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Slovenia – a land of rich sacral heritage
Did you know that, with more than 3000 churches and wayside shrines, Slovenia is one of the top countries in Europe according to the number of sacral structures per capita? If you take a good look around, you’ll find that there is almost no village or little hill in Slovenia without a church or at least a wayside shrine. You’ll also find many monasteries that tell different stories from the past. In certain places, you’ll encounter priceless treasures of cultural heritage and historical relics, while some sacral buildings are now used for other purposes. Learn about some of the most interesting stories of Slovenian churches and monasteries.
The aroma of herbs in Olimje
Even just from the outside, the Olimje Minorite Monastery leaves an impression with visitors due to its unusual façade. Among other things, there is a herbal pharmacy inside, which is considered to be the third oldest in Europe. Walk through the herbal garden with more than 250 medicinal herbs. Learn about them and discover how they alleviate various afflictions.
Visit one of the most magnificent galleries in Slovenia. The Božidar Jakac Art Museum, named after one of Slovenia’s most recognisable painters, is housed in a former Cistercian monastery in Kostanjevica na Krki. Take a walk among the works of incredible Slovenian fine artists by visiting nine permanent and up to four temporary exhibitions. In the vicinity of the art museum, you can see Forma Viva sculptures created by artists from all around the world.
The Basilica of Mary Help of Christians is the largest pilgrimage site in Slovenia. In addition to the famous alter image of Mary with Jesus, the Nativity Museum is also a special attraction. It displays more than 400 items and various nativity scenes from all over the world. Starting at the Basilica in Brezje, you can go on a pilgrimage on the circular Rosary Bead Trail, and the old Pilgrimage Trail from Otoče also leads to Brezje.
Carthusian heritage in a modern way in Slovenske Konjice
Visit the oldest charterhouse in Central Europe, which now serves a completely different purpose than it did centuries ago. The Carthusians have been replaced by visitors who are in awe as they tour this incredible monument of early Carthusian architecture. Visit a pottery studio, a herbal pharmacy, and a cellar with world-class sparkling wines. Enjoy summer concert events. If you’re hungry, make sure to visit the oldest still operating Slovenian restaurant dating back to 1467, where you’ll be served selected dishes from medieval monastic cuisine, among other things.
Did you know that the last King of France, Charles X, is buried in Slovenia? The tomb with the remains of the last members of the French royal family of Bourbons can be found in a church next to the Kostanjevica pri Novi Gorici Franciscan Monastery. You can also take a walk through the monastery’s garden, where you can smell the sweet aroma of Bourbon roses. The rose garden in Kostanjevica is one of the largest collections of these wonderful flowers in Europe and the world.
Among other things, the famous architect Jože Plečnik created quite a few sacral masterpieces. In the plains of Prekmurje, you can visit a church in Bogojina, which has a special wooden ceiling, from which Plečnik hung products made by potters in Prekmurje. Another one of Plečnik’s unique creations is a church in the Ljubljana Marshes. The church contains Karst and Greek elements, and due to swampy ground, the church was built on wooden pylons.
Dance of Death in Hrastovlje
As you’re travelling through the inland areas of Slovenian Istria, make sure to stop in the pleasant Istrian village of Hrastovlje, where a unique historical treasure is hidden. The local church, hidden behind a fortified stone wall, contains one of the most famous frescoes in Slovenia – the Dance of Death or Danse Macabre. The seven-metre-long 15th-century fresco has a strong message – we are all the same upon death.
Did you know that Slovenia has its own saint? This is the former bishop Anton Martin Slomšek, who was buried in Maribor Cathedral. Climb the 57-metre-high bell tower of the cathedral and see Maribor and its surrounding area from a bird’s perspective from the panoramic platform. The tower was once used as a fire lookout tower, and to learn how fire watchers used to live make sure to visit the museum collection in the bell tower.
Once a monastery, now the main cultural establishment in Ptuj
In its almost 790 years of existence, the Ptuj Dominican Monastery has changed its intended use multiple times – it has been a monastery, a military hospital, a museum, and now a cultural establishment. Now, various events are held behind the walls of this former monastery, from cultural evenings and exhibitions, to concerts of popular music.
As you walk through the Ljubljana marketplace, make sure to visit the Cathedral of St Nicholas in its immediate vicinity, too. You can admire numerous works of art at the cathedral. Its doors are also very interesting; they were designed by the sculptor Mirsad Begić and they depict Ljubljana's archbishops of the 20th century. Occasionally, you can attend various concerts in the church. Just behind the church, you can also visit another sacral treasure that is slightly hidden from the masses – the Seminary Library.
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