Perched on a 60-metre promontory overlooking the confluence of the Brestanica Stream and the River Sava, Rajhenburg Castle (Grad Rajhenburg in Slovene), considered one of the most important monuments of medieval castle architecture in Slovenia, has for centuries kept watch over the surrounding area. It was the first castle to have been built in the territory of the relatively vast South Styrian lands belonging to the Salzburg Archbishopric, initially constructed between 1131 and 1147 under Archbishop Conrad the 1st; the oldest Romanesque part attesting to this fact. The castle and the belonging estate were for centuries managed by legates who took the name of the castle – Rajhenburg (‘Reichenburg’ in German). After the family died out in 1570, their successors began adding contemporary elements to the structures and gradually created what we can admire today. In 1881, the Castle and the land belonging to it were purchased by the Trappist monks and converted it into a monastery, which remained active without interruption until the War in 1941, when the occupying German forces used in to set up a camp for the expulsion of Slovenes. After a relatively short restoration period, the new government nationalised and confiscated the Castle and its estate in 1947. A year later, the main Castle building was converted into a correctional facility for women, later followed by other penal institutions. From 1968 onward when an exhibition on exiles was inaugurated, the Castle became a venue intended primarily for museum activities and events.
Walking through the entirely renovated Castle building, visitors will discover the evolution of the structures from the Romanesque and Gothic periods to the Renaissance and the modern age. The museum exhibits curated by the National Museum of Contemporary History allow an insight into the history of the Trappist monks’ activities, the fate of Slovenian exiles and the times when it housed various correctional facilities. Visitors can also admire castle furniture from the collections of the National Museum of Slovenia, panoramas of Brestanica from the late 19th century and scenes from social life from the days of yore depicted on old picture postcards. A special exhibition also presents the noble medals from the Olympic Games and World Championships won by one of Slovenia’s best-ever athletes, Primož Kozmus.
In the Great Hall, characterised by a Gothic quadrifora with a stone cross, the museum unit organises temporary, primarily fine arts exhibitions.
In addition to a variety of events (concerts, theatre performances, lectures, etc.), the Castle has for years been welcoming the so-called Rajhenburg Day of chocolate and liqueurs. The Museum Shop offers a great variety of local produce for purchase, including chocolate, of course.