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Natural and Cultural Heritage Buildings in the Municipality of Velenje

The municipality of Velenje features numerous natural and cultural landmarks.  Natural attractions include the park in Škale, the Huda luknja gorge, the Medvedji rov pit, the Šehovka and Pilanca caves, the Pekel gorge to name just a few.

Velenje Castle

Arriving in Velenje from the direction of Celje, on entering the Šaleška dolina valley you will see the mighty Velenje castle. For many years the Velenje castle, together with its neighbouring castles of Šalek and Ekenštajn, controlled the routes from the Celjska kotlina basin to Carinthia, successfully withstanding the onslaught of time. The first mention of the Velenje castle appears in mid-13th century records when it was supposedly owned by the Kunšperk gentry. The castle is protected by a five-armed external wall, which follows the lay of the land and encompasses the courtyard with the well.

Next to the southeast corner there is the residential building while the northeast corner of the courtyard features a smallish defence tower. Since the 14th century, the castle has changed several owners. Its present day look dates to the beginning of the 16th century; subsequent improvements over the last few centuries have given it the shape as we see it today: the castle comprises the residential building with vaulted cellars, the external wall with defence towers and a huge round flower bed, and the beautiful, arcade enclosed courtyard.

The castle is a popular venue for various cultural and music events organised by the ‘events’ section of the Velenje library.

Šalek Castle

The Šalek castle situated above the Šalek hamlet is probably the oldest castle structure in the Šaleška dolina valley as the latter has been named after it. The castle was abandoned after 1770. The castle tower, which has been preserved to the present day, is the oldest part of the castle and is famous for its extraordinary triangular shape quite unique on the Slovenian territory.

Velenje Museum

The Velenje castle is also the headquarters of the Velenje museum. Presently, the museum houses ten museum and gallery collections, as follows: Mastodon Remains; František Font's African Collection; Baroque Art in the Sv. Jurij Church in Škale; The Lojze Perko Collection; Modern Slovenian Art – The Gorenje Collection; Reconstruction of a General Store; Reconstruction of an Inn; Šalek valley 1941 - 1945; Collection Šalek valley during 10. and 17. century and When Velenje Was Becoming a Town.

Speaking of museums we should not overlook the underground Coalmining Museum of Slovenia at the Old Pit in Velenje, the winner of a special award of the European Museum Forum for 2001. Before descending into the depths, you will be fitted with a miner’s vest and a helmet. A 120-year old mine lift will take you 180 meters below the surface where you will see how miners used to tear ‘black gold’ out of the bowels of Earth and kept sending it, tonne after tonne, to the light of day. You will hear the bell, which sounded accidents in the mine, and the machines used in coalmining. Deep underground, however, you will also enjoy the real ‘collier’s lunch’ and take a ride on a real mine train. Mining experts will make you familiar with the ecological impacts of coalmining, subsequent rehabilitation and revitalisation of the environment, and new products and services which are being introducing in that respect.

Sacral Heritage

Also rich and remarkable is the Šaleška dolina sacral heritage as there is no shortage of churches and church buildings either. Particularly interesting is the Church of Sv. Andrej situated at the foot of the Šalek castle. Its almost pristine Gothic design is invaluable for the study of medieval mindset in the valley. External and internal parts of the building feature decorative frescoes.  The original Gothic pavement has been preserved in the presbytery while portals and windows, in particular the decorative architecture, likewise have high artistic value. In town there are also the church of Sv. Martin, which is one of the oldest churches in the Šaleška dolina valley, and Mati božja (Mother of God), a Gothic church refurbished in the 18th century and featuring rich décor and furnishings; in addition, there are several other, more or less preserved sacral structures in the area.