Dolenjska, different experiences

Novo mesto

The Krka River and Rudolf's Raft

The Krka River is one of the most prominent natural landmarks in Novo mesto. The area around one of its bends provided early settlers with shelter way back in prehistoric times, and it remains a recognizable symbol of Novo mesto.

Krka is one of the most typical Slovenian rivers and the only river in Slovenia that forms tufa in its riverbed. The Krka River Valley, with its inseparable intertwining of natural and cultural heritage, represents a unique symbol of Dolenjska. It is emphasized by the disappearing legacy of old watermills, preserved wooden bridges, numerous castles and settlements sited on the banks of the river; Novo mesto was formed around one of its most distinctive hairpin bends. The river offers refuge to numerous species of animals and plants, and is also one of the most fish-filled rivers in Slovenia.

Riding on Rudolf's raft is a special experience. While drifting along the famous bend of the river, you will get to know Novo mesto from a whole new perspective. You will be greeted by various characters, who will then introduce themselves, and describe the old part of town (Breg, the Capital Church, the Franciscan monastery) and the Krka River. The varied programme of entertainment will include music and the maverick from Dolenjska – cviček. The raft is also suitable for various celebrations, business events (catering provided), concerts, weddings, theatre plays, etc.

Otočec Castle and  Struga Castle

 Otočec Castle is situated on an island in the middle of the Krka River. Lying in shallow water, it is surrounded by dozens of tiny tufa outcrops and islets. The castle first entered the annals of history in 1252. Initially, it was owned by the Counts of Višnja gora, and then its ownership was passed on to the Counts of Andechs and the Babenbergs, then on to king Otokar, who gave it as a gift to the church of Freising. The castle was run by the church's own ministerials (knights of lower nobility), known either as Warth or Werder. The castle was owned by the Villander family during the first half of the 16th century; then in 1560, it was bought by Ivan Baron Lenkovič, the general of the "Vojna krajina" region. The ownership of the castle thereafter passed through the hands of various noble families, the last being the Counts of Marghera di Commadona, who were in possession of it until World War II.

The development of the castle structure remained unfinished until the Baroque period, with minor alterations still being carried out in the second half of the 19th century. At present, the castle incorporates rectangular fortress walls with circular-shaped defence towers and a rebuilt central defence tower above the entrance to the inner courtyard. The castle hall leans against the castle walls, partly reaching into the inner courtyard. The castle chapel used to stand in the courtyard wing and was later relocated to the western defence tower. In 1942, the castle was burnt down by the partisans. After the war the castle was renovated and converted into a hotel.

As a member of the elite International Association of Hotel Mansions, Otočec Castle can be placed among the world's top providers of high-quality tourism.

Struga Castle is situated on a terrace on the right bank of the Krka River, southeast of the settlement of Gumberk.

The original manor, first mentioned in 1449, was rebuilt into a castle by Karel Jurič in the 16th century. His family remained owners of the castle until the beginning of the 19th century when it became the property of the Knights of Fichtenau. The single-floor residential wing encloses the inner courtyard, while the east wing with its two rectangular towers served mainly as a means of defence.

With its uniform period style,  Struga castle is a fine example of typical 16th century castle architecture. On account of its commanding location by the Krka River, it ranks among the strategically important monuments of the Dolenjska region. Furthermore, the castle has cultural and historic significance, having also been mentioned in Ivan Tavčar's novel 'The Island and the Stream'.

A living history museum, which provides  visitors with a chance to experience history up close, was set up at the castle by the Svitar institute; the museum is open for pre-booked groups.  While the castle is being slowly renovated, it also offers additional fun activities: a lively tour of the castle, a demonstration of the kind of skills it takes to be a knight, archery, receptions, business gatherings, medieval and renaissance music, period weddings, period feasts and celebrations...

The Franciscan Monastery  and library

The Franciscan Monastery Novo mesto, with its more than 500-year history hidden in its bosom literary material that has accumulated over the centuries and covering different areas. The library is considered to be the oldest library in Novo mesto. Due to the cooperation of brothers in the high school professor's corps, the library has a rich material. The scope of the library is estimated at over 20,000 book units, one of which has a maximum value and importance more than 30 incunabula (firstprints). To visit is required prior notice. It is also possible interpretation in English and French.

The Dolenjska Museum and the Božidar Jakac Gallery

The Dolenjska Museum in Novo mesto, which was founded in 1950, is housed in a complex of several buildings between the Breg and the Capital Church. The visitor will have an opportunity to learn about the history of Dolenjska and Novo mesto through exhibitions and publications, films, museum workshops and other organized events. In addition to regular exhibitions (an archaeological exhibition, an ethnological exhibition, the national liberation struggle in Dolenjska and the Jakčev dom Gallery), the museum regularly offers a variety of temporary exhibitions that are for the most part connected with the history of Dolenjska.

Operating under the aegis of the Dolenjska Museum is the outstation of Jakčev dom, which is a monument to one of the most famous Slovenian painters and graphic artists, Božidar Jakac (1899–1989).

Visitors can explore temporary exhibitions as well as permanent displays:

Permanent Art Exhibition of the Dolenjska Museum

Collection of Works by Božidar Jakac

The Art Education Collection

The Old Town Centre

The old town centre, which is attractively sited on a rocky promontory in a hairpin bend of the Krka River, boasts an excellent main square, filled with arcade hallways on the ground floor of town houses. The old town is defined by the typically built Town Hall. It is also worth paying a visit to the St. Nicholas Church and the Franciscan Church as well as the Dolenjska Museum and Jakčev dom Gallery. If you take a look down at the river, you will see a reflection of a row of prominent houses situated on the Breg embankment – the most picturesque part of town, often depicted in paintings.

Vine-covered hillsides

The vine-covered hillsides dotted with innumerable vineyard cottages give the Dolenjska landscape its characteristic softness. They have been shaped by the hard-working people of Dolenjska, whose deep affection for the grapevine lasts from the cradle to the grave. That is why generation upon generation has been cultivating it with the utmost care and affection. The vineyards in Slovenia are not meant only as a means of producing wine (primarily cviček), they also signify an important cultural and social meeting point for people of all ages and groups, as well as being very popular among the recreational wine growers. The tops of vine-dotted hillsides are typically adorned with small picturesque churches.

Sited in the heart of the hillsides, in locations offering splendid views, are vineyard cottages that are unique not only in the region but in the world. It is where the idea for Tourism in Vineyard Cottages first began to take root all those years ago. The vineyard cottages, which were only shared with close friends until now, have now been opened to welcome tourists – guests who are thrilled about this unique tourist offer – arriving from all parts of the world. Therefore, the vineyard cottages are now becoming one of the main symbols of Dolenjska, along with archeology, the Krka River and cviček.

Information: TIC Novo mesto, Glavni trg 11, 8000 Novo mesto, +386 (0)7 39 39 263