Turjak, Turjak Castle
In the forests of Turjak grazed wild cattle, the so-called aurochs or in Slovenian ‘tur’. The aurochs disturbed the masons while these were building the castle and so the count had them killed. All except one that got away and was captured and brought to castle only after seven days. An old mason foretold that the Turjak people would be as strong as this ‘tur’ that resisted for so long. The proud count thus decided to depict the auroch on the tower and in his coat-of-arms.
Turjak Castle, one of the most important castles in the former Duchy of Carniola, was first mentioned in historical sources in 1220, although it is believed to have been built in the 11th or even the 10th century. Its owners, the lords of Auersperg, played a significant role in Slovene history. The height of their power coincided with the Reformation and the period of the Ottoman wars in the 16th century. Particularly notable for their efforts in the fight against the Turks were Herbert von Auersperg, who served as provincial governor, and Andreas von Auersperg, the commander of the victorious Christian army at the Battle of Sisak in 1593.
The appearance presented by Turjak Castle today is that of a Renaissance fortification of the 16th century, since the castle was rebuilt following an earthquake in 1511. It was then that the castle was given its current triangular form. It is protected to the east by two round towers, while the opposite sides of the triangle end in the great round bastille known as the Ox Tower.
Following the renovation of the castle, which took place at intervals from the end of the Second World War onwards, though most intensively between 2004 and 2006, the parts of the castle now open to visitors include Dalmatin's Chapel with its 15th-century frescoes, the Great Hall, the Catholic chapel, the wedding hall, the tower dungeons and the Ox Tower.
In front of the castle stands an ancient linden, Prešeren's famous "oak", while below the castle the ruins of a hothouse are visible. Here, too, are the lodgings built by the Auersperg family to house their servants when they became too old to work. To the north of the castle an avenue of lindens marks the site of the lists where jousting once took place.
The undulating landscape, overgrown with mixed woodland, villages which look unchanged and have kept their homely feel, and the inhabitants who up to this day still occupy themselves with countless traditional crafts, are the trademarks of the municipality of Velike Lašče – not to mention the untouched countryside, rich with natural beauty and ideal for farm tourism and walking trips.
We can justifiably call the Velikolaška area the cradle of Slovene culture and literature. Primož Trubar, the author of the first Slovene printed book; Fran Levstik, who is generally recognized for his famous story of Martin Krpan; the poet, dramatist, story teller and essayist Josip Stritar and likewise Jože Javoršek were all born here.
The rich cultural heritage offers the visitor to Velike Lašče views of Turjak Castle, Trubar’s residence on Rašica, Stritar’s granary in Podsmreka, Illi’s hayrack in Doljne Retje, the fruit dryer at Gradež pri Turjaku …
Our sites are also well known for their sacral heritage, for example the Church of Marija Kraljica Angelov (Mary Queen of Angels) at Velika Slevnica,
which has beautiful Baroque altars; the Church of Sv. Primož and Felicijan (Sts Primus and Felician) at Zgonče; the Church of Sv. Ahac na Gori (St Achatius on the mountain Gora) and the Church of Sv. Lenart (St Leonard) in Krvava Peč, as well as many other natural monuments, among which are the Kobilji curek waterfall, the highest in the Doljenska region; the Bajdinški waterfall; and many karstic phenomena – springs, chasms and caves.
This area is very attractive for walkers. Five themed routes weave through the countryside: the Velikolaško Cultural Route; walks beside the Roman prison walls (Claustra); the Turjak Educational Woodland Route – Rašica; the Turjak tourist route; and the Rašica tourist route – Kurešček, from where two other European routes, the E6 and E7, are accessible.