02 April 2017

One day trip: Monastery of Žiče

I believe that every country, region or place has its own bits of pearls of historic or natural monuments. Slovenia is no exception at that and never stops amazes me with the natural monuments that are spread all around the our small country.

One of such pearls is the Monastery of Žiče, hidden away in the narrow valley of St. Janez near Slovenske Konjice.

Its story starts around 1160 when the Comte Otokar III of Štajerska has establish the monastery of the french order of Carthusians.

First the buildings were made from wood, later they started to build it from bricks. Due to its more than 600 year of existence the monastery experienced many changes and developments. Through the centuries, the monastery has wore many styles from Roman, Gothic, through Renaissance to Baroque and every period left a large marque on every day life and the building itself. 

In 1782 the Monastery was abolished by Austrian emperor Josef II. For few decades the monastery served a different purpose. Since there was no "life" and activity anymore that would preserve the monastery in the beginning of 19th century the buildings started to decay and it wasn't up to recent years that this one day majestic place has gotten its deserved attention. The ruins and the parks of the Monastery now represent the Slovene cultural and historic monument of highest importance.

The Carthusians were hardworking. They grow herbs and developed a long tradition of natural medicine (there is a natural apothecary in the building representing the one that used to be there in the glorious days of the monastery and herbal garden is restored based on the original design) and other crafts such as glass-works and milling. 

Apart from crafts there was another important work that Carthusians devoted their days to - copywriting. Only the most skilled in writing were admitted among the monks. They were creating a detailed transcripts and new texts from all areas, from theology to astronomy, from the practical sciences to literary creation. Among the texts preserved a lot of manuscripts are priceless monuments of Slovene intellectual heritage and the wider Central European area.

Thought many manuscripts were destroyed or taken from the monastery, they nevertheless give an insight into the many centuries of continuous development of medieval books. Today about 120 of medieval records (manuscripts, incunabula and parchments) and almost 100 fragments are still known and they represent only a small part of the former wealth of the monastery's library. Unfortunately the majority of the scripts exist outside Slovene borders. 

If this is not enough history for you, you can stop at the oldest Slovene guesthouse for lunch just outside the monastery walls.

No comments:

Post a Comment