Municipality of Novo mesto covers a total area of 298 square kilometres and has a population of 41,000 people. One of 11 Slovene Urban Municipalities, it lies in the valley of the Krka river in the Dolenjska region, in south east Slovenia. Originally settled in Roman times, it took the name Rudolfswerd in 1365, after its founder Duke Rudolf IV of Austria. In subsequent centuries it grew into Novo mesto (‘New Town’), becoming the main administrative, cultural, religious and business centre of Dolenjska. In 1875 its citizens built their own Narodni dom ('National Hall'), the first cultural centre of its type in Slovenia. The ‘Novo mesto Spring’ is well known for its avant garde movements in the 1920s.
Novo mesto has developed co-operative links with the German town of Langenhagen (near Hanover) and the Catalan municipality of Vilafranco del Penedes in Spain. It also co-operates with Bihać in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Torun in Poland, Jixing in China and the cities of Leskovac, Herceg Novi and Vršac in Serbia and Montenegro.
Together with four other Slovene towns Novo mesto is a partner city in the Maribor, European Capital of Culture 2012 project.
The Social Activities Department of Novo mesto Urban Municipality is responsible for social and health care, education, sports and cultural activities, including cultural heritage preservation and amateur activities. The local branches of the Union of Cultural Societies of Slovenia (ZKDS) and the Public Fund for Cultural Activities of the Republic of Slovenia facilitate the activities of local cultural organisations and act as mediators in respect of state and municipal funding.
The town is also home to several national institutions, including the Historical Archives Ljubljana: Dolenjska and Bela Krajina Unit, Novo mesto, and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Novo mesto Regional Office. The Chapter Library and the Franciscan Archives and Library, Novo mesto are of particular note. The Janez Trdina Cultural Centre, Novo mesto is one of the town's most active venues.