Novo mesto, Franciscan church of St. Leonard
On 7 April 1365 Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, founded a town on an empty location and named it after himself – Rudolfswerth. The name did not stick, since people started to call it Novo mesto (New Town) as it was indeed new at the time. This event somehow marked over six hundred years of creativity that drives Novo mesto even today. The town was headed by a town judge aided by the members of the town councils. They met in the town hall in Glavni trg or Veliki trg Square. Glavni trg Square is the central point of the medieval Novo mesto. The town hall from 1720 was torn down at the beginning of the 20th century and a new one was built in its stead.
People most often visit the Museum of Dolenjska with its extraordinary archaeological artefacts, the big Glavni trg Square with the town hall and the arcade walkway, the St Nicholas Cathedral with its painting of the famous Venetian Tintoretto, the bishop’s palace, granary and gardens, as well as the small houses at Breg (Bank) and the Franciscan monastery. After the Franciscans arrived to Novo mesto, they were on 31 October 1469 given the St Leonard’s Chapel by the vicar general of Aquileia Andrej, Bishop von Fereritin. The Franciscans were said to have demolished the chapel and built on its site a church that was consecrated by the Pićan bishop Pashazij in 1478 or 1487. The present church has a long and narrow presbytery that is, following the gothic manner, octagonal and walled on five sides and a rectangular, almost square nave. In Novo mesto and its vicinity one may also come across a handful of castles built mostly during the feudalism. Among the well-known we should mention Otočec, Grm with its renowned park, Struga, and Stari Grad Castle.
Novo mesto and the Dolenjska region are also well known for the kozolec (a sort of hayrack), cviček (a type of wine) and zidanica (small stone house near the vineyard) where one can sample the cviček wine. The Novo mesto nature is astounding, intoxicating and mysterious. Its qualities are enhanced by one of the most beautiful rivers, the Krka, which abounds in wildlife. High above the town rises the mythical Gorjanci hills that are home to bears and (supposedly) dwarves. The whole country is full of buzzing bees that make the most delicious Dolenjska honey. And it is not only the bees that are so hard-working but also the country folk who have decorated the Novo mesto countryside with numerous small villages that now enrich the wonderful hilly terrain.