At the heart of the village of Begunje stands a cultural monument of national significance: the mighty Katzenstein Mansion. Take a stroll beneath the tree crowns in the horse chestnut tree lined promenade to reach architect Jože Plečnik's masterpieces and the Cemetery of Hostages in the park next door.
The Katzenstein Mansion
, originally known as Begunje Mansion, was built in the fourteenth century, but its present-day appearance was established with renovations in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. The original sixteenth century Renaissance building was extended in the seventeenth century with the construction of a new rectangular residential wing; the two parts are linked by a single-flight staircase adorned with stucco decorations.
During the eighteenth century, a further residential wing was constructed in the Baroque style on the opposite side of the original building, creating a symmetrical front façade
In 1875 the castle was sold to the Austro-Hungarian judicial authorities and an all-female penitentiary
was established there. It was managed by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. During the German occupation, political prisoners
were incarcerated in the mansion; after the war it once again reprised its role as an all-female penitentiary for some time.
Since 1953, a major part of the mansion has been occupied by Begunje Psychiatric Hospital
. The single-storey building at the north-western end of the residential wing was annexed in 1875. During the occupation, it housed German prisons, and a Museum of Hostages
was established in its confines in 1961.
From the mansion, a horse chestnut tree lined promenade leads to the gazebo named Brezjanka
and pavilion with the Chapel of St Joseph. The designs for both were prepared during the period 1937–39 by the famous Slovene architect, Jože Plečnik
, and commissioned by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. The pavilion, reminiscent of an Antique temple, displays features which are typical of Plečnik's work, and is named Jožamurka
The park is home to burial grounds
— designed by the architect, Edvard Ravnikar — for 457 hostages and 18 World War II combatants. The bronze statues of a hostage and a prisoner, as well as the karst marble sculpture of a female hostage, all of which can be found in the park, are the work of the sculptor,
The mansion and its prisons, the adjacent park and its burial grounds, as well as Plečnik's Jožamurka
were declared cultural monument of national significance
The mansion is not open to visitors, but you can visit the Museum of Hostages and the park.