Dobrna (snake castle)
Neuhaus, Schlangenburg

13th century

The first time the castle is explicitly mentioned is in 1275 as Domus noua apud s. Mariam, after that in 1296 as Nowenhovs, in 1332 as Newhaus, in 1335 as Newnhous, Newhaus, in 1387 as vest Newhaws bey Toefer, in 1388 as vest Newhaws and in 1428 as haws Newhaws. In 1346 Eberhard of Dobrna pawned his castle Dobrna to chapter of cathedral of Krško, who did not buy the castle because it is in posession of lords of Ptuj until 1438. When Franc of Dobrna died in 1605, the dominion with thermal springs went over to his sister Regina Putterer-Saurau and in 1613 it was sold to Gačnik family. On June 21st 1666, emperor Leopold I. raised castle's owher at the time, Janez Matija Gačnik, to nobility von und zu Schlangenberg auf Schlangenburg. From here the slovenian name for the castle is derived - "Kačji grad" - "snake castle". The name "Kačji grad" or "Kačnik" was in use only between 1643-1693 (last sentence, source: Wikipedia).

In 1769 the castle was bought by Franc Kavserij Avguštin baron of Dienersberg, but had to leave after three years because the castle started to collapse. Two years later baron of Dienersberg build mansion Dobrna in the valley.

Walls in the castle core testifies that the castle probably originates from before the time of first mentioning. In the central part of ruins some of gothic achitectural elements are preserved. Before the castle started falling apart, it had a great hall, a chapel, rich archive, cannons and armoury with antique weapons.
As well as an interesting history, the ruins of the castle were not studied either. Three original coat-of-arms exist, encarved in stone and white marble, which have the power of "talking coat-of-arms". One of these "talking coat-of-arms" has also "snake" encarved, and talks about a short period "Schlangenburg" (paragraph, source:Wikipedia).

Walking around the ruins can be dangerous in some parts. Snake castle holds some interesting elements in its architecture, which are not studied yet, and my modest professional knowledge is sadly not enough for their exact determination. Especially interesting is a triangular space, which originated when three walls were merged together, or at least it looks like that when looking at it. Also very interesting is a hole on the south side of castle core, and it extends all teh way to the bottom of the defence wall. It could be really unusual collapse of the wall, which shaped this canal. Vischer's image does not give enough answers to asked questions. It's really bad that the castle was not studied yet.

Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Grajske stavbe v vzhodni Sloveniji - Spodnja Savinjska dolina", Založba Park, Ljubljana, 1992, ISBN /
Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Razvoj srednjeveške grajske arhitekture na slovenskem štajerskem", Slovenska matica Ljubljana, 1977
Contact details:
Web links:
Dobrna - History
Shows and entertainment:
GPS coordinates:
N 46° 20.249' E 15° 12.571'


Preserved southern wall, visible from far away
View from east, a path is visible, where on Vischer's image tree avenue is drawn
Southern wall
Fence, which prevents the rocks from falling to the valley on to houses; here is where most likely the defence moat once was
Collapsed western wall on rocky foundations
Visible putlog holes in western wall, which most likely supported machicolation; west side of the castle is not visible on Vischer's depiction
View from north from where we can continue to castle ruins
Overthrown wall on the north side
North wall of central residential (solar) tower
Top of the ruins, view towards south
Romanesque window on the southern wall
Filled up window
Western wall
Romanesque window in western wall
Southern wall, joined to two others; lower image shows inside, what is visible through the formated opening
Junction of three walls, which form somekind of triangular space between; this is by all means an interesting example of construction, which I didn't yet see anywhere else
Northern wall of solar tower, the question is, how much longer will it stand upright
Far southern wall is at the height of several meters only about one meter thick
Hole in the width of southern wall, which leads to the bottom of the wall
Same hole, view upwards
Interesting construction on the east side of the ruins, which allows several decimeters wide space for ?
View towards Lokovina of Dobrna mansion
Ruins of the old castle Dobrna on a postcard from around 1900
G. M. Vischer, Dobrna castle from The book of castles, around 1681, outtake