Kostanjevica na Krki is one of the smallest and oldest Slovenian towns. It’s the only town in Slovenia where its historic centre is located on an island in the middle of the Krka river, which makes this town unique worldwide. It’s also the only town in Slovenian that didn’t need a defensive wall in the past. It’s located below Gorjanci in the south-eastern part of Slovenia, between Zagreb and Ljubljana.
There are two stone artefacts (plates) from the stone age and a prehistoric boat, found in the river Krka, next to Kostanjevica, that serve as proof of an early territory colonization. The town, as we know it today, originates directly from the middle ages in the 13th century, when the areas in the lower part of Krka started to get owned by the Speinheim dynasty with the duke Bernard, who had the most influence in the development of Kostanjevica. It’s first medieval name was Landestrost, from the German language, meaning trust, courage of the land, and it also owned a money mint. In 1252, the town was given its town rights and consequently became the first town of Dolenjska with its own rights.
Through time, Kostanjevica started losing importance in the region. It was because of floods, fires, the plague, Turkish invasions, the Reformation, etc. This decline was momentarily interrupted by Maria Theresia, who renewed the town’s rights in 1774. The closing of the nearby monastery, which was an important town partner, worsened the economic situation. The industrialization in the 19th century avoided the town Kostanjevica, which helped it keep most of its rustic characteristics until today.
Today, Kostanjevica na Krki is a municipality with 2500 habitants, a rich natural, cultural and gastronomic offer and a lot of sport activities, like horseback riding, boating, SUP, skike, swimming, cycling, hiking.
Town on a river island
Kostanjevica is a town on an island in the middle of a river, which makes it unique in the world. It is possible to get to the island on 3 bridges. Two (north and south) are opened for traffic, the smallest “pietist bridge” could be crossed only by bicycles or pedestrians. The town is crossed by two parallel streets, Ulica talcev and Oražnova ulica.
It’s easy to recognise Kostanjevica by its wooden bridges, made from oak wood of the Krakov forest. In the past, the pillars were placed manually and this craft was mastered by the masters of Kostanjevica.
The Church of St. Jacob
The oldest building on the island is the parish church of St. Jacob, mentioned in old written sources from 1220. The church has a roman base but through time it integrated elements from other periods. It acquired its final form in the 18th century. Its greatest peculiarity is represented by the western and southern Roman portals. They include bud capitals that precedes the Gothic period. The interior is decorated completely in baroque style. The rich baroque altar is decorated with a statue of the patron St. Jacob with St. Peter and St. Paul beside it. The side altars are made from marble that came from the nearby monastery church. On the north side, there’s an altar of St. Anthony of Padua, to which the parishioners bring pork legs and other dried meat products praying for quality products.
The Church of St. Nicholas
First mentioned in 1581. Originally it was a part of the town hospital and after its closure it became a succursale church. In 1683 and 1744 it burned down and in both cases it was restored. The presbytery was built in the 17th century and furnished with a late-baroque altar that was removed in 1931, when the local painter and sculptor Jože Gorjup painted the gothic presbytery.
The oldest secular building on the island is the mansion of Kostanjevica, built in the 16th century, after the destruction of the Kostanjevica castle during the battle between the Counts of Celje and the Habsburgs. It’s special for its corbel pier on the juncture of the L-shaped building. Inside, there’s the shrine of St. Ana from the 18th century. Today, in the southern part of the mansion there’s Lamut’s art salon, which hosts exhibitions and it’s one of the 2 relocated units of the Gallery Božidar Jakac.
Gallery Božidar Jakac
Gallery Božidar Jakac is one of the biggest art galleries in Slovenia and it is named after Božidar Jakac the first artist who donated first works. It was established in 1974 with headquarters at a former cisterian monastery. It hosts permanent collections of most famous slovenian artists as France and Tone Kralj, Zoran Didek, Bogdan Borčić, Janez Boljka and France Gorše. You can also admire Pleterje collections which are masterpieces of different artists from western Europe. (read more)
Gallery Božidar Jakac has two dislocated locations, one in the old Primary school and the Manor in the town center which serve as permanent and exhibition locations of slovenian and foreign artists.
We can say the gallery is a natural consequence of cultural awakening after the second world war. The man who led the cultural thrive was Lado Smrekar who was at the time headmaster at primary school and established in 1956 the first permanent collection of works of Jože Gorjup, local artist which school is named after. Forma Viva the sculpture symposium also took place in 1961. The garden of the old cisterian monastery became a new exhibition place. Now there is more than 100 wooden sculptures and biyearly three more are made from artist around the globe.
The main home of the gallery is a costerian monastery which was founded in 1234 by Bernard Speinheim. It has one of the biggest court backyards in middle Europe At the time the monastery was an economic, religious and cultural center of the region. It was active till 1785 when Joseph II the Habsburg dissolved it. From then on it was a place for many regional headquarters. After the second world war it became one of the leading cultural centers in the country and it still continues its mission.
Kostanjevica cave is considered one of most beautiful caves in Slovenia. It is rich with stalactites, stalagmites, pillars and curtains. If you have an imagination you can see many interesting parts and listen to the legends of the cave from the local masters of storytelling.
It was discovered after heavy rain in 1937, where water opened the main entrance to the cave. From then on Kostanjevica cave enthusiasts keep on discovering the cave. Now there is known to be more than 2km of the cave system and new ways and new caves are being discovered. Cave is opened
It is located 1km south of the old town center with 300m of idyllic path of the underground world. It is open for tourist guidance between 15th of April till 31th of October at the weekends every even hours between 10am till 6pm. In July & August tourist guidance is provided all days at the same regime of hours.
