Žalec, Novo Celje Mansion
The baroque mansion Novo Celje is considered to be one of the best baroque secular monuments in Slovenia due to the architectural design, the preserved entrance hall, the representative staircase, the renovated chapel, the solemn hall and other architectural elements. The mansion was built between 1752 and 1755 by the local nobleman, Anton Gaisruck, on the site where the old Plumberk mansion once stood. It was intended to become the new centre of the Celje nobility and was bought from Empress Maria Theresa. The construction was finished by his brother, count Janez Karl Gaisruck.
The plans for the mansions were made by Matija Persky, a builder from Carniola. Jožef Hueber, an architect from Graz designed the entrance to the mansion park. Many artists worked at decorating it, the painter Anton Lerhinger from Rogatec and the sculptor Veit Königer from Graz were among them.
Many different families owned the mansion until 1919. In 1930, the owner sold it to The Drava Banovina, which transformed it into a mental hospital that was there until 1980, when the mansion was emptied.
The baroque sculptures from the staircase, the painted tapestries, part of the furnishings and the remnants of the archived documents were transferred to the Ljubljana National Museum; the rest had been sold by the owner. Many of the monument’s artistic characteristics were lost during the time the mental hospital was open. The mansion underwent many modifications to fit the needs of the hospital. Much of the park area was transformed into a parking lot. Since 1995 the mansion and its parks have been owned by the municipality of Žalec. In 2001 the renovation process began. Although the mansion is empty and does not have a real function, some traditional events are held there.
The municipality of Žalec
The municipality of Žalec is the economic, administrative and cultural centre of the Savinja valley (Spodnja Savinjska dolina). The Valley is known worldwide for its hop cultivation and is known as “the valley of green gold”. It stretches over 117 km2 and has 20.500 inhabitants. In December 2009 the Eco-Museum of Hop-Growing and Brewing Industry in Slovenia opened in the former hop drying facility in Žalec. It is the first one of its kind in Slovenia. The modern history of hop-growing began in the 70s of the 19th century in the area of Novo Celje, a small village in the municipality. The owners of the Novo Celje mansion wanted to increase the estate’s income. The Bavarian hop-grower Jurij Peter Hörnes from Herschberga near Boden Lake was hired to teach the gardener and castle administrator, Josip Bilger. He set up the first plantation of hop from Württemberg, building the foundations to the activity that is still to this day the symbol of the valley.