North of Kostanjevica na Krki, the Krakovo forest is spreading out on the floodplain along the lower reaches of the Krka river. Together with extensive edges of wetland meadows and adjacent agricultural areas, the forest is an example of a naturally preserved wetland of the sub-Pannonian region. This is one of the most important Slovenian wetlands and, at the same time, the largest flatland forest area where common hornbeam, black alder, and a rare oak species, the English oak, grow. On a bit drier and raised land, the community of hornbeam and European false stitchwort prevails, and on areas where surface water is retained for the longest period of time, we commonly encounter the community of black alder and quaking sedge. The forest is noted for good condition of autochthonous forest communities. In the central part of the forest, a 40.5-hectare area is excluded from forestry activities. As the last example of primeval lowland forest in Slovenia, it has been protected as primeval forest reserve since 1952. Inside the forest area an overgrowing swampland Trstenik is located too. The areas of the Krakovo forest and Šentjernej field with the Krka river are included in European network of protected areas Natura 2000. In the village of Malence, situated on the edge of the Krakovo forest, a centuries old English oak grows. With a circumference of seven metres, it is one of three mightiest specimens of its kind in Slovenia.
On the edge of the Krakovo forest, in the village of Malence, stands the mighty Cvelbar English oak, the only indigenous oak that chose swampy and occasionally flooded soil as its home. Cvelbar English oak is the second largest in Slovenia, with a circumference of over seven and a half metres. It is 33 metres high and the wood mass is estimated at 65 cubic metres. It is said to be 300 years old.
Kostanjevica Cave is situated at the foot of the Gorjanci hills, which are, geologically speaking, a diverse karst terrain with cretaceous limestone rocks. Rainwater, underground water courses and tectonic movements have spent millennia creating magnificent flowstone cave formations of fairy-tale shapes. In 1937, a rapid increase of underground water caused the cave to literally open itself to the people living nearby. In 1971, electrical lighting was installed and the first three hundred meters were offered to the tourists to visit and see the most attractive parts of the cave. Total length of the cave is a little over two kilometres, but the cave system is still being explored. The footpaths in the cave are suitable for children and senior visitors. The cave has a constant temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. In the immediate vicinity of the cave there is also a wonderful picnic area.
The Krka river is the longest right tributary of the Sava in Slovenia. It originates in Suha krajina, flows first to the southeast, then turns northeast through Novo mesto, flows along the entire length of the Krško basin, and finally empties into the Sava at Brežice. It is the second longest entirely Slovenian river (after the Savinja) and the largest river in the Dolenjska region. The lower, flatland flow is characterized by having significantly more surface tributaries. One of the right tributaries with outflows is also Studena near Kostanjevica na Krki. Most tributaries combine water from several smaller watercourses. The right tributaries are especially rich in water. They flow from below the Gorjanci and Žumberška gora and, despite the karst character of both mountain ranges, are an inexhaustible source of water for the Krka. The most famous island on the Krka river (allegedly a bend in the river that was dug over) is the island on which today’s old town of Kostanjevica na Krki, the only island town in Slovenia, is situated. Lower reaches of the Krka are rich and known for its noble fish, such as catfish, pike, burbot, and it also contains many common freshwater fish – chub, cactus roach, barbel, the common nase. In the past, the Krka was very rich in fish and crustaceans. We assume that fishermen also fished for crabs, which were an excellent export commodity as they had been exported to Vienna until the duck plague. Valvasor wrote about the exceptional sizes reached by the noble crayfish from the Krka. The entire area of the island and the bottom of the Krka river is an archaeological monument, and the Krka river is included in Natura 2000 protected areas.
