Brežice, Brežice Castle
The castle built on a small slope on the left bank of the Sava River, which separates the region of Styria from Carniola, is believed to date back to the 12th century. It was built by the Archdiocese of Salzburg to serve its administrative and defence purposes. The town of Brežice, which was established in its vicinity, was granted city rights in 1353. The name Brežice is a derivative of the phrase ‘the town on the bank’ (i.e. bregu – brežcu), situated on the pier above the dried-out bed of the Sava. The two-storey castle is the mightiest building in Brežice, built in the middle of the 16th century in the site of the castle, which was burnt down in 1515, at the time of the great peasant revolt.
In peaceful times, the aristocratic Attems family turned the castle into a residence. Count Ignac Maria Attems was fond of the Baroque art and commissioned several famous Styrian artists to paint his castles. His idea was to rebuild the eastern wing and make a hall, today known as the Knight’s Hall (Viteška dvorana). Fresco paintings are found in a double staircase, the chapel and the Knight's Hall, which was renovated in 2011 and is a unique example of secular baroque fresco painting in the Slovenian territory. It is also the place where visitors can listen to concerts and attend various other events, while admiring the scenes from the Roman and Greek mythologies.
In the past, the castle underwent several changes. Designed as a park with a fountain in the middle, the castle courtyard looked very spacious. The castle's surroundings were landscaped, protective moats were filled up and turned into a garden area, and an icehouse was built by the south-western tower. On the eastern side of the castle, the park was planted with various tree species.
Since 1949, the castle, a monument of immovable cultural heritage, has been the home of Posavje Museum Brežice, which presents the heritage of the Posavje region from the earliest days until today. The Posavje Museum Brežice derives from the seeds of a museum founded in Krško under the auspices of the Museum Society for the political districts of Brežice and Krško on 30th September 1939.
It houses modern permanent exhibitions, a special series of interdisciplinary exhibitions associated with the Brežice Castle frescoes: The Four Elements: 1 – WATER, 2 – FIRE, 3 – EARTH, 4 – AIR and Five senses: 1 - TASTE, and numerous temporary exhibitions.
Archaeological exhibition ‘One Thousand Years of Posavje Hills and Plains’ gives information about the Roman Era in Posavje. The ethnological exhibition illustrates the history of the people of Posavje – how they lived and worked, what they believed in and how they expressed themselves through art in the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection titled ‘Peasant Revolts and Heritage of the Posavje Protestants’ features the first words ever in the Slovenian language "Le vkup, le vkup, le vkup, uboga gmajna"- i.e. Unite, unite, you wretched folk. Other exhibits include the facsimile of Dalmatin's Biblija – a translation of the Bible from German into Slovenian, published in 1584.
The exhibition ‘Bürger – mestjan – meščan’ (bourgeois) is housed in a sitting room dating back to 1900 with a view of the town street, and in the intimacy of a bourgeois bedroom. A Baroque double staircase leads from the Knight’s Hall to the second part of the museum, where visitors are introduced to the history of the 20th century – the exhibition ‘Under the Nine Flags: Posavje 1900–1990’. The art-history part of the museum presents the rich secular and religious heritage of Posavje and a gallery with the works of Alenka Gerlovič. A special room is dedicated to the memory of the painter Franjo Stiplovšek, the founder, an ardent collector, and a long-time director (1949–1963) of the museum.
In addition to staging numerous permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum organises various events and programmes, including guided tours, creative workshops, lectures, concerts, Castle Adventures, and the like. The Brežice Castle is also a popular venue for weddings, which are held in one of the most beautiful Baroque halls. During the summer, the castle courtyard and the pavilion serve as a venue for concerts, cinema screenings, various cultural events, ceremonies etc.
The Knight’s Hall of Brežice Castle
The Knight’s Hall, a monument to Baroque art that fascinates and captivates anyone who sets foot in it without knowing what to expect, is the very heart of the Brežice Castle. Its pulse is felt throughout the castle, including by all of us who have the honour and privilege to be part of the life of this castle, which is home to the museum that has carried the name Posavje Museum Brežice since 1949, when it was decided the new museum would be housed in the castle.
The Knight’s Hall of Brežice Castle
Francis Carl Remb (Radovljica, 1675 - Vienna, 1718): Self-portrait in the Knights' Hall in the Brežice Castle (The Posavje Museum Brežice), around 1703