Castle Vrbovec is located at confluence of rivers Dreta and Savinja in Nazarje. In the documents it is mentioned by its German name Altenburg. The name Vrbovec is an old Slovene expression, which means "among the willow trees", for many willow trees grew at the banks of river Dreta.
The original castle of Vrbovec, raised on a mass of flat stones in the middle of the complex, was built in the first half of the 12th century. It got its actual form probably around the year 1480. Among its owners there were the Aquileia patriarchs, counts of Vovbrk, counts of Celje and the Habsburg dynasty, until 1615 when it was bought by the diocese of Ljubljana which kept it until the Second World War. During the war the castle was a headquarters of German troops, so in 1944 it was burned by partisans. At the end of the war the castle was partially rebuilt. It was saved from ruin by the Management of forests of Nazarje, which completely rebuilt it between 1988 and 1992.
Originally the castle served as headquarters of administration of properties of Aquileia, later it was a domicile to several feudal families and for a certain time, it was a headquarters of administrative bodies. Already before the First World War the castle hosted part of administration of diocese, which later expanded. In the years 30 of the 20th century the castle hosted a cooperative and workers' savings bank.
Today the castle hosts administration of municipality Nazarje, some private companies, institutions of management of woods of this area, wedding hall, restaurant and a museum of forestry and woodcraft.
Museum Vrbovec - The museum of forestry and woodcraft
In September 2001 there was a Museum of forestry and woodcraft opened in the castle Vrbovec, which is a unique of its kind in Slovenia. The activity of museum Vrbovec is protection, safekeeping and presentation of cultural heritage of forestry and woodcraft in the area of the Upper Savinja valley. Its contents are based on the life of ordinary people: foresters, lorry drivers, sawyers and rafters for whom the wood represented the only source of living in this closed and mostly wooded country.
The monastery library in the Franciscan monastery Nazarje
In 1752 there was a library established in the monastery. During the Second World War, in 1944, it was pretty damaged, together with the monastery. Many of precious books were destroyed and the others were kept for decades in unsuitable conditions. Some books were preserved and nowadays they are found in the renewed library in the east wing of the monastery.
The library is proud to have some rare exhibits. The parchment manuscripts from the 11th and the 12th centuries, the translation of Gospels by Primož Trubar from 1557 and two Bibles by Jurij Dalmatin from 1584. The collection is opened to public.
The Brčun mill
It was built on the stream Voložnica in village Rovt pod Menino. It is the only well preserved mill on this stream, where in the first half of the 20th century there were 13 mills. It is accessible from the Brčun house or from the road between Lipa and Rovt pod Menino. Because of its age, its actual state of preservation, and especially because of its rich equipment it represents an important ethnologic and cultural heritage.
The Tominšek granary
The Tominšek granary in Rovt pod Menino from the year 1686, which is carved into the entrance door, is one of the oldest preserved granaries in Slovenia. The wooden part is built of timber, in corners linked together by a groove, named "the dovetail". In the second floor, there are even double "dovetail" unions. There are some wooden chests and some furniture.
The Church of St. Gervasius and Protasius in Rovt pod Menino
The church from the beginning of the 16th century is first mentioned in 1631. It is the only church in Slovenia, consecrated to these two saints. It was execrated by the emperor Joseph the 2nd, but it was re-consecrated after the renewal in 1868. Until 1788 it was a succursal church of Gornji Grad, and after that of the church of St. Martin ob Dreti. Until recently it was in poor condition, but now it is renewed and restored.
The Franciscan monastery and the parish church of the Feast of the Annunciation in Nazarje
The Franciscan monastery is located on a hill at the confluence of rivers Savinja and Dreta. In the year 1623 it was donated by count Sigismund to the bishop Tomaž Hren. In 1636 the Franciscan monks who came from Bosnia to flee the Turc occupation started to build the monastery. On its spot it was for years the chapel of Loret, built in 1625. The present church was built in 1661. It enclosured the chapel of Loret. The church is a typical renaissance building with the baroque interior decoration.
