Rifnik (castle)

13th century

Readers shoul be aware, that this article will be about Rifnik castle and not about classical antiquity excavation site Rifnik which is located in direct vicinity of the castle, south on the hill Rifnik. Castle Rifnik partially proves the claim that the castles were once build on locations which were allready fortified in the classical era or even earlier.

On a rocky elevation, south from an old settlement in the era of mature Middle Ages a new outpost grew, a medieval castle. It was first mentioned in year 1281. It was testified as property of Krško and is mentioned in the year 1326 as "vest Reichenekk". Older literature mentiones knights of Rifnik (first vassals of Krško, later vassals of Celje) which were here at the beginning of the 13th century; todays historians do not take them into account.

In 1326 Viljem of Vrbovec got ownership of tower of Rifnik by marriage with daughter of Leopold of Ploštajn. From year 1359 on the castle was owned by Counts of Celje. Martin II. went to work for Counts of Celje, which got the castle from bishops of Krško in 1400, and they gave it to Martin for lease. A daughter of Martin II. of Rifnik, Katarina Fürstenfelder, gained posession of multiple feudal estates, which in 1426 sold together with half of castle, that she inherited from her niece Beatrix, to Erazem Liechtenberger, castle manager for Counts of Celje. When Liechtenberger died, the estate was divided and the castle Rifnik with its estate went directly from bishop of Krško to Liechtenberger's sons. After the death of the last Liechtenberger, Franc, the castle was inherited by his relatives Sauraus and the remaining inheritance went to other hands. In the following century the castle estate became very fragmented and its biggest part was passed over to Blagovna at Šentjur. Claim, that castle was ravaged in 1635 by peasant revolt, is not documented. But it is correct, that the castle was desolated at least in the second half of 17th century, because its better part show uncovered in the image in Vischer's Topographia.
(Paragraph quoted from: Rifnik - Mladi posvojijo spomenik ("Rifnik: Youngs adopt a monument"))

Gothic concept of the castle, which was built by adding new components to older, probably romanesque castle core, has walls of the original height which is very rare amongst Slovenian castles these days. The core was composed of multi-storey residential tower and smaller pentagonal courtyard. As renaissance buildings were not as solid as medieval, we can hardly recognize their traces nowadays. Medieval core is still recognizible today in its fundamental features. With time the castle was prolonged, original courtyard was constructed early and later the castle and its inner ward were extended especially towards west. On the north side a steep, somewhere rocky cliff is located and on the south side a few meters high rocky wall is located which at the bottom meets grassy plane that extends all the way to Rifnik hill.

According to some sources, castle prisons were once located in the castle Rifnik, where they were holding rebelled peasants (subjects) and other convicts which were waiting for their further destiny.

Today the castle shows as a fortification of which essential components are formed of high, once defensive and residential towers that are connected to a solid whole by intermediate walls. Numerous original medieval architectural segments are still preserved today in the walls, like gothic portal in the second floor of the west tower, windows with tipical perietal seats, old light loops, etc. Right under top floors the towers were surrounded with outer wooden defensive corridor which has not preserved, and on the western tower putlog holes are still visible, in which once wooden corridor holders were sticked. Solid masonry technique enabled us a view to some alements on ruins of Rifnik, which cannot be seen anywhere else, because top parts of ruined castles are mostly demoslished.

Around gray walls a lot of tales are made, from the tale about a gold in the cellar of the Rifnik castle in three vats to the tales of malicious lords and leather footbridbe or a tunnel to nearby castle Ploštanj, where once supposedly lived a brother of Rifnik's lord, at first his friend, later his enemy. A lot of stories are of the Rifnik castle and its owners. Memory of them is slowly fading from peoples minds, but the ruins will be there for a long time.

A well marked road leads us from city Šentjur almost to the foot of the castle, which is finished at the crossroad to the castle and archaeological excavation site. A small parking space is also at the crossroad. A path through the private property of a farm, which is located right under the castle, will be walked by foot. Maybe some other forest way leads to the castle, but the castle core will hardly be accessible from any other direction than from south.

Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Gradovi na Slovenskem", Cankarjeva založba, 1987, ISBN 86-361-0280-4
Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Razvoj srednjeveške grajske arhitekture na slovenskem štajerskem", Slovenska matica Ljubljana, 1977
Rifnik - Mladi posvojijo spomenik
Contact details:
Web links:
http://obcina.sentjur.com (Municipality of Šentjur)
OŠ Franja Malgaja Šentjur (Project "Mladi posvojijo spomenik")
Shows and entertainment:
GPS coordinates:
N 46° 12.100' E 15° 24.176'


View of a castle from the south side
Eastern pentagonal castle
Ruin of the western defensive wall, maybe a tower
View from north-west direction
Chasm behind castle walls on the north side
Western tower
Western tower, wooden arches are visible
Light loop hole on south side of the western tower, height of the loop-hole proves, how deep a tower is filled up
Western tower, putlog holes are visible, which were once holding outer surrounding wooden corridor
View of eastern tower from a place between both towers
Eastern tower, up, on the second floor a gothic portal is visible
Inside of eastern tower
Chasm, visible through northern window in eastern tower
Top of pentagonal eastern tower
View of ruins from nort direction in the forest
Another view of a castle from northern elevation
From northern elevation
View of a pentagonal eastern tower from the meadow
Similar view
Meadow, clouds and ruins on the right
View of a castle from Rifnik hillside
Rifnik, G. M. Vischer, Topographia ducatus Stitiae, copper engraving from around 1681