A mild ascent to the ancient church of St. Peter. From the top of the hill you can experience one of the most fascinating views across the Upper Carniola.
|5,1 km||370 m||2-3 h|
|Domačija Gorjak||St. Peter’s Church||Sankaška koča|
St. Peter’s Church on the Mountain (838 metres above sea level) was first mentioned in the 14th century. In the beginning of the 16th century a new two-nave late Gothic church hall was built. It was consecrated in 1523. The belfry used to be separated from the church. Later the space between the belfry and the nave was roofed. Around 1530 the presbytery and the nave were painted by Jernej (Bartholome) from Loka who was working in Gorenjska (Upper Carniola), Tolminska and Venetian Slovenia regions in the 30s and 40s of the 16th century. The frescoes once covered the whole presbytery, the triumphal arch and the north wall as well as parts of the west and south walls in the nave. Scenes from the life of St. Peter are depicted on the walls. The triumph arch wall depicts Judgement Day, warning about the inevitability of death and cautioning against sins. Among the sinners there are the pope, the king and the bishop. The north wall of the nave and a part of the west wall hold twenty-six scenes forming one of the most extensive passion sets in the Slovene medieval wall painting.
St. Peter’s Church played an important role during the Turkish raids. It was included in the system of danger informing with the help of watch bonfires. In the past it was the sexton’s duty to inform the locals of Turkish danger with the help of bonfires as well as to drive away the hail with ringing the church bells. The preserved signatures of pilgrims from the 17th century bear witness to the former pilgrimage character of the church. Folk tradition still carries on the fact that the church was the place of pilgrimage over the Karavanke range from Koroška (Carinthia).
Mary’s Chapel near St. Peter’s Church might have been one of the reasons for pilgrimages. Under the chapel there is a karst pit with a breeze coming out of it and believed by the people to have a healing effect. The finding of Roman coins in the pit and a rich folk tradition give evidence about the important pre-Christian cult.
“On the mountain behind Katzenstein manor house, right behind St. Peter’s Church, one can see a deep stone pit, not wider for a small dog to enter. Within this pit there are certain benefits or healing powers for as anyone has an earache or is partially or completely deaf and places his head over the pit and keeps it for a while, he obtains his hearing again. This was not told only by sexton on the mountain but by many other people who have been helped.”
(Janez Vajkard Valvasor, The Glory of the Dutchy of Carniola, 1689)
“On the northwest side of the manor house rises a steep hillock of St. Peter with an interesting Gothic church. Behind it there is a half ruined sign under which there is an arched cavern. It must be an underground shaft leading to the Castle Kamen so that the besieged at the castle would be able to rescue themselves in case of an emergency. The people have their own explanation for it, namely that the pit is connected to Rome itself and that they have heard the voice of the Pope himself holding a sermon in Rome on the day of St. Peter’s.”
(Fran Saleški Finžgar, Upwards, 1899)
“And that breeze that constantly breathes from the pit suppresses female infertility. I can still remember seeing a woman sitting by the pit with her feet dangling over the edge so that the breeze was blowin under her skirt.”
(Jakob Prešeren, Alpine Journal, 1957)
The nuns of St. Vincent de Paul order who ran a female penitentiary in the manor house trusted the greatest Slovene architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) with the arrangement of the castle garden and the penitentiary chapel. The gazebo pavilion with the chapel of St. Joseph also named Jožamurka (Plečnik used the name Murka for small holiday homes in Gorenjska) was being built between 1937 and 1938. Originally the statue of St. Joseph by the sculpor Božo Pengov was placed in the chapel. Today the statue can be found in Plečnik’s ouse in Ljubljana. The roof rests on columns with Doric capitals build in a combination of stone and specially fire-baked semicircular tiles. The motif of ‘a house within a house’ symbolizes the double purpose of the building: it served as a chapel in rocessions and eligious ceremonies as well as a place of rest and nuns’ meetings.
Also the summerhouse Brezjanka or Murka (1938-1939) at the end of the chestnut promenade is Plečnik’s work. Six crude wooden trunks support the roof of an open shed which is covered with concrete tiles. The floor is ornamented with pebble, brick and ceramics mosaics. On the middle column there used to be Mary’s statue. In the original design the Murka pavilion resembles a classical antique temple and the use of crude wooden trunks goes further back in the history – in the time of first simple dwellings.
In 1939-1940 Plečnik designed the altar for Mary’s or penitentiary chapel in the former magnificent rooms of the manor house. The altar background was represented by a marble wall with three emicircular niches which resembled the triumphal arch. On both sides of the altar table there were four columns with lamps arranged in a semicircle. Plečnik put crib in the right altar niche. The chapel was pulled down in 1949.
The castle park includes the chestnut promenade and a hostages cemetery. In 1952-1953 the architect Edvard Ravnikar (1907-1993) designed the burial place for 457 hostages and 18 Second World War soldiers in the northeast part of the park. The headstones in the shape of truncated square stones carry the engraved data of the buried hostages and soldiers. The statues are the work of the academic sculptor Boris Kalin (1905-1975). The bronze statues, The Hostage and The Prisoner, date back to 1951 and 1954 and the statue The Female Hostage was carved from a karst marble in 1956.