A very lovely stop on our Taste of Slovenia culinary tour in the Dolenjska region is the Otočec Castle, built on an island in the Krka river. The region is rich in history and natural beauty. The Castle dates to the 13th century when it was occupied by the Knights of Otočec, vassals of the Bishops of Freising. After that it had a number of owners from the Tirolean Villanders family at the beginning of the 16th century, to the Margheri de Commadona family, who owned Otočec up to the end of the Second World War. Two Slovenian classics by the author Ivan Tavčar, “Otok and Struga” and “Janez Sonce” are set here.
The natural conditions, which are created at Otočec by the Krka River with its numerous islelets, tufa shelves, river channels and exuberant vegetation, represent one of the most picturesque and attractive stretches of river. It has a great variety of aquatic habitats, which are characterized by 32 species of fish, including many rare and endangered species. For bird watchers, Mute Swans, Mallard Ducks, Grey Herons, Great Mitterns, Moorhens, and Kingfishers, with a greater variety of bird species in the winter, favor the Castle environs.
In the Middle Ages, for security reasons, a castle rampart was added, and an excavation of a new southern channel in the river Krka transformed the former riverside post into an island, joined to the mainland by a wooden bridge. The castle was further fortified after the fierce Turkish raiding of Dolenjska in the 16th century. Otočec castle was burnt during the Second World War and the castle furniture destroyed or dispersed. Both wooden bridges were also damaged. But the castle was renovated under the supervision of the heritage protection service in the 1950’s, the only castle in Dolenjska to be renovated of the many that were burnt during the WWII.
The Castle Park was laid out during the period at the turn of the 18th century.. The oldest trees in the park are around 100 years, but the majority were planted after the renovation of the castle the 1950’s. Native tree species are black alder, white willow, black poplar and oak.
Today the Castle is a Hotel and fine dining venue. Weddings and other important events are staged here. When we visit the Castle, we will be welcomed by the Count,
then relax on the Castle terrace with a beverage, stroll the grounds, view the beautiful Krka, and meet the many swans that inhabit the Castle waters.
Join us at Otočec Castle on Monday, June 2, 2014. After our visit to Otočec, we will head for the Turška gora hills to enjoy a picnic of Dolenjska specialties and sample the very special wine, cviček.