castle is one of the oldest and best-preserved in Slovenia. It also has kept its original Slovene name throughout history. Currently, the castle is a hotel and hosts events, but you can arrange for a guided tour of the grounds to learn about its history.

You can book through their website.

Zaprice Castle

zaprice castle slovenia
By Vojko Kalanlink, CC0, Link

A 14th-century castle that was rebuilt several times now hosts the Kamnik Intermunicipal Museum. The permanent exhibits share the local history of Kamnik and also a collection about Velika Planina, one of the last remaining traditional alpine pastures.

Info about visiting can be found at their website.

Khislstein Castle

Khislstein Castle in Slovenia
By Mihael GrmekOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Khislstein Castle (or Kieselstein Castle) is a 13th-century castle located in Kranj. It was built for defense and was used as so during various points in history as it passed ownership. During the Ottoman invasions, the tower was used as part of the city walls. Today, Khislstein Castle is part of the Gorenskja Museum. The exhibit is called Beautiful Gorensjka and explores the local history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

More information about visiting can be found on their website.

Kacenštajn Castle

Kacenštajn Castle
By own work – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

First mentioned in 1428, Kacenštajn Castle has seen different forms and purposes. Additions were added in the 16th and 19th centuries. Before WWII the castle was used as a women’s prison. During the war, it became a Gestapo prison and there is now a mass grave of prisoners that were killed there.

Castles in Primorska

Dobrovo Castle

Dobrovo Castle in Goriska Brda

Overlooking Goriška Brda, Dobrovo Castle was built around 1600. It was designed to look like a Venetian villa of that time. The castle is home to a restaurant on the ground floor, wine cellar below with local products, and a museum. The exhibitions consist of local culture-history, a chapel with Gothic frescoes, and a Zoran Mušič collection.

Information about visiting can be found here.

Read more about this region in my Goriška Brda Guide.

Kromberk Castle

kromberk castle
Biegi79 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Kromberk Castle was built in the early 17th century but was designed to imitate a 13th-century fortress. It has since been destroyed in both WWI and WWII and had extensive reconstruction in the 1950s. Sharing responsibility with Dobrovo Castle, it also houses the Goriška Museum. Here you will find an art-history exhibit of Primorska as well as a culture-history exhibit.

Information about visiting Kromberk Castle can be found here.

Branik Castle (Rihemberk Castle)

branik castle
Doremo [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Branik Castle is also commonly known as Rihemberk Castle and is situated in the Vipava Valley. It is one of the largest and oldest castles in Primorska. First mentioned in 1230, Branik Castle was clearly built for defense purposes. Due to it falling in disrepair since WWII there are ongoing renovations and plans to reopen this once glorious castle. You can walk around the castle grounds but you cannot go inside at the moment.

Castle is open on weekends and holidays. Weekdays available for group tours by appointment. More info found on their website.

Castles in Dolenjska

Otočec Castle

Otočec Castle - castles in slovenia

Otočec Castle sits on an island in the middle of the Krka River. The castle was first mentioned in the 13th century and the walls date back to 1252. Today the castle is a luxury hotel and restaurant.

Their official website can be found here.

READ
11 Unique Things You Can Do In Dolenjska

Ribnica Castle

Ribnica Castle was built around 1080 making it one of the oldest alongside Bled Castle. Today it is used for cultural events and housing the Museum of Ribnica. The two main exhibits being Woodenware and Pottery and Bloody Fight Against Witchcraft. Ribnica has a long history of working with wood and clay which can be experienced in this castle.

Visiting information can be found via their website.

Brežice Castle

Slovenian Castle Brežica

Brežice Castle is from the 16th century and has quite a dark history. It was the site of a standoff between the Habsburgs and Hungarian King in the 1400s, burned by locals in the 1500s, redecorated and passing hands of the wealthy during the 1600s and finally nationalized in 1945. Today it houses the Posavje Museum which explores local history.

Visiting information can be found on their website.

READ
A Weekend of Slovenian Castles

Mokrice Castle

Mokrice Castle

First mentioned in 1444, today Mokrice Castle is a hotel, restaurant, and golf course. It is surrounded by a 200-year-old English park and is a stone’s throw from the Croatian border. Legend says that during Turkish invasions of this region, a crow was shot down and landed in the courtyard. The locals took it as a sign of danger and the crow can now be found on the coat of arms.