The Gorjanci are a range of plateau hills that cover 212 square kilometres. The highest peak of the Gorjanci is the 1178 metres high Trdinov vrh (Sveta Gera). By tectonic structure, the massif is a horst block mountain type, lifted at fault lines. It stretches from the Sava valley in the east to the Črmošnjice valley in the west. The state border between Slovenia and Croatia runs along the highest ridge, where the divide between the Krka and Kolpa rivers lies. Gorjanci are characterized by an exceptional intertwining of Pannonian and karst landscape features. The vegetation is primarily deciduous, however, after the Second World War, large areas were planted with conifers as well. The Gorjanci are a hydrological and geomorphological reserve. They hide a piece of primeval forest and are a rare example of a still preserved original pure beech forest in Central Europe. A beech primeval forest (at an altitude of 995 to 1165 m) lies below Trdinov vrh peak. In the upper part of the primeval forest the predominant beech tree is joined with mountain maple, Norway maple and very rarely the mountain ash. Along the lower edge of the primeval forest, predominantly populated by beech trees and goatsbeard plants, near the Pendirjevka stream, we can also find whitebeam trees.
The old town centre of today’s Kostanjevica na Krki was created on an artificial island in the meander of the Krka river. The origin of the settlement is closely connected with the Carinthian dynasty of the Speinheims, who in the early 12th century acquired extensive territories along the lower reaches of the Krka river, on the border between the German state and the Kingdom of Hungary, and built the Kostanjevica fortress to defend their estates. The original German name Landestrost – trust, faith, courage of the land – says that Kostanjevica, with a mint and a newly established monastery in the immediate vicinity, occupied an important political, economic and religious position within the Speinheim territory. The settlement of the same name, which was mentioned as a town on coins from around 1215, was also of great importance, although town rights were first shown in documents in 1252. At the end of the Middle Ages, when the town was losing its significance, a new German name was introduced – Landstrass. The Slovene name Kostanjevica is first traced to 1615. The original urban arrangement with two parallel streets, Ulica talcev and Oražnova ulica (also called Veliki and Mali plac), is probably not of medieval origin. The main access points to the town were, as they are today, two bridges, on the south and north sides, only then the bridges were drawbridges. Kostanjevica was the only town in Slovenia that was not surrounded by defensive walls and had to rely solely on its location on the island in terms of defence.
Take a walk around the only Slovenian town on an island with a local tourist guide. You will see the exterior of interesting buildings such as: Lamut Art Salon, Churches of St. Nicholas and of St. Jacob, the houses of painter Jože Gorjup and physician and politician Dr. Ivan Oražen, as well as the largest modern wall mosaic in Slovenia. You will learn something about engineer Josef Ressel (inventor of the ship propeller), pharmacist Emilia Fon, the Gorjanci hills and wooden bridges.
The tour lasts from 75 to 90 minutes, the price for a group of up to 20 people is 50 €, and for groups over 20 people it is 2.50 € per person.
The Božidar Jakac Art Museum is housed on the premises of a former Cistercian monastery, founded in 1234 by the Duke of Carinthia Bernard Speinheim. The monastery functioned until 1786, when it was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II. A regional administrative centre was later opened on its premises. Throughout the 19th century, we follow the gradual decline of the complex, whose systematic and comprehensive renovation began in the 1950s.
Its oldest core is the Church of St. Mary, which is one of the most beautiful examples of early Gothic (later Baroque) architecture in Slovenia. The monastery was rebuilt several times during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and its present appearance, with one of the largest arcaded courtyards in Central Europe, was completed in the first half of the 18th century. In 1974, the renovated premises of the former monastery were occupied by the then established Božidar Jakac Gallery, within which the works of Slovenian artists – Božidar Jakac, brothers France and Tone Kralj, Jože Gorjup, France Gorše, Zoran Didek, Janez Boljka and Bogdan Borčić – now present their permanent collections. Visitors can also see the Pleterje Collection of Old Masters, which is owned by the nearby Pleterje Carthusian monastery. Temporary exhibitions take place in Lapidarium, on the new premises and in the former monastery church, which is proving to be an exceptional exhibition space for which domestic and foreign artists prepare specific exhibition projects. The gardens of the monastery complex house sculptures that have been created as part of the international symposium of sculptors called Forma Viva since 1961. The Božidar Jakac Art Museum also offers a varied pedagogical programme intended for preschool and school groups. A walk between selected works of art develops communication, which is connected with a painting, sculpture or graphic workshop, where you work with printmaking techniques such as monotype, drypoint, linocut… Programmes can also be carried out for special needs groups.
