Culture & Museums
Slovenia has a long, remarkable and proud history, largely influenced by its central European location as a gateway between the Alps and Rome & Western Europe.
There are lots and lots of micro museums here in all shapes, types and sizes and we can only recommend that you pop in and visit a few during your daytrips out & about. You will be genuinely surprised how different, special and interesting they all are.
There are some traditional museums in the bigger towns, but most of the them will be smaller collections, maybe a local or regional exhibition in a castle or unexpected place like even inside an apothecary or a restaurant.. we found both of these types in pretty Radovlica, near Bled.. there is an alchemy museum inside a chemists ye olde shoppe and a working Gingerbread museum in the basement of a fantastic medieval restaurant!
So the message is.. if you are up for having a little look around these fantastic mini exhibitions, just keep your eyes open and you can find them everywhere you go in Green Slovenia!
Unless you are a proper egg head, most museums here can be viewed and enjoyed in about an hour, so you can do lots of other things with your day and maybe use some of the info or experiences you get at the museum to better understand and enjoy the rest of your day.
There are several museums that give fantastic detail about all aspects of Slovenian wildlife, culture and history. They are sure to surprise you with their quality, content and excellent value for money.
the Museum of Cerknica Disappearing lake.. (25 mins)
You can find all about Europe's biggest disappearing lake at this little private museum created by a local enthusiast in the tiny village of Dolenje Jezero next to the Cerknica lake.. he has built a fantastic working model of this unique lake to show how it fills up with water in the winter and then how the water completely disappears in the summer!
the Museum of Pivka's 17 Disappearing Lakes.. (15 mins)
This brand new micro museum is on 2 floors and explains all about the 17 interconnected disappearing lakes close to the little town of Pivka.. you can learn about each individual lake, some lake legends and how an entire village was lost one christmas crossing a dodgy icy lake while taking a short cut to church!
Upstairs it has some great exhibits for kids, showing different types of trees (there are a lot of trees in Green Slovenia) and wild animal prints from the local forests.
Incredibly, there is still no road sign in English or even German to this museum, so we will tell you for now it is in the village of Petelinje, which is a turn into the countryside from within Pivka..
the Entire Village of Blackberry.. (100 mins)..
There are small museums and galleries with different and sometimes wacky exhibits located all over Slovenia.
We have been to the most westerly village in Slovenia called "Blackberry", where one house has been converted into a museum with old photos of all the village residents over the centuries AND there is a seperate photo posted outside each house, (most are now abandoned), to show who lived in that house and what they did for a living.
So the whole village is like a living museum, it's utterly fascinating and a magical place! (Blackberry village, below left)..
Chestnut Monastery.. (Kostanjevice).. (80 mins)
There is a kooky display of numerous huge wooden sculptures in the fields surrounding the largest Art gallery in Green Slovenia, just outside the village of Kostanjevice, which fortunately translates as Chestnut!
They have a sculpture festival here most years and so new wooden exhibits get added all the time! This is a great place to have a picnic and then maybe go explore the different exhibits and then maybe have something to eat in the village of Chestnut.. which can be found over a wooden bridge on an island in the middle of the bottle green Krka river.. how about that!
the Museum of 7 Museums.. Bistra, near Vhrnika (35 mins)..
There is a wonderful Technical museum at Bistra (35 mins), which we call the Museum of 7 Museums as it is so big, varied and spread out over different buildings in a Slovenian "country manor like" monastery.. so it is a little bit like going round lots of different mini museums!
This is the museum we would really recommend if you wanted to know and learn more about Slovenia and Slovenians.. you can spend hours here!
You will find out about so many aspects of Slovenian life and also see all of ex president Tito's old vintage cars and bullet proof limousines. AND dont be put off by the word "technical", maybe they should say "treasure" instead.
All this Slovenian stuff in a country estate setting with beautiful gardens and fast flowing, crystal clear river with mill water wheel.. there is even a restaurant opposite the car park, so if there was ever a wet weather location for you in Green Slovenia that wasn't a cave.. this is the one!!
Ljubblyjana.. (30 mins)..
There is so much stuff about Ljubljana on the tinternet anyway that we really don't need to tell you any more! Ok, briefly, you will find a great collection of Roman stuff and the oldest musical instrument in the world at the majestic National Museum in Ljubljana and there are lots of different museums scattered over the capital city.
