Ribnica Castle

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Grad Ribnica
Škrabčev trg 40, SI-1310 Ribnica
Phone386 (0) 1 836 1104
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Managed byPublic Institute Ribnica Handicraft Centre
Polona Rigler Grm, Director of the Public Institute
Phone386 (0) 31 664 535
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Situated in the centre of the town of Ribnica some 50km to the south of Ljubljana, the Ribnica Castle actually denotes the well preserved remains of a much bigger castle burned down during the WWII. Still standing and thoroughly renovated are two of its defence towers and the (newly built) passage linking them together. While the towers are now hosting a museum and a wedding hall, the castle grounds also feature a garden called Park kulturnikov [Cultural Park], dedicated to those who contributed to the intellectual development of the region. The park is hosting a collection of sculptures created by renowned Slovene sculptors in the 1980s. An open air theatre and concert space is also part of the complex.

The castle and its surroundings are managed by the Museum of Ribnica (itself a part of the Public Institute Ribnica Handicraft Centre). The museum itself (most of its exhibitions anyway) is stationed in the castle.

Exhibitions and events at the castle

The museum in the castle holds three separate exhibitions. The first one presents the centuries-old tradition of cottage industry in Ribnica, focusing on wooden-ware and pottery. The second, smaller presentations shows and explains the wider history of the area. The third display is centred on the issue of witchcraft and on the infamous witch trials during the 16th to 18th centuries in Slovenia and Europe, thus elaborating on the fact that one of the last recorded witch trials in Slovenia was held in Ribnica.

Among other things, the garden annually hosts a festival of amateur theatres, is the place for the "Castle Evenings" concert series and sometimes hosts the International Music Festival Imago Slovenia.

Recent castle history

The present-day castle complex was renovated in years 1958–61, with the Mikl House Museum (now the Museum of Ribnica) established in 1958 and presenting its museum exhibitions to the public in 1961. After 1972 the castle was also hosting Petkova Galerija (the Mikl House Gallery of today), located there until 1988.The adjacent cafeteria was transformed into a wedding hall in 1978.

A park was opened on the castle grounds in 1982, honouring prominent personas from the area like the linguist Stanislav Škrabec, the cartographer Peter Kozler and the politician Janez Evangelist Krek. In the 1980s artist colonies began to be organised there and artists participated in some kind of a Forma Viva in the castle's park.

The castle history

The castle had a strategic position on the market trail towards the town of Kočevje and further down to the port of Rijeka (formerly Fiume) on the Adriatic sea. Written sources first testify about the existence of this castle, calling it Castrum Reuienz, in 1264. Around 1220 the castle was owned by the family of Auerspergs, who had got the castle from the Žovnek family as a dowry. In the middle of the 13th century the Ortenburg family divided the land among themselves. In the 15th century the Counts of Celje got the castle back based on the Žovnek family being their ancestors.

During the later dynastic struggles with the Habsburgs and upon the murder of the last Count of Celje, Ulrik II, in 1456, the Habsburg family acquired all of their possessions. Many owners changed hands from the 16th to 19th century: Lamberger, Moscon, Gall, Khisel families and the Counts of Kobenzl. The famous Renaissance composer Jacobus Gallus Carniolus was born there in 1550.

Eventually in the early 19th century the property passed to the Rudež family, its last private owners. It was sold to the Yugoslav Government in 1937 as a military base. For sometime during the Second World War the castle was used as a hospital but in 1944 it suffered the same sad fate as many other castles in this region; it was burned down so as to prevent the Germans for using it as a military base. The renovation of what was left started after the WWII, but a lack of funds brought the castle to ruin again.

See also

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