Slovenska Bistrica Castle


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Grad Slovenska Bistrica
Grajska 11, SI-2310 Slovenska Bistrica
Phone386 (0) 2 805 5350
Fax386 (0) 2 805 5351
Managed bySlovenska Bistrica Cultural Institute
Herta Žagar, Director
Online accounts:

Slovenska Bistrica Castle 2014 01.JPG

The Slovenska Bistrica Castle, first mentioned in 1313 as Burk Feistritz, stands in the old centre of Slovenska Bistrica town and is closely bound with the history of the town's development. To the west of the castle extends a park, originating from the 16th century. Both the castle and the park have been declared a cultural monument of state importance. Today the castle houses a museum with several collections and serves as the Slovenska Bistrica cultural centre.


In the 14th century the castle was owned by the Habsburgs; subsequent owners included the Walsees (from 1355) and the Counts of Celje (from 1368); when the latter died out in 1456 the castle once again reverted to the Habsburgs, this time represented by the Duchy of Styria. In 1587 it was bought by Hans Vetter, who was succeeded before 1681 by the Wildensteins and in 1717 by Ignaz Maria Attems. The Attems remained in possession of the castle until 1945. After World War II, Slovenska Bistrica Castle was nationalised and adapted for housing purposes until 1985, when its restoration as a historic monument begin.

The castle was thoroughly rebuilt by the Vetters between 1623 and 1651, when it achieved its present Renaissance plan. The inner courtyard of a slightly trapezoid form is surrounded by four wings with towers in the corners. Towards the end of the 17th century the Wildensteins laid out a castle park with a 200 metre-long beech avenue and park statuary. The Baroque rebuilding by the Attems was concluded in 1721 with the Illusionist painting of the Chapel, stairway and Knights' Hall by Franz Ignaty Flurer – these are the only signed paintings by him in the Slovene territory. At the same time they are his best and most extensive work and also the only preserved in castles in Styria with his signature. The Knights' Hall is dedicated to Apotheosis of Hercules (the adoption to the gods). His myth is a popular motif in the Baroque illusionist painting. All four walls are painted with rich architecture, numerous figures and a wide range of ornamentation. The Chapel, fully painted by Flurer as well, is dedicated to Mary.


The castle is managed by the Slovenska Bistrica Cultural Institute. Beside the numerous permanent exhibitions it houses various cultural events, including the Old Bistrica Evenings in the inner courtyard in June and the Festive Castle Town in the central yard in December. Concerts, dance and theatre performances, lectures, book presentations as well as various temporary exhibitions (art works, photographs, ceramics, and small plastics exhibitions in the gallery and the exhibition grounds of Grasl's Tower) are held inside, in the courtyards, and in the park. The Wedding Hall is dedicated mainly to weddings.


The castle's extensive museum collection was initially set up in 1985 and has since expanded to the point that it now occupies most of the castle's premises. The core of the collection consists of 14 standards belonging to Slovenska Bistrica branches of the Union of the Associations of National Liberation War Veterans, the oldest of which is a pre-war Yugoslav flag. The banners and the flags are on display in the Banner Room.

The Roman exhibition, set up in cooperation with the Maribor Regional Museum, presents the Roman road from Celeia to Poetovio, while the Pajtler exhibition presents about 1,600 out of 13,600 specimens of fossils and minerals collected by Franc Pajtler from Pragersko, one of the biggest collections in Slovenia. Part of the exhibition presents the Mikl Vojsko collection, which Pajtler was donated by Mikl.

The Arko ethnological collection presents over 4,000 items from Slovenska Bistrica and Pohorje collected by Miljutin Arko, covering ceramics, cottage industries such as cheese making, weaving, smithing and joinery, farm furnishings and equipment, and hunting gear.

A Memorial Room to Pohorje fairy-tale writer Jože Tomažič (1906–1970) was opened in 1991 to present the environment in which he got ideas for his writing. Together with Tomažič is presented Jože Beránek, who illustrated the writer's books.

A Memorial Room to Spodnja Polskava-born writer Anton Ingolič (1907–1992) was established in 1992. It presents the life and work of the writer through his manuscripts, original furniture, and a 2,500-unit library, donated by the author.

In 1994 a permanent exhibition of over 90 different religious books was established; this collection comprises over 450 specimens and is a rarity in the Balkan Peninsula area. It focuses on prayer-books in Slovenian but also includes religious books in German and other languages, the oldest dating from 1708, donated by Zmago Jeličič Plemeniti.

In 1998 an exhibition of 36 specimens of rocks was organised, depicting the geological structure of the Pohorje region. A special item in this collection is cizlakite, a green stone found in the settlement of Cezlak in the Oplotnica Valley in the Municipality of Slovenska Bistrica. The settlement was named after the stone, which is unique in Europe.

Also in 1998, a permanent exhibition of wines from Slovenska Bistrica was opened on the ground floor of the castle. Different sorts of wine and samples are provided by 12 leading wine-growers from the region, and there is also a display of wine glasses, some of which were produced by Pohorje glassworks.

The round tower houses an exhibition The Oil Lamps throughout Time where 56 various oil lamps are displayed from the Roman to the modern-shaped in the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition was set up in cooperation with Franc Pajtler, glassworks Luminos Slovenska Bistrica, and the Celje Regional Museum.

The Collection of Dolls Dressed in Typical Costumes of the World was donated by Zora Tomič. In the collection are over 280 samples of puppets and souvenirs as well as UNICEF plates, which have been collected from 43 states all over the world.

The archaeological exhibition of Ančnik's ancient fort in Jurišna vas on Pohorje presents a 4th-century late Roman settlement and its development in the 6th and the 7th century.


The castle stands at the north-western corner of Slovenska Bistrica historical centre, which was surrounded by city walls, preserved almost intact until World War II. The castle's tower was part of the walls, while the other defending structure was the south-western tower, called Grasl or Grain or Gunpowder Tower. Beside both towers, some fragments of the walls are still preserved as well as a water ditch at the castle.

The park at the west side was originally designed by Vetters in the second half of the 16th century in French geometric style, which has been overgrown in times. Only a 200-metre-long beech avenue remained of the original 85 metres by 240 meters big plan. Today's park is only a tiny part of the historic one and is redesigned in English style. It is separated from the castle by a street. The rest of the former park area is built with health centre, primary school, gym, and a new road link.

The standing statues of Mercury and Hercules and a bust of the Four Seasons from the late 17th century used to stand in the park, but are now preserved in Slovenska Bistrica Castle. Both the remnants of the circumferential wall with a powerful portal and the park were restored in the 1990s.

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