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Otočec Castle

As the only water castle which survived in Slovenia until today, the Otočec Castle is considered to be one of the most popular places to relax in the Lower Carniola. During its long history, the Otočec stronghold served as a defensive building of famous knightly families and a luxury seat of aristocratic houses, so it experienced numerous wars and painful war-related wounds. Today, the castle perfectly fulfils its role as a popular hotel, combining a unique romantic atmosphere of the past periods with the comfort of present days. A picturesque small island, where, on its shores, this old stronghold has been looking at the water of the Krka River for many centuries, is now a heavenly spot for those who appreciate not only the Baroque and Renaissance architecture but also love the beauty of nature. This wonderful building enjoys great popularity among newly-wed couples who wish to change their wedding ceremony into an unforgettable and fabulous performance in a knightly atmosphere.

History of the Otočec Castle

Accurate data on when exactly this castle was built on the shores of the Krka River did not survive. It is also unknown who its first owner was. Most likely, the castle was built in the 11th or 12th century, after the bishops from Freising set up their seat in the town of Škofja Loka in 973 and started to construct fortifications at the border of their lands. A written note about the Otočec Castle appears in documents from 1252, where it is listed as a property of the De Verdes – an aristocratic family, members of the Otoks – a knightly family, liegemen of the bishops of Freising. At that time, the first reconstruction of the castle was made. It set a transformation in the building's architecture from the Roman style into the Gothic style.

After a century, the two-storey rectangular structure, practically not protected, typical for medieval stone castles à la manor house, was redeveloped in the mid-14th century. The building was extended by constructing a new wing and fortified by a defensive wall and earthen ramparts. In that period, another important element was added to the defensive system of the castle – a southern canal of the Krka River was dug. As a result, the castle, once located on the shore, was transformed into a building on an island. Most probably, this characteristic resulted in a nickname for knights and the name of the castle, since «otok» means «an island» in Slovenian. (more)

What can you see there?

Since the internal and external appearance of this castle had been changed many times during redevelopments and reconstructions, little was left from its original interior and the front. Nonetheless, some architectural elements survived so when you visit the castle it is worth paying particular attention to them. The sandstone entry gate built in the 16th century definitely belongs to such historic elements. It was decorated with two Renaissance marble medallions presenting subtle profiles of girls. In the internal courtyard, a part of a medieval painting dedicated to hunting and fishing remained on one of the pillars of the main building. Late Gothic gates and stone window frames with characteristic rectangular pilasters survived in some facilities of the castle.

A winter park à la English landscape park was established on the island at the turn of the 19th century, during a reconstruction in the 1950s new tree species were planted there. Among them, there are not only well-known alder trees but also exotic trees such as bald cypresses, tulip trees, cigar trees, honey locusts and many other species. In the park, you can see beautiful white mute swans which have nested near the Otočec Castle for several decades. Fishing enthusiasts will have a lot of fun at the Krka River whose water washes the shores of the castle island. The river swarms with various species of fish, the roach and huchen are the most popular. Those who love active leisure will definitely enjoy refreshing rafting or a quiet boat trip downstream, where the current is much weaker. In the near vicinity of the castle, there is a golf course that is famous for its biggest area in Slovenia and wonderful landscapes. It is perfect both for novices and professionals. You can forget about everyday hardships and relax in thermal swimming pools and SPA centres located in famous health resorts in the Lower Carniola such as Šmarješke Toplice or Doleńskie Toplice.

Today in castle you can get celebrity treatment with world-class service at Hotel Grad Otočec - part of Relais & Châteaux, and Chaîne des Rôtisseurs