Booking information can be found here.

Sevnica Castle

dolenjska slovenia sevnica castle

Sevnica Castle is thought to have been built in the first half of the 12th century but was first mentioned in documents in 1309. Perched on top of a hill overlooking Sevnica and the Sava River. Today the castle hosts a museum, gallery collection, festivals, a chapel, and of course, vineyard.

Information about visiting can be found here.

READ
11 Unique Things You Can Do In Dolenjska

Podsreda Castle

By dominkodGrad Podsreda, CC BY 3.0, Link

Built during the first half of the 12th century, Podsreda Castle was originally called Hörberg Castle. It was first mentioned in 1213! Today the castle houses several exhibitions; France Slana paintings, glassworks, local historical artworks, and a history of the castle. 

Read more about Podsreda Castle here.

Brestanica Castle (Rajhenburg Castle)

Brestanica Castle, or also known as Rajhenburg Castle, sits along the Sava River. There was first a structure here dating back to the 9th century but has since been destroyed. The current castle was built in the 16th century. The most fascinating fact about this castle is it was home to the only Trappist Monastery in Slovenia. They produced chocolate and liquor. In the castle today is a museum where you can learn more about the Trappists, local history, vintage photography, and WWII exhibitions.

More information can be found here.

Kostel Castle

By dominkodKostel – Castle, CC BY 3.0, Link

Perched on a steep hill overlooking the Kolpa River is Kostel Castle, the second largest castle complex in Slovenia. Like many castles, it switched hands throughout history but it was an important strategic defense during the Ottoman invasions. It is the only inhabited castle settlement in the country. Today you can see various exhibitions, concerts, or other events.

For more information check the official website.

Bogenšperk Castle

bogensperk castle slovenia

Bogenšperk Castle is most famously associated with Janez Vajkard Valvasor, a 17th-century Slovenian scientist and historian. He purchased the castle in 1672 where he had a library, printing press, and graphic studio. Today you can visit the castle museum that shows reconstructions of his workspaces, showcases some of his work and contributions to Slovenia and more.

More information can be found here.

Žužemberk Castle

zuzemberk castle slovenia

Some believe Žužemberk Castle has its beginnings in 1000 AD but others date it around the 13th century, but it was significantly remodeled since. The castle sits along the Krka River in Dolenjska. During the summer open-air concerts and plays are hosted in the castle’s courtyard.

More information can be found here.

Raka Castle

Raka Castle
By Ljubljana5Lastno delo, CC BY-SA 4.0, Povezava

On the list for oldest in Slovenia, Raka Castle was first documented in 1161 as Castrum Arch. Raka Castle is known for the cruel Countess Barbara Bela who resided and terrorized the local population. You can still see the pillory she used along the path to the castle. You can only visit this castle with 24 decorated rooms and more than 1500 pieces of furniture, sculptures, and more with prior notice on a guided tour.

The official website can be found here.

Metlika Castle

Slovenian Castle
By Uroš NovinaOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

From the 15th century, Metlika Castle played an important role in defending Slovenia against the Ottomans. It now houses the Museum of Bela Krajina and hosts cultural events. The main collection explores the history of Bela Krajina from 1200. There are also galleries with works from local artists, a viticulture collection, and even a wine cellar with local producers.

The official website can be found here.

Castles in Štajerska

Celje Castle

celje castle slovenia day trip from ljubljana

Celje Castle was once the largest fortification in Slovenia. It was a 13th-century structure that once in the hands of the Counts of Celje became what we see today. Today you can visit the castle grounds for a tour or even see a performance in the open-air theater. Yearly festivals also take place here.

Check the site for more information.

Velenje Castle

Velenje Castle

First mentioned in 1270, Velenje Castle is one of the best-preserved in Slovenia. What was once the Valley of Castles, only one remains. Today it houses 11 museums and galleries. From remains of a mastodon found locally to Slovenian modern art, there is a little bit for everyone.

The official website can be found here.

READ
Wandering Velenje Castle

Ptuj Castle

Ptuj Castle
By Yonashek at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Ptuj Castle was built in the mid-12th century on a hill overlooking Ptuj. It was built to protect the locals from Hungarians. Ptuj is the oldest city in Slovenia dating back to prehistoric times. Due to its history and past owners, the castle has an impressive museum collection and decorated rooms full of period furniture and art.

More information can be found here.

