Perched on a rocky prominence sixty metres above the confluence of the Brestanica stream and river Sava, Rajhenburg Castle has dominated the surrounding countryside for centuries. It was built between 1131 and 1147 by Archbishop Konrad of Salzburg, a powerful landowner. The oldest, Romanesque part of the building dates to this period. For centuries, the castle and its surrounding estate were managed by agents or ministeriales, who took the castlle’s name ‘Reichenburg’. The Reichenburgs were an influential family and received knighthood in the fifteenth century. After their line died out, their successors added contemporary elements to the building and so gradually lent it the appearance we can admire today. In 1881, Rajhenburg Castle was bought by Trappist monks and converted into a monastery. It remained active until April 1941, when the German authorities transformed the castle and its outbuildings into a deportation camp for Slovenes. In 1947, the Trappist order was dissolved and the castle nationalised. In June 1948, a penal and correctional facility for women was established there, which was later succeeded by other penal institutions. In 1968, an exhibition on Slovene deportees was established at the castle. Ever since, the structure has been predominately serving as a museum and an event venue.
After the denationalisation procedures concluded in 2004, the castle became the property of the Municipality of Krško. Today, the fully restored structure is managed by Kulturni Dom Krško, a local cultural institution. The castle’s visitors can attend various events (concerts, plays, lectures, etc.), and learn about the history of the castle, town, and its wider area at permanent and temporary exhibitions. As they stroll through the building, they gain insight into the castle's architectural development in the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods up until present day. There are two chapels in the castle complex: the original twelfth-century Romanesque chapel and the later, Gothic chapel, which was added in the sixteenth century. The Renaissance residential area boasts a magnificent hall and terminates in a room decorated with lavish frescoes. The museum installations at the National Museum of Contemporary History offer an insight into the history of the Trappist monks, the fate of Slovene deportees, and the period when the castle was home to various penal institutions. The visitors can also see castle furniture from the collections of the National Museum of Slovenia. Late nineteenth-century Brestanica townscapes the and scenes illustrating various aspects of local life are represented in a series old postcards on display. Also on display at the castle, are the gold medals won at the Olympic Games and world championships by hammer thrower Primož Kozmus, Brestanica's most famous athlete. Academic painter Jože Ciuha’s works decorate the walls of the Renaissance hall. Art exhibitions are also held in the Great Hall, which is notable for its four-paned Gothic window featuring a stone cross. Since Rajhenburg Castle is among the most significant medieval castle architectural monuments in Slovenia, we place special emphasis on the building's architectural history.
In 2014, a herb garden was established on the carefully laid-out castle grounds. This element of Trappist heritage is further revived through cultural and tourism events such as the Rajhenburg Chocolate and Liqueurs Day and the Rajhenburg Sparkling Wine and Cheese Day. A wine gallery operates in the castle cellar, while the museum shop provides exhibition catalogues and numerous local products including local chocolate from Brestanica. The castle café serves coffee and excellent pastries. With its picturesque setting, the fully restored castle also makes a wonderful wedding venue. Its contemporary fittings ensure that the entire building is also accessible to visitors with reduced mobility.
The renovation of the castle building conducted between 2010 and 2012 was financed through the Operational Programme for Strengthening Regional Development Potentials 2007–2013 as part of the ‘Networking of Cultural Potentials’ priority within the ‘Integration of Natural and Cultural Potentials’ priority axis.
Dr Helena Rožman
Kulturni dom Krško / The Krško Culture House