Castle Vodriž


Castle Vodriž in all its might

Castle Vodriž, German Wiederdries, is a family castle built in Gothic style. Its remains are located at settlement Vodriž in city municipality Slovenj Gradec. Castle was erected by Aquileian feuds, knights Hebenstreit, around the year 1300. The first document in which the castle was mentioned, at the same time it is one of the fundamental documents for information about its building story, dates on April 5th, 1338. Today’s remains are still very good preserved and worth seeing. Castle presents a very interesting trip in nature for all history and romance enthusiasts, which is further enriched by the circular Green path with a story, prepared by primary school Podgorje in Slovenj Gradec. Next to the castle is a memorial landmark. The castle stands on a steep domed hill, which is hard to see today because of the overgrowth.

Castle Vodriž, Georg Matthäus Vischer, Topographia Ducatus Stiriae, Graz 1681

Castle once owned more than 111 hectares of arable land, of this 50 hectares of forest. That time owners, Aquileian feuds, brothers Hebenstreit, divided the castle into three parts. Henrik got an external tower and a third of the courtyard. Bertol got the house and third brother Frederik got the lower tower. Henrik and his wife shared the path with others, the path that leads towards the castle through the courtyard. The inhabitants of the castle got their water from a cistern that stood in the fort. Everyone took care of repairing the cistern. The castle was a typical representative of Ganerbenburgs, which means that more than one knight was the owner of the castle.

The entrance into the castle was across a completely filled moat, which was well protected. On the northern side of the castle was guardhouse, on the left were buildings for servants. In the large square inner tower was a tight castle courtyard, to the left was two-story residential tower Palas, which means the main residential house. On the northern side on the left are the remains of the castle chapel. In residential buildings were wooden ceilings. Ground floor was used for a wine cellar, on upper floors were the lord’s rooms. Not far away from the castle was a cemetery, slightly lower along the path a castle pond, where the gallows stood. In the year 1766, the castle was burnt down, because the fat got lit while the cooks baked the donuts.

Below the walls of castle Vodriž

After brothers Hebenstreit, the owner of the castle was Henrik Vitanjski. In the year 1436, non-noble owners, nephews of Henri Evstahij Eberstreiter, Hans Winter, Viljem, and his son Moritz, sold the castle to archduke Friderik junior. The Habsburgs grant it to Hans Ungnad as a feud. In the year 1564 the castle comes into hands of Erazem Gall, in the year 1606 to Hans Amman, in the year 1629 to Joachim Ruess, in the year 1681 the castle is taken over by his heirs and then by barons Teuffenbach, who in the year 1727 sold it to baron Janez Jožef Gebelkhovn. In the year 1784, was as an owner of lordship declared Jožef Ramšek, in the year 1803 J. Conrad, in the year 1815 Jurij Kometer, who was the last declared owner. Vodriž estate, in the end, comes to the hands of family Peharnik, once in the 18th century, who dismembers and sold out the estate. The castle was once also a hunting court for Celje counts.

Overgrowth through time

Still today a legend remains that the castle cellars are full of wine and money. Under the castle once was a secret passage, which entrance was near farmer Marovški in the valley. Past the castle once run important path, which connected Slovenj Gradec with Šoštanj, before the road through Huda jama in the year 1829 was built. In times of NLS, the Kajuh technique was once located near the castle, in a secret place in the forest, where partisan material was printed. Today there stands a memorial landmark. Past by the castle runs also European footpath.

After the end of Second World War, the hermit Valentin Podstenšek found a sanctuary in the castle, the son of Jože and Jožefa Postenšek from Razbor. There were 12 children in the Razbor family, Valentin was the tenth child, who was born in the year 1901. As there was no opportunity to make money near his hometown, he finds himself a work in Lower Carniola with a landowner. He worked as a hunting and forest ranger. There he falls in love with neighbor’s daughter Anica, but her father was strongly opposed to their relationship.

One day, Valentin and Anica were sitting on the grass, when her father lost his judgment and aimed his gun towards Valentin, but he shot Anica, who died in his arms. In his songbook, which he published in the year 1936 he wrote:

Once again we sit there
on the green grass
whisperingly we talk
about the happiness of my, and hers.
From the forest shot flashes.
To me, it was devoted.
In the heart of Anica it struck,
in her virgin chests on the left side.

After this tragedy Valentin goes into solitude, soon after this, he appears in the castle Vodriž. From that day on, he signed himself as Valentin Eremit. Under this name, he published a songbook titled Hermit’s verses, which was published in the year 1925. In a songbook he writes:

Earthly goodies I do not search anymore,
wealth I do not wish anymore,
to correct previous mistakes
in solitude, I now submit myself.

According to narrations of older locals, people often visited him in the ruins, as they attributed to him supernatural power. When he came down to the valley among the locals, they always wanted to feast him. But his answer was always the same: »Thank you, I will not, I already ate the roots.«

One day, when he was visiting farmer Marovšek, his humble residence burned down. He found his new home in Huda luknja. Valentin died in the year 1936, what is written on their family memorial in a cemetery in Razbor. When you visit the castle Vodriž, close your eyes and from there silence and peace you will maybe hear his verse:

Here I do not mind the rattle
of holly return,
there are no illusions here
of earthly life.
Birds of small chirping
in the morning dawn awakens me
sweetens my life
and suffering in penance.

The castle today belongs to the immovable monument on national importance, proclaimed on October 6th, 1999. Castle Vodriž or Hermit’s castle is one of the mightiest castles remains in Slovenia. Preserved are two residential towers, residential houses, part of the walls, and chapel on the first floor with a three-octave ending.

The view from an opening
Castle Vodriž


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