Slovenska Bistrica Castle

By Sl-ZigaLastno delo, Javna last, Povezava

First mentioned in 1313, Slovenska Bistrica Castle (Grad Bistrica) is a Renaissance-Baroque palace. It was passed between owners from its creation until the end of World War II when it was nationalized. The castle has since been renovated over two decades and is a cultural monument of national significance. Today the castle houses over 10 different exhibitions and holds seasonal and community events.

For more information check their official site.

Olimje Castle

CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

From the 16th-century, Olimje Castle (Grad Olimje) is now a Franciscan monastery. The structure has taken many forms and identities throughout history and was originally used against the Turks. It also housed one of Europe’s oldest pharmacies which you can see an exhibition on today.

For more information check the official site.

Maribor Castle

By Miha Kukovec, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

First built in 1478, Maribor Castle (Mariborski grad) was to protect against Hungarian and Turkish threats. The castle was purchased by Maribor in 1938 and it now houses the Maribor Regional Museum. The museum has collections from Neolithic to present times containing archaeology, ethnology, art, and more.

Visit the museum’s official site for more info.

Pišece Castle

Castles of Slovenia
By Sl-ZigaOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Pišece Castle (grad Pišece) was first written about in 1329. It was originally part of the Archbishopric of Salzburg and was tied up in a legal battle over ownership for hundreds of years. Today the castle holds some events but it currently undergoing renovation and is not open to the public.

Check the official site for updates.

Bizeljsko Castle

Bizeljsko Castle
By JanezdrilcOwn work, CC0, Link

First mentioned in 1404, Bizeljsko Castle (name) is a medieval structure with Renaissance and Baroque elements. The castle is currently owned by the Klakočar family who maintains it to this day. Most of the grounds are off-limits for guest but there is a wine cellar in part of the castle where you can book a degustation on weekends.

Book a wine tasting here.

Castles in Prekmurje

Murska Sobota Castle

Murska Sobota Castle
By Photo by Szilas in Murska Sobota, Slovenia – Self-photographed, Public Domain, Link

Murska Sobota Castle (Soboški grad) was first mentioned as the Bel Mura mansion in 1255. Renovations and additions were made in the 16th century. This region of Slovenia has also been a part of Hungary and Austria at separate points in history. Like most castles, today it houses the Pomurje Museum and holds cultural events.

Visit the official site for more information.

Castle Castle

Grad grad
By Own work – photo by Szilas in Grad, Grad (Slovenia), Public Domain, Link

No, that is not a typo. Castle Castle, or Grad Grad in Slovene, is the name of Slovenia’s biggest castle. To make matters even more amusing it is located in a town called Grad. Said to date back to the 12th century, Castle Castle has 365 rooms. After WWII the castle was split into apartments but has since been partially restored and is open to the public.

Lendava Castle

By Pierre BonaOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Lendava Castle was originally built in the 12th century but has undergone serious renovations in the late 1600s. It is considered an important historical monument to the area and a great piece of Baroque architecture. The castle is in the shape of the letter L because they wanted to show their loyalty to Emperor Leopold I. Today the castle houses the Lendava-Lendva Gallery and Museum.

Visit the official site for more information.

Velika Nedelja Castle

By Sl-ZigaOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Velika Nedelja Castle was first mentioned in 1273 during the time this area was part of Salzburg territory. The castle has a Medieval core with some Renaissance elements. Velika Nedelja translates literally to big Sunday but it means Easter Sunday in Slovene. It was named after a battle on Easter day in 1199. Today it houses the Ptuj-Ormož Regional Museum with ethnological collections of the local area.

Check the official site for more information.

Castles in Koroška

Castles are limited in Koroška and by limited we can maybe say non-existent. Many of the castles that did exist in Koroška are now part of Austria due to a referendum in the early 1900s.

Ravne Castle

By BlueBayOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Ravne Castle was built in the 16th century. It served as a residence for various families throughout history and did not seem to have any use beyond that. It now houses the Ravne na Koroškem Museum and also the central library of Koroška.

More info is available on the official site.

READ
Wandering Magical and Medieval Koroška

Slovenian Castle Itinerary

Now that you have a list of the best castles in Slovenia you can utilize my Slovenian Itinerary Planner with this guide to plan your trip to Slovenia! If you have any questions about visiting the castles above or planning your trip to Slovenia please feel free to reach out.

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