The village path

We invite you to walk through a typical village of Upper Carniola, full of memories about the past!

dolzina 1,6 km visina 35 m cas 1 h
1 Avsenik Museum 2 Robačnek Watermill 3 Parish Church of St. Ulrich
4 Begunje manor house 5 Plečnik’s park

The Robačnek Mill

The Robačnek Mill in Begunje is the last of the seven mills situated on the Begunjščica or Zgoša stream mentioned in the official evidence of land register plots (1826). The building with the mill is around 500 years old according to the oral tradion of the Robačnek family. In the past the mill was part of the Katzenstein manor house situated in the vicinity. The mill once had five millstones, three mill wheels, eight stamps and the device for cereals refining. It was propelled by water from the mill stream.

Upon the renovation of the house in 1963 three millstones and two mill wheels were removed. Besides stamps, two millstones and one mill wheel are preserved. The Municipality of Radovljica in cooperation with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Kranj restored the mill as an example of technical heritage in 2002.

From left: Mill interior | Mill wheel | Mill stomps

The old part of the village

Church of St. Urh

The church was first mentioned in 1403 but it is undoubtedly much older. At that time it was part of the Bled property of the bishops of Brixen. In 1468 Begunje is first mentioned as a branch of Radovljica parish. In 1787 it turned into an independent parish.

The church was completed in 1740. A new, baroque style church and rectory were covered with tiles from a deserted grad Kamen (Stone Castle). A bad storm ruined the belfry roof so a new, higher belfry was build and given its present look. Up until 1877 there has been a covered bridge from the manor house along the belfry to the choir. It enabled the lords to come to church separately from other people.

The altar paintings are works of Leopold Layer (1752 – 1828) from Kranj. The side stone altar of Holy Virgin was transferred from a chapel in castle Kamen. The two side altars of St. Valentine and St. Isidore were made by Janez Vurnik, a stonecutter and sculptor from Radovljica. Between 1894 and 1897 the painter Matija Bradaška from Kranj painted the interior of the church. The painting of St. Ulrich, a work of Leopold Layer, and the altar painting of the Heart of Jesus by Ivan Grohar, are still kept in the parish.

From left: Matevž Langus – View of Begunje (around 1830) | Church of St. Urh | Church interior

The manor house and the cemetery of hostages

Katzenstein, J.V. Valvasor, The Glory of Dutchy of Carniola (1689)

The original court by the church in Begunje is mentioned in written sources in 1428 which is relatively late. In the 14th century it belonged to Rain nobility then it was handed over to Katzianers. They thoroughly rebuilt the court in the middle of the 16th century and renamed it to Katzenstein in 1614 with the emperor’s permission. The widow Juliana Katzianer, a strong supporter of Protestantism, had a protestant chapel built near the castle. Many famous protestants such as Jurij Dalmatin and Peter Kupljenik worked there. In 1601 the Counter-Reformation committee led by bishop Hren blew up a protestant chapel with gunpowder. Earl Janez (John) Herbert Katzianer took to rebuilding a medieval renaissance manor house and trusted it to an Italian builder Marcelo Ceretolla. The staircase of the castle and individual living quarters on the floor were decorated with magnificent and quality stucco which has been preserved up until today. On the 24th April 1763 the earls of Lamberg took over the castle. They moved from grad Kamen (Stone Castle) and in 1765 finally joined the two properties.

In 1875 the Austrian-Hungarian jurisdictional admistration bought the manor house from Viktor Jermann and transformed it into a female penitentiary. Until the second world war the penitentiary was led by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Sisters of Charity ran religious education together with a school with two classes. The reeducation of female prisoners consisted mainly of garden work, prison economy and cattle breeding. Among special works were handiwork, weaving as well as sewing and tailoring.

The German occupier surrounded the manor house with bunkers right after occupation in 1941 and used it as an assembly prison for exiles and later as a central police prison. In the first months of the war there was a strong Resistance movement in Gorenjska (Upper Carniola) therefore the Begunje manor house turned into a central prison for members and collaborators of the Slovene Liberation Front. During the war there were 11.477 prisoners in Begunje manor and more that half of them were under thirty years of age. The castle was the scene of agony and death since the occupier executed the hostage executions alongside cruel torture. There were 849 people from Begunje prison executed during the war. On the 4th May 1945 the Kokrica detachment of the partisan army occupied the Begunje prison and liberated 632 prisoners.

After the war the manor house turned into a female penitentiary for political prisoners for a while and later into a school for police officers. Since 1952 it used as a psychiatric
hospital. The museum of hostages was placed in the extension in 1961 and has remained there ever since.

Katzenstein today

John (Ivan) Katzianer, born around 1491 in Katzenstein Castle, is one of the most famous representatives of the Katzianer family together with Franz Katzianer, a bishop of Ljubljana (1488-1543). He acquired fame by being an exceptional army leader, a military strategist and courageous fighter agains the Turks. He became famous in the Turkish siege of Vienna in October 1529 when he and his cavalry repulsed three violent attacks of the Turks at Carinthian gate and himself defeated twelve Turkish soldiers in a one-on-one fight. He played an important role in the battles at Košice and Wiener Neustadt. In the battle of Osijek he commanded 50,000 soldiers whose aim was to seize Slavonija from the Turks. As a successful commander-in-chief Ivan Katzianer gained great influence and wealth therefore he presented a great danger to the emperor himself.
Upon the emperor’s instruction he was murdered in 1539 during lunch by a Croatian earl Zrinjski. John Katzianer was buried in a churc in Gornji Grad, next to his brother Franz Katzianer. The tombstones of both famous Katzianer brothers is still on display in the church.

Plečnik’s park

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.

Iz leve: Arhitekt Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) | Plecnik’s altar penitentiary chapel drawing | Summerhouse Murka (1939)

Museum Avsenik

Brothers Slavko Avsenik and Vilko Ovsenik were born in Begunje in a house called Pri Jožovcu (At Jožovc place). With their rich opus they left a memorable trace in the European musical and cultural history. Brothers Avsenik are thought to be the founders of Slovene popular folk music. The unique composition of the instruments was a novelty in 1954, when the quintett was established. A different, ‘Avsenik’ sound of polkas and waltzs contributed to its worldwide fame. Many tours and numerous imitators at home and abroad bear witness to that.

In four decades of being active the Avsenik ensemble recorded over 700 compositions many of which have become folk songs. ‘Na Golici’ is one of the most often performed instrumental musical works in the world. During their active period they have released 120 records and sold over 30 million copies. They received numerous platinous, diamond and gold records as well as many other prestigious international awards.

From left: “Oberkrainer” quartet (1953) | Brothers Vilko Ovsenik and Slavko Avsenik | Avsenik brothers ensemble
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