Between years 1747 and 1763 the church was redecorated and it is mostly conserved till the present day. The altar of St. Francis of Assisi was made by Francesco Robba in 1750. The central altar painting, which is kept in the monastery corridor, was painted by Fortunat Bergant in 1765 and the painting in the atics by Valentin Metzinger. The latter also painted the oil paintings of other altars and chapel, except for the central painting of St. Florian which was painted in 1828 by Janez Potočnik. The main altar of the church and of the chapel of Loret was made by Janez Vurnik in 1885 and 1897. In 1747 the stone pilgrim's staircase (193 stairs) was made with four pilgrimage chapels by its side.
The monastery was also known for its pharmacy which is supposed to be opened before the year 1695. In 1752 there was a library established in the monastery which was pretty damaged during the Second World War. Some books were preserved and nowadays they are found in the renewed monastery library.
In the years between 1786 and 1941 the Franciscan monks ran a school to educate and train young people. From 1982 till 2000 the monastery hosted a Nun order of Franciscan Immaculate conception.
The nunnery of St. Clare in Nazarje
Close to the church of the Feast of Annunciation and the Franciscan monastery there is a monastery of another Franciscan order, the poor sisters of order of St. Clare, the Poor Clares. At the moment there are fourteen nuns. The order of sisters of St. Clare was founded by St. Clare of Assisi, who lived between 1193 and 1253. In 1782 the emperor Joseph the 2nd issued a decree to dissolve all the nunneries of St. Clare. The nuns of St. Clare returned to Nazarje in 1978, after almost two hundred years. In 2003 they celebrated the 25 anniversary of their return.
The Succursal Church of Holy Virgin in Kokarje
The village and the chapel are for the first times mentioned in documents in 1340. The village was simply named "By the chapel" and the name Kokarje only appears in 1460. This is the pilgrimage church from its beginning. The first big gathering was mentioned in 1460, when the Bishop Casper brought in the winter the procession from Gornji Grad, because the winter was very harsh and many cattle and people died of cold. His request for help from God was fulfiled. Soon after the gathering the weather became warmer. Nowadays there is every year a gathering in Kokarje in memory of this event.
The church of Holy virgin was built first and later, south of it, the chapel of St. Anne. The present form of the church was made in the 19th century. On the altar of St. Joseph there are two statues of brothers St. Cyril and St. Metod, which show the national perception of believers in the area at that time. The church has frescoes by Jakob Broll from 1887.
The Succursal Church of St. Catherine at Gorica pri Lačji vasi
It seems that this church was built in 1614 and consecrated by Bishop Hren. It is for the first time mentioned in 1631. At that time it was without the sacristy and the bell tower. There was only a small tower on the roof. The bell tower was built in the 18th century and elevated for the bells in the first half of the 19th century. The arches of the aisle and gothic presbytery were rebuilt in 1898. The presbytery was painted in 1899 by Ivan Fantoni. All three altars were made by Andrej Cesar in 1877. The church is still a succursal of church at Rečica.
The Parish Church of St. Martin in Šmartno ob Dreti
The village and the church were for the first time mentioned in documents in 1426. In the second half of the 17th century the bell tower was rebuilt. The aisle was elevated in 1728 and the northern chapel was added to it. In 1802 the southern chapel was added. The present form was made in 1858 by a big renovation. The interior painting by artist Jozef Edgar Kleinert from Vienna from 1926 was renewed in 1984 by David Plešnik. All three altars were made around 1900. The bell tower has a bell from the 15th century.
The Parish Church of St. Jošt in Rovt pod Menino
The church was for the first time mentioned in the documents in the land register of Gornji Grad in 1426. The original image of this gothic church, built in the 15th century, is almost entirely preserved. At that time the tower bell, covered aisle and presbytery with crossed and ribbed arches were built. In the 15th century the aisle received the star-like arches. From the old equipment there is a Gothic folding altar from around 1380 with images of legend of St. Odile. The reliefs of St. Dorothy and of St. Anne on the pulpit date from the beginning of the 16th century.
In 1840 the church got a renewed choir. In the same time the decision to repaint the whole church was made which resulted in destruction of some middle-age frescoes. Some of the frescoes were covered by paint. The place behind the church is cut into hill, so the northern wall is in the ground to the half of its height.
Monuments of the National Liberation War (NLW)
the NLW monument in Nazarje
the NLW monument in Šmartno ob Dreti
the NLW monument at Čreta (near St. Catherine, above Jegovnik,
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