Centuries of spirituality combined with culture and art represent an ideal place for a romantic and unforgettable wedding. You can say your vows in the mighty former monastery church, the colonnade hall with the installation of works by the sculptor Janez Boljka, or by the fountain in the magnificent arcaded courtyard. If your wedding party includes only your closest friends and family, the smaller ceremonial space of the Potokar Library is the perfect choice. After the ceremony, you can share a drink or two in the pleasant ambience of the Cviček Wine Cellar.
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Forma Viva – the International Symposium of Sculptors began in 1961 at the initiative of sculptors Jakob Savinšek and Janez Lenassi. First it took place in Seča near Portorož and Kostanjevica na Krki, and later on two additional locations. Given the available material, Kostanjevica’s Forma Viva is characterized by sculptures in oak, in Seča near Portorož in stone, in Ravne na Koroškem in metal and in Maribor in concrete. For the first few years, the events took place every year, while later they slowed down a bit. At the end of the 1980s, Forma Viva ceased to operate everywhere except in Seča. After ten years of dormancy, in 1998 Forma Viva started in Kostanjevica na Krki again and now takes place biennially. Forma Viva participants from all around the world come here. Their sculptures, which take a month to be completed, are set in a beautiful natural setting. They are created exclusively from oak wood, which is a typical base material for this geographical area.
Today, more than a hundred wooden sculptures are displayed in the immediate vicinity of a former Cistercian monastery, home to the Božidar Jakac Art Museum, and in Kostanjevica na Krki.
In 1905, on the initiative of Ivan Globočnik, the then mayor of Kostanjevica, and Anton Pavčič, the school administrator, the construction of a new school building began. The opening of the four – grade new school was in 1906. During World War II, the school, occupied by the White Guards and the Germans, was badly damaged. After 1948, it was rebuilt and trained for teaching. After World War II, when students returned to the partially demolished building, the school also received a lower grammar school and eighth grade, and in 2003 it entered a nine-year program. Lado Smrekar, a long-time principal, left a unique mark on the school. He connected the educational function of the school with the cultural mission and in 1956 he opened the permanent Gorjup Gallery in the school, which exhibits works by Slovenian and foreign artists. The operation of the Gorjup Gallery in 1974 came under the auspices of the newly established Božidar Jakac Gallery. The permanent exhibition presents a selection of plastics, paintings, drawings and graphics from the extensive international collection of works of art of the 20th century. In 1982, a new school building and kindergarten were added to the old work, and the school was named after a local painter, painter, graphic artist, sculptor, poet and director, a representative of Slovene expressionism and the new reality, Jože Gorjup. In the same year, a giant mosaic was created, which adorns the front of the gym and measures as much as 185 square meters. It was made at the suggestion of Ivan Seljak-Čopič, it represents the battle of Krško polje in 1573, and the words of Alojz Gradnik are imprinted in it. The inscription shows eloquent proof of the resilience and perseverance of the people trapped between the slopes of Gorjanci and the green beauty that surrounds the town on the island: »Nothing will take years here, because nothing is stronger than the pain of humiliation endured, which spills over into the son with the bitter blood of the father.«
Visiting the Gorjup Gallery is only possible by prior arrangement.
The ministerial manor is the most important preserved profane building in the town, whose function and L-shaped floor plan point to centuries of architectural history. Its beginnings date back to the 16th century, when the old Kostanjevica castle was abandoned. After the great fire in 1577, the then pledgee of the Kostanjevica lordship Janez pl. Wernegk began construction of the southern wing, which was again damaged by fire in 1617. Shortly afterwards, a western wing with arcades was added. After a fire in 1663, the building was restored. In 1667, it was bought by the Kostanjevica Cistercian monastery. They added the eastern wing and the chapel of St. Ana in the 18th century and owned the monastery until its abolition in 1785. In 1793 it was bought by the town council and a new parish and school were opened on the premises. At that time, the easternmost part was added as well as a covered staircase. The school was moved from the monastery to this newly constructed part of the building. In 1958, the Lamut Art Salon, named after the academic painter and graphic artist Vladimir Lamut, was set up in the eastern wing. He was a big fan of Kostanjevica and kept his art studio here.