We particularly enjoyed the Museum of the City of Ljubljana, it has some great exhibits and the oldest wheel in the world.. we wrote a blog on this and all the jokes you could imagine to get from an old wheel found in a marsh, please roll to "Wheely Wheely old"!
Kids Puppet Theatres..
And a very quick mention to a really sensational kids theatre that is just around the corner from the Lubljana city museum.. go out the museum door, turn left and left again.. now you are facing the river and the kids puppet theatre is on your left!
If you can get in to see a puppet show, just do it! It doesnt matter if you don't speak Slovene.. well let's face it, you won't will you!!
Kids puppet shows are quite a cultural institution here in little old Slovenia, we found an amazing room stuffed with kids theatre puppets in the magnificent Sevnica castle, if you are interested AND if you are visiting the fantastic Turjak castle there is a superbly reconstructed Kids puppet theatre stage in the main reception!
the Volcano Museum.. (160 mins)..
Keeping in the spirit of cute cuddly fluffy toys, if you want to go see a giant mole called Oli, or more importantly visit a fab volcano micro museum with a virtual rollercoaster, tucked away in the north east corner of Slovenia, near Murska Sobota, then the Volcano Adventure Park museum is the one for you.. it's really great!
It is always worth visiting a Slovenian castle, if you can get inside.. one of the best tips we can give you is if there is a guide twiddling their thumbs at reception.. ALWAYS ask them to do you a tour as there is so much extra you can learn and they always end up showing some little hidden castle secret and regardless, it is also a very good way to have a chat with a local person, as Slovenians are perhaps the best secret in Slovenia!
Some Special Castle Museums..
Most castles will have something of interest for old and young and there is a fabulously wacky exhibition at Velenje castle, (90 mins), perched high up on the hill overlooking the new town and the valley.
This is the best place we have found to see some stuff about socialist Yugoslavia, the workings of socialism and how the socialist town of Velenje sprang up.. but of course there is also a really massive collection of African Pigmy masks! Yep, only in Slovenia!
At Bogensperk castle you can find out about the life and times of Valvasor, the first Slovenian to trumpet to the rest of the world about how beautiful and unique Green Slovenia is.. well, he also did a lot of printing and inventions in this fairy tale castle with a fab restaurant in the courtyard!
Perhaps the best collections of mirrors, carpets on walls, grandfather clocks, swords and all kinds of old stuff that give you the feeling the noble family are still living in the castle are at Ptuj castle (120 mins) and Snow Mountain, (Sneznik) castle (45 mins)..
Additionally, at Ptuj do not miss the museum of the Ptuj carnival in an old stable next to the castle and at Sneznik castle try to get in to the castle building with a "Dormouse hunting" exhibition.. Yep..
Idrija castle.. (60 mins)..
There is a great museum inside Idrija castle up on the hill above the Unesco protected mining town..
There is a big collection of geological rocks and mining memorabilia downstairs and then upstairs you can find out all about the history of the world class local lace industry that was developed here by the wives of the miners, who made the most amazing lace creations while the men were down the mine.. (Idrija castle below)..
You could check out our Mines section to find out a little more about the three fantastic mines you can explore in Green Slovenia, Idrija was the second largest mercury mine in the world, Mezica was for lead and zinc.. now you can hike, bike or kayak in the tunnels.. and Velenje is a massive coal mine with a great tour and the deepest restaurant in Slovenia!
All three are amazing living museums..
And you can also find out more about dozens of Green Slovenian castles in our Castle section, these were just a few of the castle museum highlights for you!
the best Places for a spot of Medieval Torture!
If you want to scare the kids or just see how medieval Europeans extracted little secrets out of their neighbours OR how they dealt with women they didn't particularly like.. then we would recommend three secret places where you can see dungeons, chairs with nails in them or metal traps for witches..
The cute "Tower of Torture" can be found at Ribnica castle, (English translations still required).. OR you could visit the spooky red lights of the basement of the main massive tower at Celje castle OR be completely creeped out with the cobwebbed, rat infested dungeons at Turjak castle.. take your pick, Creepster fans, we love them all!
Roman stuff.. there is no shortage of Roman ruins in a little country that flanked the Eastern borders of Rome..
Roman Celje.. (90 mins)..
We totally recommend Celje for all things Roman and we particularly enjoyed the huge underground Roman excavations under the main Celje museum and the displays there.. an added bonus is if you go upstairs there is loads of info on the last Slovenian Royal family of Celje..
