Brestanica (Rajhenburg castle)

12th century

Rajhenburg in the older literature used to be mentioned as the oldest castle witnessed in documents in Styria. Document, in which the castle is mentioned as Reichenburch dates to 27th September 895 when king Arnulf donated in total ownership three kings farms next to Sava at Rajhenburg to his liegeman Valtun, was falsified later. Archdiocese of Salzburg didn't gain the ownership of the former territory of countess Hema Breško-Seliška until the 11th century (claims, Kos, 2005). Those who oppose this opinion claim that it was only a transcript of older original document which is also supposedly preserved. The research is still in progress.
At the time of Hungarian invasions into the valley of river Sava the castle was destroyed so Konrad I., archbishop of Salzburg, had several castles, among them also Rajhenburg, rebuild in the first third of the 12th century (Richenburch a novo edificavit). After consolidation after 1131 he had perhaps humble fort superstructured to a castle and populate it with ministerials. In 1141 the first known knight from Rajhenburg is mentioned, Otto de Richenbvrc and the castle is later many times mentiones as a fortress, for ex. in 1309 as castellum Reichenburch and in 1439 as vest Reychenburch in land Steyermark. In 1480 Friderik III. ordered his army to seize all estates belonging to archdiocese in Carinthia and Styria because he did not agree with election of new archbishop Bernard Rohr. Bernard asked for help with protecting the estates of Matija Korvin. In 1491 the truce was made in Bratislava and the castles remained in emperors posession. After death of Friderik III. in 1493 the archbishop at the time, Friderik V., got castles Sevnica and Rajhenburg back from emperor Maksimiljan but had to pay 18600 florints. Again the knights of Rajhenburg ruled the castle. So in 1523 Jurij of Rajhenburg rented sloss Reichenburg with appurtenant estates on both sides of Sava and the right of blood court.
In 1570 knights of Rajhenburg died out.Their heirs became Welzers who also took over old coat of arms of Rajhenburg. It was probably before 1600 when the castle went into the hands of Galla noble Gallenstein. Among various managers we find the following owners: in 1693 Vid Jakob baron noble Moscon, Leopold baron noble Curti, in 1696 count Hanibal Heister, between 1721 and 1802 counts Attems, until 1820 Alojz noble Mandelstein, until 1855 family Delena, followed by Sidonija Brzowska, between 1857 and 1874 count Eberhard Waldburg, between 1874 and 1881 Kristjan baron noble Esebeck, afterwards C. Girand and from 1884 on Trappist monks who rearranged the castle into a monastery. They remained the owners until the last war. At the war time it was a gathering centre for Slovenian exiles and a prison for women after the war. After 1968 the castle is turning into a museum. Today we can find the following exhibitions on the castle: exhibition about the history of the castle and the place named Brestanica over the time, exhibition about Trappist monks, exhibition about Slovenian exiles and exhibition about political prisoners and internes.

French monks - Trappists, the order of reformed Cisterians, the order which commanded very strict rules of monk life, total silence and a principle that anything you need for your life, do it yourself. Monks who populated the castle in 1881 directed the estate mainly into utilitary direction, because they had very developed agriculture, viticulture, fruit growing, they made cheese and castle's meierhof was used and added it the units for manufacturing chocolate Imperial and famous liqueur. The building of a chocolate factory is still preserved and is accessible by passing the cemetary to which once a tree avenue was leading, which does not exist anymore. In 1947 the Trappist order was abolished. By their doing Trappists erased the traces of ancient history by that much, that are only being discovered by systematic architecture-historian research.

Small tower which appears on before- and between- the war photos was a bell tower which was on the roof of the northern wing built by Trappists when they populated the castle. When at the time of World War II the aggressor forcibly removed monks from the castle, the tower was removed soon after that.
Attentive observer will notice thet a tower on a photo is very similar to the tower on Turn under the castle on Vischer's depiction.

Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Grajske stavbe v vzhodni Sloveniji - Med Kozjanskim in porečjem Save", Viharnik, Ljubljana, 1993, ISBN 961-6057-00-6
Simič, Mitja (in mag. Kolšek, Alenka): "Zgodovinski vrtovi Dolenjske in Posavja", Dolenjska založba, Novo mesto, 2000, ISBN 961-6297-40-6
Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Razvoj srednjeveške grajske arhitekture na slovenskem štajerskem", Slovenska matica Ljubljana, 1977
Kos, Dušan, Dr.: "Vitez in Grad", Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2005, ISBN 961-6500-82-1
Contact details:
Cesta izgnancev 3
8280 Brestanica

Tel: +386 (07) 497 15 68
Cell phone: +386 (31) 405 213

Home page:
Web links:
Brestanica - Rajhenburg castle (
Museum of recent history of Slovenia - BRESTANICA unit
Shows and entertainment:
Group of events named Poletje na gradu Rajhenburg (Summer on Rajhenburg castle): concerts of classical and other music

The castle is open: monday: for prearranged groups
tuesday-friday: 9.00 - 15.00
saturday and sunday: 11.00 - 15.00
For prearranged groups it is possible to visit outside of regular schedule.
A visit can be arranged by a phone: +386 (0)7 497 15 68 (Irena Fürst)
Entrance fee for a tour of very extensive museum: 2 EUR - students, pupils, soldiers | 3 EUR - others
GPS coordinates:
N 45° 59.361' E 15° 27.951'


As it is evident the roof was last renovated in 1989
Access road to a outer courtyard of the castle
View of outer courtyard and a part of the castle where once a Romanesque tower was located which is not preserved in its original height; the wall is 2,5 meters thick here
Southern wall
Eastern Romanesque wall (around 1 meter thick) with a row of 9 Romanesque windows which throw light on a great hall and two light loopholes beneath them
Northern wall on which a northern wing was leaned in the Gothic era
This extension on the photo is from modern times
North-western Gothic tower
Walled-up keyhole-shaped arrow loop in the wall of the tower
Wing, added to the castle on the west side; once a restaurant was located here; nowadays museum offices are here but in smaller part
Castle meierhof
Semicircularly formed, rustic Renaissance portal with coat of arms of Gallenstein family on its keystone
Figure on a lower side of keystone
Courtyard portal
Courtyard facade of southern wing
Courtyard is surrounded with two-storeyed residential wings which are vaulted in a ground floor and closed with full walls in the first floor
Frescoes balustrades from Renaissance era restored in the years 1976-1977 try to impress a visitor with a rich, divided architecture
Western wing is on its courtyard side exceptionally vaulted in the whole
Vaulted first floor of western wing
Renaissance windows
Ground floors are mostly vaulted in different styles; on a photo you can see grid-crested vaults in the southern ground floor
Behind this metal fence prisons (dungeons) were located at the war time
Covered top af late-Gothic pointed-style arch portal which is leading to the basement of the north-western tower
Ceiling of two-storeyd, cross-rib vaulted Gothic chapel which is located in north-eastern Romanesque tower
Romanesque-style shaped portal in the chapel
Remains of the columns of Romanesque part of the chapel which was divided into two equal poles
Frieze from cube-shaped chessboard on the corner of Romanesque apse in the chapel of Rajhenburg castle
Corridor in the second floor of southern wing
Staircase which connects the floors
In the first floor of northern wing next to the chapel is a room arranged for cultural and social meetings; on its walls we can find information about the history of the castle
Next room to the west if again dedicated to Slovene exiles
Far western room in the first floor of northern wing where frescos of master from Marija gradec from the beginning of the 16th century are still preserved
Dormer window in the corner
Noble's wives as allegory of two cardinal Christian virtues: FORTIVDO - Fortitude and TEMPORANCIA - Temperance (detail from fresco)
Detail of fresco
A room beside, where a well preserved wooden ceiling is visible (probably from Baroque era)
Part of the castle dedicated to life and work of Trappists; monk during the prayer
Mass coat in the glass case; in the next room we will find out more about the life of the monks and their activity
One of many rooms where a photographic and other material from the wartime is presented
West from the castle on an elevated plane a garden pavillion is standing in the middle of radially shaped decorative garden; conception of former park with gardens is seen in cadastral register of Franc I.
On the left remains of the cemetary are visible and in the front former chocolate factory which is pretty ravaged by now
Photos of the castle from the war time; I apologize due to bad quality of photographs
C. Reichert, Rajhenburg castle, colored lithography, around 1860
Brestanica with castles Rajhenburg and Turn on lithography from Old Kaiser's suite
Rajhenburg castle, G. M. Vischer, Topographia ducatus Stiriae, copper engraving, around 1681