Is the biggest flatland forest complex in Slovenia located between river Krka and Sava and is a home to a rich variety of flora and fauna species. It is spreaded on around 2.500 ha majority with oak, white hornbeam and alder. In the heart of it there is 40ha of secondary primeval forest. The Kraków Forest provides shelter to many species of animals and plants and is a wetland of national importance. 122 species of birds have found their place here, many of them are very rare in Slovenia (eg black stork and white-tailed eagle). Wetlands are a common occurrence. One of the most famous is Trstenik, which is an important bird area in Europe, a spawning ground for fish and a spawning ground for frogs. The most beautiful example of this is the frog fin, which acquires a recognizable blue color during spawning. The Kraków Forest is also home to protected plants such as the marsh logarithm and the marsh tulip. It is known that in the southern part of the forest there are larger reservoirs of thermal water with active ingredients. The oak from the Kraków Forest is also the basis of the sculptures next to the Cistercian monastery in the immediate vicinity of Kostanjevica na Krki. Joseph Ressel was the first who mapped the Krakovo forest around 1820. He is also famous for the invention of a ship’s propeller on the river Krka near Kostanjevica. Very close to it there is also second biggest oak in Slovenia named Cvelbarjev hrast which is more than 300 years old, has 33m height and more than 7m of diameter.
To see all main landmarks of Krakovo forest we propose a 2 hours walk through a Ressel trail. We recommend a dry part of the year if you don’t want to get muddy.
Gorjanci so kraško hribovje in najbolj vzhodni dinaridi v Sloveniji s slemenitvijo JZ–SV, kar jih ločuje od vsesplošne slemenitve dinarskega gorstva, SZ–JV. Sleme je tudi državna meja med Slovenijo in Hrvaško. Na hrvaški strani hribovju rečejo Žumberak. Najvišji vrh je Trdinov Vrh z nadmorsko višino 1.178 m. (preberi več)
Gorjanci hills are the carst hill range and most eastern part of carst surface in Slovenia, which has an opposite ridge orientation as the rest of the dinarids. The top of the ridge is a national border with Croatia. Highest mountain peak is Trdinov vrh 1178m. Close to Kostanjevica na Krki on Ravna Gora at the 900m height, there is a primeval forest complex of 15,6ha which is a good learning base for the study of the beech forests which are predominant on Gorjanci hills. You can admire many cultivated sinkholes around villages Oštrc and Črešnjevec and limestone surface all across the range. In the past a lot of people were living from forestry and transport of wood to the valley on horse carriages.
Many hiking and cycling trails lead across the Gorjanci hills, just few around Kostanjevica are Cvičkova pot, Pot na Kičer, Uskoška pot, Pot čestitk and others.
Cviček & wineyard cottages
When we are talking about Slovenian wines we can say they are becoming more and more known around the world. But we have another secret hidden gem for you in the south eastern part of Slovenia, it is called Cviček, the most unique Slovenian wine. Cviček was first mentioned at the end of the 17th century by Janez Vajkad Valvasor and was developed through centuries till now. It is a protected cuvee blend with PTP (protected traditional naming) also on European regulatory scale. It contains from 4 main sorts- Žametna črnina, Laški rizling, Kraljevina and Modra Frankinja. It is a unique fresh, light wine with fruity notes for every day.
Why is it so special? One of few wines in the world blended from red and white grapes
- Can grow only on selected territory of Dolenjska region with centuries long tradition
- Low level of alcohol, up to 10%
- Red Rubin colour
- Dry wine
- Fresh and fruity aromas
- Appropriate for modern active person in moderate quantities has positive effect on digestion, increases appetite, prevents insomnia, lowers cholesterol and strengthens blood flow
- Goes great with strong greasy meat dishes
- Best served between 14-16 °C
Cviček has its own royal court which is assembled out of King, Princess and Ambassador of Cviček. King is new every year and it is a winemaker who has the best Cviček this year, the princess is a young lady who is most knowledgeable about this special wine, also for a one year period and ambassadors are active people who have done a lot for promotion of the wine in the past..
As a part of a wine history in Dolenjska region, vineyard cottages emerged at the beginning just as storage spaces which evolved to a weekend getaway. In the past almost every family had its own vineyard in the rolling hills and were self-sufficient with wine. This unique structure of vineyard cottages is known only in this part of Slovenia. Nowadays also can serve as an additional traditional touristic infrastructure and is becoming more and more popular among people who seek nature, peace and good food & wine..
Kostanjevica na Krki is a town of festivals and everyone can find something that suits them. You can enjoy a variety of cultural, sport and local events in the smallest slovenian town for the biggest adventures. Most known are :
- Šelmarija shrove carnival with more than 150 years of tradition and special characters of the assembly of the Prforcenhaus who take over the authority for the shrove time.
- Kostanjevica night, a summer festival every third weekend in July with a unique contest of decorated boats on the river, candles in an egg shelves make a romantic atmosphere, not to mention the big firework at midnight.
- FKK- festival of culture Kostanjevica. A bunch of young cultural enthusiasts continue to develop culture in a town where culture is in our genes. Many theatre shows and music performances happen a few days in a row at the beginning of July in an old cisterian monastery where Gallery Božidar Jakac takes place.
- Apartma na Krki **** www.na-krki.si
- Apartmaji Ob Krki *** www.ob-krki.si
- Gostišče Žolnir ** www.zolnir.eu
- Vila Castanea *** www.vila-castanea.si