This would also be great preparation to move on afterwards up to the massive castle on the hill, where this family lived and died out, with a huge added bonus of a really terrific castle cafe AND one of the best Sunset vistas in Green Slovenia.. and that is saying something!
Ad Pirum Roman Fortress.. Hruscica.. Pear tree village.. (30 mins by E Bike)..
Just up in the forests above Lipizzaner Lodge is the remains of a massive Roman fortress wall that blocked all access from Ljubljana to Rome.. the two towers are long gone now, but it is a great E BIKE cycle up there to have look around, with a fab pub for food and a little museum at the back of the pub telling you about all things Roman!
Armies have been marching through Slovenia since before Roman times and there are several very different military history museums to recommend, displaying history from centuries of conflict between the continental empires.. with little Old Slovenia caught right in the middle of it all!
the WW2 Secret Partisan Hospitals..
A MUST SEE museum is the Franja Secret Partisan WW2 Hospital Museum near Cerkno, (75 mins). it's uberamazing, a location mixing the beauty and mystery of nature with the determination and bravery of people in a stunning mountain scene.
This is a place where you take a walk in the countryside and learn a story from history with every footstep. This is the place that the brave doctors and soldiers hid away from the Nazis to save hundreds of lives. It will literally take your breathe away.
Franja is the name of the lady doctor who led this secret hospital and the Partisans had a network secret hospitals and a printing press that were hidden in the vast forests and often moved to avoid detection..
Several of these are preserved to this day, still hidden in the forests and are living museums.. we have visited the Secret WW2 Printing Press near Idrija, the Kamnik Bela Secret WW2 Forest Hospital and the Zalesje WW2 Secret Forest hospital.. either one would make a fantastic visit into the depths of the Slovenian forest..
Other Military Museums..
the Pivka Tank Museum.. (15 mins)..
There is a large Tank museum at Pivka .. but it is not just tanks.. there aer a lot of tanks, other military vehicles and a huge submarine, great for kids. The museum is located along the second defensive line the Italians built between the two world wars (the first was Postojna) which also made use of the caves and natural tunnels, so also consider a tour around some of the tunnels..
If you wanted to learn something about the 1991 ten day Slovenian War of Independence, then this museum has a new building exhibition to explain more about what happened and is the very best place in Green Slovenia to find out how Slovenia wrestled independence from Socialist Yugoslavia and fought for her life while the rest of the world was eating pizza and watching Michael Douglas movies!
the Kobarid WW1 Isonzo Front Museum.. (90 mins)..
If you wanted to know more about the tragic WW1 battles along the line of the Soca river, then you should go visit the award winning Kobarid museum on the way to all the turquoise gorges and waterfalls.
You can find out about the largest mountain battle in human history, claiming the lives of over 1 million soldiers in a valley so beautiful, you just won't believe it.. Ernest Hemmingway wrote his "Farewell to Arms about his inhuman experiences here.
On the way to see the Lipizzaner horses at Lipica you could stop off in the lovely little village of Lokev (20 mins) for a choice of 3 restaurants and yet another military museum inside a tower with an anti aircraft gun outside.
The museum would also be a good starting point if you wanted to know where to find the huge number of preserved trenches, walls, fortresses and military cemetaries left over from this conflict..
And finally.. a word on all those Slovenian Poets and Writers!
You really can't go anywhere in Green Slovenia without a local person telling you excitedley that Mr Ivanitch or some other unpronounceable named writer lived in the little thatched cottage you are staring longingly at with lovely brown signs outside and not even a hint of a word in English by way of explanation!
Slovenians just don't get it that us visitors have a great respect for their nation and language, but if there is no explanation or translation available for us to read about the particular writer or poet who "used to live there" then how on earth can we be interested!!
You can even find some comical brochures translated into English to tell you that there is a reading at 3pm or 7pm in the cellar with a monk or whatever from the great poet.. but the reading is entirely in Slovene!.. what on Eart do these people expect us tourists to do with that.. they might as well have them read it to you in chinese!
We have no doubt of the importance, spirit and creativity of these scribes, but unless we get some kind of clue to help us understand what they actually wrote about, how it influenced Slovenian culture.. even just a crumb of info pretty please.. then there is sadly nothing to tell you about here.. which is a great shame..
If you do want to drive around from preserved cottage to pretty water mill and brown signs in just Slovenian, then a great place to do it is the road below Ljubljana after Turjak castle and towards Ribnica.. we are sure there is a lot of culture to learn about along here, but we will wait for the translation!