Špitalič pri Slovenskih Konjicah 9, SI-3215 Loče
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The Carthusian Order is a Catholic order, founded in 1084, which chooses isolated locations since it is devoted to solitude and contemplation. In 1160, a group of Carthusians came from the French Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble to Konjice, making the Žiče Charterhouse the first Carthusian monastery in Central Europe. In 1165, it was affirmed by the authorities, Ottokar III of Styria, and his son, Duke Ottokar IV of Styria. At first, the monastic revenues were small, but after the 13th century, at the time of the Great Christian Schism, Žiče Chaterhouse became the seat of the Prior General of Carthusian Order and consequently, in the century that followed, a European cultural and political centre.
In the 16th century, at the time of peasant uprisings and Ottoman invasions, the monastery was attacked, which marked the beginning of its decline. In 1782, the Emperor Joseph II abolished it, as the contemplative monastic orders were no longer compatible with the Enlightenment reforms. In 1826, its ruins were bought by Prince Weriand of Windisch-Graetz and remained this family's property until the end of World War II. Today's owner is the Municipality of Slovenske Konjice.
The Žiče Charterhouse is a medieval monastery marked by typical gothic Carthusian architecture. The whole complex – walls with towers, both monasteries and the church – were built in this style.
The renovation work on the stone capitals in the Church of the Visitation (Ecclesia minor), the lower Romanesque church of the Žiče Charterhouse in Špitalič, place the church in the context of high-quality early Gothic architecture of Central Europe.
Since Carthusians devoted their lives to writing, copying and illuminating manuscripts, the monastery had a library with more than 2,000 volumes, mostly manuscripts, some of them displaying colourful painted initials and other illuminated elements, known as a distinctive Žiče style. Only a fraction of the library, about 120 manuscripts and 100 fragments, has survived.
An exceptional cultural monument is also the monastery's guest house, Gastruž Inn, erected in 1467 and still open today. In this guest house, the oldest not only on the Slovenian territory, but also one of the oldest active inns in Central Europe, you can still smell fragrant monastic dishes.
Because of the reconstruction work, the monastery – well-preserved parish church, the renovated upper monastery, the monastery cellar with a winery, the apothecary shop with old herbal remedies – is slowly becoming alive again. Since 2007, it houses the exhibition The Cultural Heritage of Žiče Charterhouse, prepared by Nataša Golob, an impressive museum collection and audio-viewing.
The summer months are enlivened by a range of gastronomic events, concerts, spectacular historical recreations, wine days and other events. From time to time, participants in spiritual retreats are welcomed within the renovated monastery walls.