Visitors to Slovenia will quickly realize that this country is filled with beautiful castles. Grad Castle is Slovenia’s largest Baroque castle. The impressive piece of Slovenian history is surrounded by a forest and marks the center of a whimsical and quiet fairytale village. The national park which houses this stunning castle has been a landmark for centuries. Grad Castle is a fantastic destination for tourists to Slovenia since visitors can walk around the interior rooms and explore while listening to legends of the Knights Templar, the most famous legend of which is about a dragon with a golden crown. The castle name itself is actually a touch ironic. The formal name, ‘Grad Grad’, means ‘castle castle’.
Enter the Premuje region of Slovenia to view a spectacular forest. Inside this forest, on the steep hills of basaltic tuff and above the Grad settlement, rests the historic Grad castle. With 365 total rooms, this is a huge castle. Renovations started in 1995, and the first floor of the castle has halls with different subjects, including an area featuring lovely ceramics, and another with a display of historic farming equipment and wagons.
Choose to stay the night in one of the comfortable rooms listed on Booking.com, or stop by for a visit and walk around to explore the unfinished areas of the castle. There are even local wine tastings available in the basement brick cellar. Here you can also purchase some lovely artisan ceramic cups or bowls for reasonable prices. Personally, I loved the cups I found with ceramic clusters of grapes sculpted on their sides.
No one is sure about when the castle was built, although the estimate is between the 11th and 13th centuries. The consensus is that the Knights Templar used archeological excavations to plan the erection of the castle during the 11th century, and then the castle was finished in its present form during the 18th and 19th centuries. During WW2, the castle was seriously damaged, but in 1995, much of the castle was restored. The mound in the center of the castle has a walkway lined with gardens that extend all the way to the second floor of the castle. This unique combination of nature and man-made structure become one to the eye, with trees and flowers thriving inside the spacious castle courtyard.
The castle grounds are fantastic for children. Obstacle courses are set in the forest outside the castle, historical events are held, and technical and science days which include the nearby Vulkanije Adventure Park. Events are welcome as well, including weddings, anniversaries, conferences, and popular concerts. You can spend the night at this lovely castle in one of their available guestrooms, or continue exploring the region after just an hour visit here.
The Dragon and the Golden Crown
In Slovenia, the dragon is the symbol of royalty and power, as well as thunder and fertility. The legend of the dragon with the golden crown is the story of Kaču the dragon who lived in Grad Castle. He enjoyed swimming in the pond in the valley, and when he went into the water to swim, he would leave his crown on the bank. One day, a servant’s son stole the crown and then ran back into the castle. The dragon followed after him, but the servants had built a net at the entrance of the castle. Kaču crashed into the iron net and burst into little pieces.
Find out more about the castle, including ticket sales on the Visit Pomurje site.
Wear good walking shoes for hiking some trails and walking along the lake nearby.
Try one of the restaurants nearby, or bring a picnic for the lovely little forest area.
There is a good amount of parking, but when there are concerts and events come early to find parking, otherwise the only other parking will be a ten-minute walk from the castle.