Rogatec is a really lovely small medieval town, set along the border with Croatia in the far east of the Dežela Celjska region.
Looking like a traditional fairy-tale town, it is compact but utterly charming and has been a market town for more than 700 years. Despite its small size, there is a surprising amount to do here. The tourism authority has done a really great job in recent years promoting it, emphasizing ‘green’ tourism and preserving its heritage. Many attractions have been renovated and attract visitors from across Europe and the world.
OPEN AIR MUSEUM: A real insight into how people here used to live, this fascinating open air museum preserves and presents the architectural and folk heritage and traditions of the Sotla Valley region. It promotes the culture of the 18th and 19th centuries and into the early 20th centuries and is laid out just like a small village, adding to the feeling that you have stepped back in time. You can find examples of local arts and crafts as well as folk traditions and customs, and it’s a real treat to go on a guided tour and see how things used to function on traditional farms in the region. There are also hands-on educational workshops that focus on everything from bread baking to basket weaving, blacksmithing, cooking and other traditional trades. It’s easy to spot as you’ll find it just past the equestrian club, which itself is just a few hundred meters past the castle. Most of the buildings are original and were relocated here from other locations in the region. The most important building is probably the wooden Šmitova Hiša (Šmitova), a former home built in the early 19th century that is typical of the area. It was the birthplace of the Slovenian poet and translator Joze Smit and forms the core of the museum, with a straw roof and clay walls that are plastered and whitewashed with lime. Within the site there is also a barn, an old outhouse, a well, an apiary for beehives, a pigpen, a hayrack and a blacksmith’s forge. An information point and a gift shop are the newest buildings on the site. Info: Ptujska 23, +386 (0)3 818 62 00, email@example.com, www.rogatec.si.
STRMOL DVOREC: This 15th-century manor house, or castle, stands on a low hill above the old town centre. Known as Strmol Mansion in English, it’s the main tourist attraction in town. And don’t worry, you’re unlikely to miss it. It is mostly white, but it features striking architectural details painted onto the walls in grey. The original designs were discovered during excavations and faithfully reconstructed. With the flags flying outside too, it has the appearance of a fairy-tale castle. It is also notable as one of the few castles in Slovenia to have kept its Slovene name throughout its history.
Dvorec Strmol is a manor house that developed from a tower house granted to Jacob Strmol of Cerklje na Gorenjskem by the Counts of Cilli in 1436. The building’s medieval design still survives in its Renaissance architectural fabric. A strong baroque influence, with stuccowork, frescoes and attractively painted facades, place it among the more important buildings of the feudal period in Slovenia. Major renovations were carried out between 1996 and 2003 and also in 2014/15.
Today it serves mostly as a tourist attraction and a museum as well as a location for weddings and sometimes concerts. The stables are also used for events, and are also now home to the Mayor’s office and other municipal administration premises. What appealed to us most was the original black kitchen on the first floor. Complete with open stone fireplace, you can reserve a table and enjoy a meal here under a ceiling that has been collecting the smoke and smells from the fireplace for five centuries. There’s a castle restaurant and pub on the first floor. In the basement are a furnished wine cellar, tasting rooms and a dungeon. The second floor houses an art gallery. On the third floor is the chapel with its restored Baroque frescoes and two halls – a ‘little’ room and a ‘great’ room. Both are decorated with Neoclassical paintings. The chapel was first mentioned in 1682 and is dedicated to St Vincent. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rogatec.si.