The former border watchtower stands on a small hill in Črneča vas. The ground plan of the tower is a square that gradually narrows towards the top, and its exact time of origin is still unknown. The window openings with stone frames under the roof are reminiscent of Gothic forms, confirming the most widespread assumption that the tower was formed at the time of the Turkish invasions. The tower has been partially renovated several times in the past, then the Municipality of Kostanjevica na Krki recognized its significance and in 2012 began activities for its overall renovation. In 2015, the roof of the building and its foundations were restored, in 2017 a complete renovation of the interior took place along with providing electricity to the tower, and in 2018 the surroundings were tended to. The tower is open to visitors every day of the year.
When the carnival time comes, the four-day traditional carnival of Šelmarija kicks off in Kostanjevica na Krki. This unique custom, which is the oldest carnival event in Slovenia, has been preserved for more than 160 years. It is organized by the Ethnological Society Prforcenhaus, which is entered in the Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage and brings together locals who support and preserve these cultural practices and customs.
This is an event organized by the Youth Association of Kostanjevica na Krki and is slowly becoming traditional. The idea itself fits into the tradition of cultural festivals, which was established by Lado Smrekar with the Dolenjska Cultural Festival and Forma Viva, and continued with Gogini dnevi and Noster Nostri festival. The Youth Association wants to fill the gap created by the disappearance of these and other cultural festivals from the region in recent years, and offer a cultural festival with a top-notch programme. The FKK Festival first saw the light of day in 2018 and lasted for two days, and has now become a four-day event. It includes theatre plays, literary talks and outdoor concerts.
The beginnings of Kostanjevica Night date back to the 1950s, when the town’s fishermen organized a national competition in float fishing. At that time, boats on the Krka river were decorated with handmade lanterns painted in rainbow colours with candles burning in them. The magic of Kostanjevica Night can also be found in its cuisine. They used to serve net-caught cactus roach fish, pike and catfish, but today they also offer many other delicacies. In recent years, in addition to decorated boats, the Krka river is adorned with lights in eggshells, which the townspeople diligently collect throughout the year.
Traditional get-togethers under the chestnut trees on the “Tamali plac” in the month of October, with roasted chestnuts and potatoes. You can try your hand at horseshoe throwing, tug of war and creative workshops, and the youngest visitors in a race with balance bikes.
Kostanjevica na Krki has designed various tourist packages within the Association of Historic Towns of Slovenia. Find yours and set out to discover and explore the town on the island.
Experience home-made flavors that will impress you with their simplicity and immediacy. Tri lučke also offer a café, accommodation, a wedding and conference hall and a wine cellar.
The karst enclosed valley Podjama is a natural phenomenon, a karstic world in miniature, with typical karst features, such as cave, karst springs, subterranean watercourse, sinkholes and ponors. Bats, the present occupants of Ajdovska cave, had used it as shelter and hunting grounds for at least 5000 years already, according to some estimations. The cave is located nearby Krško. It’s open from 15.10. to 15.4.
Repnice are caves dug in quartz sand, where turnips were once stored over the winter, which was the main fodder for livestock and after which repnice also got their name. After abandoning this type of storage, repnice became one of the monuments of the past, and many winegrowers converted it into a space for storing wine and tasting wines. In the villages of Brezovica, Bizeljsko, Pišece and Globoko, you can even visit more than 200-year-old repnice, which provide a truly unique experience.
Jovsi is the name of a 460 ha large area of marshy meadows along the Sotla River between Kapelske gorice. The area is protected as a natural monument and a Natura 2000 area. These are wetlands where many rare and also endangered plant and animal species have found their habitat.
Kunst Inn is located in Krško. They give preference to local products and to seasonal and fresh ingridients. They also offer accommodation.
