Velenje (castle)

13th century

Velenje castle is one of the most beautifully preserved castles in Slovenia. It was constructed late but in any case later than borough with the same name. Its residents were not mentioned until 1264, some of them formally as boroughers (Gebhardus civis de Weln, ..., Reynherus civis de Weln) along with the knights from the nearby Turn (Oto, Henrik, Gundaker, Albero in Günther) and with some of true (old-Velenje) boroughers. Some of the named persons (Gundaker, Albero, Günther) were probably castellans of Velenje. This is confirmed by a document from 1270 (Kos, according to Stopar in 1275), when Gundaker was named after Velenje - Gundachero de Welen; thus this year designates the first indirect mentioning of the castle. Because Gundaker was present at the time of issuing the document on Kunšperk it is clear that Velenje was a property of lords of Kunšperk from the beginning and Gundaker was closest relative of knights of Kunšperks (subjects).
In 1323 Friderik from Kunšperk pawned alodial castles Stopnik and Velenje to his relatives Herdegn and Friderik from Ptuj and also sold them the castles in 1325. In 1362 Friderik of Ptuj handed over the fortification Velenje - vest Wele - as fathers heritage to duke Rudolf and received it back in lease but it became a property of Ptuj again after Rudolf's death. As dowry of Ana of Ptuj the castle became a property of Hans of Liechtensteins. When he went into dispute with lords of Celje count Herman took the casle away and returned it only after arbitration by duke Albreht III. By marriage of some lady of Liechenstein the castle became the property of Friderik of Stunberg. In 1437 it was owned by his granddaughter Kreszenza, wife of Konrad from Kraig and her brother Hans, and the castle was managed by Jošt from Turn. Between the years 1477 and 1501 it was a property of Žiga of Liechetnberg, the last of his descent who in 1537 donated the castle along with its belongings to a son of Erazem Wagen from Liechtenberg near Litija, Hans Wagen of Wagensberg and in 1544 he registered it to his wife Helena, daughter of Felicijan noble Petschach for a transfered dowry of 2.000 goldinars. After the death of Hans Wagen in 1553 his son Balthasar - Boltežar, took over the estate together with the castle and later Hans' grandson Hans Žiga who sold the dominion in 1558 to Boltežar Herič from Turn and Pakenštajn and he already in 1603 exchanged it for some other estates with Hans Ludovik Sauer from Kozjak. Sauers remained in posession of the castle and the dominion until 1797 and are followed by Gabriel Pauer, in 1829 Edvard Trigler, Hubert count d'Harnoncourt-Unverzagt between 1851 and 1858, in 1858 Karl noble Adamovich, and in 1918 the castle was bought by count Coronnini-Kromberk and used it as a summer residence until 1943. After World War II the castle became a part of general public property . Appartments were arranged inside the castle and a lot of interior equipment was destroyed and the building was on a verge of a ruin. In 1957 Velenje coal mine arranged a Museum of Slovene coal mines in the castle. Gradually collections were arranged and at the same time intensive restoration of the building has began.

A museum with ten permanent museum and gallery collection resides on Velenje castle: - collection of remains of mastodon
- Šalek valley between 10th and 17th century
- collection of African art by František Foit
- reconstruction of an old store with mixed goods
- reconstruction of old pub
- #When Velenje was becoming a city"
- Šalek valley between 1941 and 1945
- collection of Baroque art from the church of St.Jurij from Škale
- gallery of Lojze Perko
- collection of modern Slovene art Gorenje

Department dedicated to Slovenian cole-mining is not on the castle anymore. Close to the north-western tower a cole-mining railway carriage was once located. For more information about museum and gallery collections visit a website of Velenje museum.

Architectural history of the castle is known in its fundamental outline. Original castle had irregular ground plan design with smaller turret in north-western corner and probably soon after - if not at the same time - constructed narrow palatium at south part of walled courtyard. Castle in this form was built in the mid 13th century and following periods are marked by a succesive construction on the available areas inside of enclosed space. More important construction of the era is a construction of a strong circular defence tower on a south-western corner of the castle design which is dated to late-Gothic era. In the beginning of the 16th century a new wing was leaned to the defence wall on the east side and with this wing also embraced northern part of the original design; by doing this a part of northern courtyard defence wall was toren down and a staicase shift was created by a new wing, from then on an entrance to the inside of the castle. In the era of mature Renaissance roughly defined by the year 1558 on th entrance portal a castle gained its present form in its basic outline. Both basements in the west wing of the castle core were vaulted, courtyard was equiped with arcades, outer defence walls on north-western side was moved outwards, reinforced with two turrets and an imposing roundel. Later reconstructions were mostly limited to adaptation of individual architectural elements, above all windows and doors, to any taste. Years ago a hunger shaft was walled in in the basement of the northern residential wing.

Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Grajske stavbe v vzhodni Sloveniji - Med Solčavskim in Kobanskim", Viharnik, Ljubljana, 1993, ISBN /
MUZEJ Velenje - Stalne muzejske in galerijske zbirke (letak)
Šaleška dolina med romaniko in barokom : katalog razstave, Muzej Velenje, 1998
Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: Velenjski grad / 46. zvezek zbirke vodnikov Kulturni in naravni spomeniki Slovenije, Zavod za spomeniško varstvo Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1974, ISBN /
Contact details:
Muzej Velenje
Ljubljanska 54
3320 Velenje
Phone +386 (0)3 898 26 30
Fax +386 (0)3 898 26 40
Web links:
Velenje museum
Municipality of Velenje - Castles
Velenje castle (
Shows and entertainment:
Events on Velenje castle, in 2000 a medi-aeval day was arranged but there is no intention to repeat any events
GPS coordinates:
N 46° 21.410' E 15° 6.604'


View from north-west direction
Castle can be approached by the road from this south side or by foot by staircase from the eastern side
Eastern turret is located on a south side of castle design
In the year 1991 reconstructed portal with the year 1558, which dates the modernisation of defence walls and its reinforcement with south-east roundel and both circular turrets
Light loophole in the turret
Residential wing (house) is leaned against the outer side of southern defence wall, next to the entrance tower
South defence wall on which residential wing is leaned against
South-eastern roundel
Roundel in its attic storey supported by console wreath still has original in undisturbed form preserved defence system defined by a sequence of loopholes and holes for pouring hot oil
Keyshaped loophole can be found in the ground floor of the roundel on its west side
Renaissance defence wall with semi-tower reinforced by buttresses; on older depictions semi-towers are still roofed
Interesting profile of keyshaped loophole is embedded into northern semi-tower but it is probably there only as an ornament
North-western "chopped" tower in which in 1660 a chapel was arranged and nowadays a collection of sacral Baroque art resides in the tower; in the lower part a prolongated arrow-loop is visible
Year 1660 is carved into a chapel portal
Loophole located in the basement storey
Northern wing
Western semi-tower
Outer courtyard, to which a path is leading through the entrance tower and is then going spirally around the castle and in the end finishes with portal, leading to the north side
Portal which connects "lower" and "upper" outer courtyard
Castle is connected to its inner ward by a wooden passage above a moat, which was constructed in th 19th century
"Upper" plateau of outer courtyard on the south side, to which a passage is leading
Southern facade of the castle is decorated with Renaissance windows
Imposing late-Gothic circular defence tower on the south-western corner of castle
Stairs which replaced a wooden bridge in the 19th century lead into the inner castle
Portal is made of stone, semicircularly concluded with old forged doorposts
Renaissance double console with a small shield
An opening in the middle of the door for allowing people to enter and exit, so the big iron door woldn't have to be constantly opened.
Semicircular gothic portal with skimmed edges which leads to a ground-floor basement rooms of western wing
Late-Gothic portal with synchronic door-posts in the ground floor of north wing of castle core
Internal well (south from the castle we'll encounter an outer well, supposedly 55 meters deep)
Heraldic plate embedded into south, only wall of the courtyard without arcades which dates the last more significant castle reconstruction in 1858
Vaulted corridor in the floor of the northern wing
South-eastern part of inner courtyard
Portal in the south wing
Behind this entrance (access is possible from the other side) a reconstruction of an old pub is located, equiped with many original furniture elements
Museum and gallery collections: collection of african art of František Foit
African collection - masks
Collection of Slovenian contemporary art
Parts of original entrance portal which was embedded into inside of the second floor of western wing in 1991, at the time of setting up its reconstruction
Tombstone of Uršula Rosina Raumschüssel, née Wernek (church of St.Andrej, Šalek, 16th August, 1626)
Plate of Tomaž Hren, bishop of Ljubljana; rectory parish church of St.Jurij Škale (1607)
Original paintings from the first half of 16th century (Švarcenštajn castle)
One of the paintings
Reconstruction of the portal from 1490 (year is carved into keystone); Sacristy of parish church of St.Mihael in Družmir (church is demolished); portal is a property of Zvone čebula, Šoštanj
Late-Gothic chest in alpine style (Turn castle)
Glazed tile (Švarcenštajn castle, 16th century)
Goblet on a foot, decorated with prints of four different seals, influx is rolled in, it is made on a foot-turned spindle, ochre baked clay (Šalek castle, 15th century)
Arrow points (Šalek castle and Kacenštajn castle, 12th - 15th century)
Reconstructed romanesque presbiterium
Reconstructed stone altar of St.Jošt from Paški Kozjak from year 1676; central statue (St.Jošt) is fro late-Gothic period
Glass case in a collection "When Velenje was becoming a city" (period between 1945 and 1960 is presented); considerable emphasis is on Josip Broz Tito because still nowadays some of us remember that Velenje once had a prefix "Titivo" ("Tito's")
View of Velenje city from the castle (Šalek castle is visible in the background)
Velenje with castle in the background from around 1954
Another image roughly from the same time period
Velenje castle on colored lithography by C. Reichert from around the year 1860 (outtake)
Carl Goedel, Velenje castle, colored lithography from around 1860, Gradz, private collection
Velenje borough and castle above (archive of Velenje museum, author unknown)
Velenje castle, G. M. Vischer, Topographia Ducatus Stiriae, 1681; copper engraver of this depiction was A. Trost
Velenje castle, G. M. Vischer, Topographia Ducatus Stiriae, 1681
Velenje castle in the mid 19th century; lithography from Puiff's book Wegweiser in sämtliche Gesundbrunnen und Bäder der Steiermark, 1854