Tourist Information Center:Brda Tourist Information Center
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A former medieval border military fortress and today a largely renovated village is one of the most beautiful cultural monuments in Slovenia.
The picturesque walled village with five preserved towers, perched on a panoramic hill (as the poet Alojz Gradnik would say) like an eagle's nest, can be seen from every corner of Brda. The settlement that was probably built on Roman foundations used to be a fortification on the strategic Venetian-Austrian border. Today it is an architectural jewel, a cultural monument, unique as a whole and in numerous details.
Between 16th and the second half of 18th century, Šmartno
was an important strategic defense post incorporated in the system of fortifications and never taken by the Venetians. The border was defended by contract soldiers coming from far away; many were of Uskok (Croatian) origin. The wall between the seven towers was built in a way that the passages were spacious enough to allow movement of soldiers in different directions. It seems that the settlement had a drawbridge in front of the entrance and was surrounded by a deep moat. Military origin of the village is also testified by a crenellated church bell tower and by both squares upper and lower square which were intended for gathering of soldiers in case of an enemy assault through the main entrance.
The village derives its name from the Church of St. Martin
, the largest church in Brda, with a bell tower which was once a fortification tower. A bell made in 1857 with a motif of the three holy kings is installed in the tower. The Baroque church has three magnificent marble altars, the main altar being especially rich. Presbytery and Stations of the Cross were painted by the painter Tone Kralj. The white marble pulpit on the right side of the nave is also a beautiful work.
The villagers started to modify the military character of the village in 19th century, while the professional renovation of the village was initiated at the end of 1970s on the initiative by Emil Smole, at that time director of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments in Nova Gorica. In Šmartno today, you can visit any of the exhibitions in the House of Culture, while in Briška House (Brda House) you can take a look at old furnishment of a simple farmers' house with a fireplace. The village is especially lively during the festivals Brda and Wine (Brda in vino) and during St. Martin's feast.