Celje, Celje Castle

The oldest mention of Celje Castle comes from the year 1322 "purch Cylie", but later it was mentioned under the names "vest Cili" (1341), "castrum Cilie" (1451), "gsloss Obercili" (1468), etc. It is characteristic that the name "Obercili" - Upper Celje appeared only after the extinction of the family of the Counts of Celje. It was originally called Celje Castle.

The original castle building (Romanesque castellated castle) was built in the first half of the 13th century by the Counts of Vovbrški from Carinthia on the western rock mound of the castle ridge. It had the character of an irregular perimeter castle. In the floor plan, it had the shape of a pentagon, or rather a quadrilateral with a broken southern side, which adapted to the terrain. The first records of the castle date from 1125 to 1137; probably built by the border Count Gunter. In the western part, there was a multi-storey building, a palace, of which parts of the surrounding walls have been preserved. In the eastern part, there was a closed courtyard with a large water reservoir. On the eastern, most exposed side, there was a wall shield, about 3 m higher than the rest of the surrounding walls. At the top, it was protected by a hurda, a defensive corridor. In this form, it represented a typical ministerial castle of that time.


Castle owned by Žovneški and Celjski

The original castle probably burned down and collapsed during the fighting between the Žovneški lords and the Aufensteins. The entrance to the castle was arranged by the freemen of Žovne from the north side. Before the year 1300, a new ring of walls was added to the castle and it was strengthened on the northern side with a defensive tower, which protected the entrance to the interior of the castle core. The walls extended from the natural rampart in the east to the chasm walls in the northeast. The entrance was moved to the south side, where it is still today.

After the extinction of their family in 1334, the castle passed into the hands of the lords of Žovne, from 1341 to the counts of Celje, and from 1436 to the Dukes of Celje. The Counts of Celjski began to transform the fort into a more comfortable residence and official residence. Around 1400, a four-story defensive tower was added and later called Frederick's Tower (bergfrid). On the eastern side of the courtyard was a large three-story residential tower, which is the best-preserved part of the castle after Frederick's Tower. In the western part there was a real residential building (palas). There were places for women (kamenate). This part ended at a narrow pre-building and is poorly preserved. Andrew's Tower was added to the palace on the south side. It had a chapel of St. Andrew in the upper level. The castle could not be captured with medieval weapons, it could only be starved, although there was a hidden passage leading from the castle to the granary. By this time, the Counts of Celje had already stopped staying at the castle and had a building official (castellan), the commander of the castle with an armed retinue.

During the earthquake of 1348, a part of the Romanesque palace collapsed with a cliff. The demolished part was rebuilt and moved towards the interior of the courtyard. In the 15th century, they extended the suburbs on the eastern side of the ridge all the way to the rock pile. Here the walls connected with a strong pentagonal defensive tower. In the second half of the 16th century, the castle underwent another reconstruction. The defensive walls were raised in the core as well as in the suburbs. They also arranged the inner courtyard. The modernized part of the walls was equipped with Renaissance shooting ropes.


Gornje Celje Castle during the Holy Roman Empire

In 1461, Kristof pl became the first imperial steward. Ungnad, and the second in 1463 Jurij pl. Apfaltrer. In 1470, the Old Castle was taken over by Andrej pl. Hohenwart. Upon taking over, he promised to take good care of the castle and maintain it. He performed this job until his death in 1503. He was followed as the head of the castle by Jakob pl. Landau, otherwise the ruler's administrator in Upper and Lower Swabia. He received the headship from Emperor Maximilian I, then still the German king, in 1506, as Landau lent him 10,000 guilders.

In 1514, Landau was still the head. Two years later, in 1516, Bernard Raunacher was the temporary head. The emperor ordered him to immediately hand over the Celje principality to Gašper Herbst and be content with enjoying the income of New Town (Rudolfswert). Later, others followed him. Most of the heads performed the duties of vice-dom and caretaker of the estate. Soon the role of the castle became less and less defensive and more and more economic.

At that time, Gornjecel Castle was the most important castle not only in Slovenia, but in the entire Eastern Alps. The entire castle had an area of approximately 5,500 m². A more complete picture of the castle can be obtained from the current ruins and from the preserved depictions. Its architectural development established some solutions that were inspired by many castles in the territories where the influence of Celje stars reached.

The castle began to fall into disrepair shortly after it lost its strategic importance. At the end of the 17th century, there was no longer a roof on the Frideric tower. It is no longer there even in Vischer's depiction of the castle from 1681. During the renovation of the lower (city) castle in 1748, the roof bricks were removed. In 1755, Count Gaisruck bought the castle and took down the roof. He used the most beautiful stones to build the Novo Celje manor between Petrovče and Žalec. Therefore, it was no longer possible to live in the castle. The castle was turning into a real ruin. The last inhabitants lived there in 1795.

At the beginning of the 19th century, in 1803, farmer Andrej Gorišek bought the castle and began using the castle stones for a quarry.


19th and 20th century

In 1846, the Styrian governor Count Wickenburg bought the ruins and gave them to the Styrian Land Estates. The Beautification Society became interested in the ruins in 1871. In 1882, the Celje Museum Society began efforts to restore the castle, which is still ongoing. During the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Maribor authorities left the ruins to the city municipality. At that time, the municipality did a lot to preserve it. During World War II, the ruins were abandoned. After the war, the Beautification Society continued with the renovation. Cement blocks were installed in the corners of Frederik's Tower to replace the looted stones. A suitable parking lot has also been arranged in front of the entrance. On the north side, the association broke through the walls and made a new side entrance, where the new Pelikan path ends.


21st century

In recent years, the castle has been taking on its original appearance, even from afar. Perhaps better times are ahead for the castle, contrary to the well-known catchphrase "Today, the Counts of Celje and never again." In the late summer, the Celje Tourist Association organizes the annual event "Under the stars of Celjans" at the castle, where performances and demonstrations of medieval life take place. They also organized some music concerts (Laibach). The castle is an important tourist spot in Slovenia. It is visited by approximately 60,000 visitors a year. Veronica's evenings, an entertainment and cultural event named after Veronika Celjska, are held every year at the castle. Veronika's evenings include various concerts, theater plays and other events, and every year the organizer, in cooperation with the Municipality of Celje, awards Veronika's awards for the best poetry and the Gold Medal of Poetry. Veronika's evenings have been held for thirteen years, and the Veronika Award has been awarded for the thirteenth time, as well as the Gold Medal of Poetry for the fifth time.

In July 2016, the musical Veronika Deseniška premiered at the Old Castle, which was seen by more than 10,000 people and, due to great interest, will be staged again every next July.


TIC Old Castle
Cesta na Grad 78, SI-3000 Celje

T: +386 3 544 36 90
E: info@visitcelje.eu

W: https://www.visitcelje.eu/sl/izdelek/ogledi-starega-gradu-celje/