Gamberk (castle)

12th century

Gamberk castle is closely related to one of more important ministerial families of late Middle Ages - Galls. According to Valvasor the castle was built by Ortolf III. of Svibno already in 1040 and in 1074 - Valvasors references Schönleben as a source for this information - Oto of Svibno was named after this castle. Modern historians believe that it's not until second half of 12th century when Gall family has started to come from Bavaria to Carniola as ministerials of house of Andechs even if they did not reside here permanently until 1228. It is certain that it is not until the time of Henrik Andechs after 1223 when Konrad Gall establishes himself as an important knight in a circle of ministerials from Carniola. First indirect mentioning of the castle is from 1248 when it is referred to as Gallenberch but its typical design allows the castle to be built before year 1200.
In the 14th century Gamberk castle is stil a property of Gall-Gallenberg family even if they have moved their seat to a newly built Gallenstein castle near Podpeč south from Sava in Lower Carinthia already in the second half of 13th century and their other family branch moved to Rožek in Moravče. Gamberk at the time still controlled provincial court of law even though the castle itself began to lose its importance, but the have supposedly Galls lost the dominion in the same century. It is definite that the castle was owned by house of Šternberg at the beginning of 15th century and they have sold it to Habsburgs in 1443.
House of Habsburg was leasing the castle or giving it out to stewards. In 1461 the castle's steward was Konrad noble Apfaltrer and in 1546 the castle was in the hands of Franc noble Altenhaus. Two years later Ferdinand I. along with tithe on Trojane pawned the castle to Hans noble Rechberg for the sum of 5.500 fl., but already in 1553 the castle became a lien of Jakob noble Lamberg. With the consent of the emperor he extended medieval tower design into a luxurious Renaissance residence.
Gamberk remained as a property of Lambergs until 1630s and then in 1640 it was sold by its owner at the time Jurij Žiga count Paradeiser to Jernej - Bartolomej baron Valvasor, father of Slovene historiographer. He was in 1661 succeeded by Luenburg family and in 1677 Poor Clares order from ljubljana have bought the castle but sold it the same year to Gašper noble Lichtenturn.
According to Valvasor, Andrej Ksaverij baron Lichtenturn, son of Gašper, has repaired the castle very nicely and added quite a few things to it. Inside. The castle was in Lichtenturn's hands until 1769 after which some other owners followed, like Montanists between 1804 and 1830. In the middle of 19th century it was a property of mining share holders company which was using the castle as a vacation resort. After 1875 a few private owners followed until it was completely abandoned two decades later. But as we can see from a sketch by Hinko Kartin its surrounding walls were fifty years later still as high as projecting roof in the second floor.

Currently the castle is undergoing reconstruction works.

Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Grajske stavbe v osrednji Sloveniji - I. Gorenjska (Med Goričanami in Gamberkom), Viharnik, Ljubljana, 2000, ISBN 961-6057-23-5
Contact details:
Web links:
Prosvetno društvo Čemšenik
Turistično društvo Čemšenik
Shows and entertainment:
For events see site of tourist society Čemsenik at Castle event "Grajske Štorije" by Prosvetno društvo Čemšenik.
GPS coordinates:
N 46° 9.723' E 14° 58.06'


Pathway to the castle ruins is on the southern hillside
View from southeast
Tower integrated into the southern defence wall
Loop in south tower
Picturesque south side of defence wall with crenelations walled in
Gothic-Renaissance entrance to the castle complex
Groove for hinge on castle portal
Mill stone on the courtyard
Light hole in south defence wall
Ceiling consoles on the inside of southern tower
Inside of southeastern tower which was opened on the courtyard side
View towards ruins of Romanesque part of the castle through the courtyard from southeast
View of castle ruins from courtyard
View of ruins of eastern defence wall
Interior of northeaster tower
View of a part of west defence wall with courtyard
Western round turret where a chapel of Our dear lady was located
Light loops in Romanesque tower
Western wall of the tower
Tower is on its corner reinforced with buttress which was added at the later time
Northern wall of Romanesque residential tower with portal
Walled in Romanesque portal
Portal from inside
Romanesque slit in the tower
Putlog holes in northern part of western wall of residential tower
Walled in window in the wall
Probably chimney of a fire place located in the first floor?
Romanesque entrance into the garderobe in the second floor of residential tower
Turned over corner of Romanesque tower
View of northeastern tower from west
Northeastern turrets; in left smaller one a castle jail was supposedly located at the time of Valvasor
Eastern defence wall with tower
Far southeastern defence wall
View from the castle towards Trbovlje
Gamberk castle as viewed from the west; Valvasor, 1679
Gamberk castle as viewed from the south; Valvasor, 1679
Gamberk castle as viewed from the east; Valvasor, 1679
Gamberk on a postcard from the beginning of 20th century
H. Kartin, Gamberk castle, sketch in sketch book, 1907