Near Nova Gorica's centre, on a 143m high hill Kostanjevica is the Church, called Gospodovega oznanenja Mariji
and beside it a Franciscan monastery. Close to the Slovenian-Italian border, the Chapel as it is referred to by the locals, is known for having a rich history, holding priceless treasures from the past and being a former holy place for pilgrims. Both believers and tourists alike from both sides of the border enjoy visiting Kostanjevica, which has been in the care of the Franciscan brothers for already 180 years. Besides being a religious centre, it is also a holder of religious art and an important historical and cultural site (Bourbon crypt and the monastery's library).
A few legends circle around the origin of the church, however from historical sources, we know that in 1623, Count Matija Thurn had a smaller church built on a piece of his land. It was decided to build the church where an image of Mary was brought and in front of which people gathered and prayed. Next to the church is a monastery. The Carmelite monks were among the first caretakers who expanded and embellished both buildings during 134 years. Kostanjevica blossomed but unfortunately its growth was interrupted for 10 years in 1781 by Emperor Joseph II, and the Carmelite monks were ordered to leave in 1785. In 1811, Kostanjevica was assigned to be administered by the Slovenian Franciscans. During the years 1924-29, the church was renovated because it was greatly damaged in the First World War and rich stucco work was added to revive its previous beauty. In the centre of the marble altar, is an image of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus encircled by a golden frame with rays. One point of interest are the number of funeral plates which demonstrates the ties believers had to this site.
Kostajevica's cultural history is presented with the crypts where the last descendants of the French King's relatives, the Bourbons, were buried. King Karl X Bourbon and his family were banished from France in 1830, during the July revolution. They obtained refuge in Gorica from Count Coronini of Gorica. Their wish was to be buried on Kostanjevica and this is how the place has become known around the world as The Small St.-Denis.
The monastery's library is named after Father Stanislav škrabec, a great Slovenian linguist who lived in the monastery for more than 40 years. A rich collection of books from the Sveta Gora library were brought to Kostanjevica when the Franciscan monks relocated there. Included is some priceless printed material from the 16th century. Later on, the library became enriched by operating as a school for potential monks but unfortunately the school was relocated to Kamnik because of the war. Within the monastery, the library occupies two big rooms and contains around 10,000 books. There are 30 incunabula (first editions) and a collection of books from the 16th to the 19th century. Among them is an important Slovenian grammar book called ˝Articae horuale˝ by Adam Bohorič, with his signature. Due to the priceless collection, the library has been protected as a national cultural heritage site since 1952 and in 1985, all of Kostanjevica (the church, monastery, library and crypt) was declared as an art and architectural site and as such is protected as a cultural heritage for the Slovenian people.