They offer fresh trout, Sunday lunches, homemade koline (pork meat and sausages) in winter, roast pork, homemade buckwheat, corn and white bread as well as their house strudel. The inn is located in Podbočje.
The Goričar family fishery has been breeding, processing and selling freshwater fish since 1978. It is located in the village of Slivje.
The farm and fishery are located in Podbočje.
It is located in the village of Drča, in the immediate vicinity of the Pleterje Charterhouse. They offer many different dishes.
They offer a variety of dishes, desserts and catering.
The castles lie between the rivers Mirna, Sava, Krka and Sotla. They have been part of the cultural landscape for more than a millennium and bear witness to the life of the inhabitants, which was intertwined with the lives of all who travelled through these parts. In Posavje, all paths lead to a castle.
Šeruga Tourist Farm is located in Sela pri Ratežu, about a 20-minute drive from Kostanjevica na Krki. The ideal place for anyone in search of tranquillity, pristine nature and delicious homemade food.
Located in Globočice near Krška vas, the tourist farm Pri Martinovih offers home-made food, wine and accommodation
The Pleterje Charterhouse is a monastery of the Carthusian order, the strictest male order in the Roman Catholic Church and the only still-inhabited Carthusian monastery in Slovenia. It is located near Šentjernej. You can visit their Gothic chapel and an open-air museum, as well as their shop which offers local wines, spirits and other products.
This is the only water castle in Slovenia. It is located on one of the islands on the Krka river not far from Novo mesto. Today, the castle is converted into a luxury hotel with rooms, suites and a castle restaurant with top-notch cuisine.
The Herbal Centre of SE Slovenia is located in the village of Zagrad in the municipality of Škocjan. The purpose of the centre is to establish a network between herbal growers, processors, users and other interested parties. Their main goal is to create a centre of medicinal plants in south eastern Slovenia, based on agriculture, tourism, education and preservation of natural and cultural heritage.
Klevevž is a natural thermal water spring near Šmarješke Toplice with a temperature of 24.8 degrees Celsius and is suitable for swimming in all seasons.
This is the first fountain of Cviček in the world. Visitors can taste the three main ingredients of Cviček: Žametna črnina (a light red wine), Modra frankinja (red wine rich in tannin), Dolenjsko belo (a blend of white wines) and Cviček made by members of both winegrowing associations active in the municipality of Šmarješke Toplice.
The Vovko inn is located in the village of Ratež near Novo mesto. They use seasonal ingredients in their cooking, combining them into more or less traditional local dishes. They also offer accommodation.
A typical Slovenian inn in Šentjanž with its own organic farm and shop. They also offer accommodation.
Dolenjska and Posavje regions are rich in thermal springs. Terme Čatež offers a wide range of swimming pools and accommodation. This is the largest waterpark in Slovenija.
In Šmarješke Toplice, the healing effects of thermal water are perfectly intertwined with the beauty of the Dolenjska region and its pleasant climate.
Dolenjske Toplice are the oldest thermal spa in Europe. An art hotel with comfortable rooms and superb wellness services.
Terme Paradiso is located near Brežice and offers swimming pools, accommodation and wellness.
They take you on a tour of the apiary, where they offer aromatherapy with aromas of bee products, honey massages, honey picnics or tasting of honey, mead and gingerbread cookies. They also introduce you to pottery of the Dolenjska region and show you how to make pots on a potter’s wheel.
Old Slovenian towns, including Kostanjevica na Krki, proud of their uniqueness and heritage charm, form the Association of Historic Towns of Slovenia. It was established at the initiative of the mayors of Idrija, Piran, Ptuj, Škofja Loka and Tržič at a ceremonial meeting in Ptuj on 12 June 2001. Associated towns show a diversity of culture from prehistory through the Middle Ages to the Baroque to the present day with their architectural heritage. As many as a third of Slovenian towns are protected as monuments. The towns and cities connected into the association make sure to preserve and revitalize their unique cultural heritage and to organize an abundance of events - every day of the year.