Cucumber castle on the Kirk river!
We absolutely love Zuzemberg castle and we are sure you would too, if you only knew where it was and could actually say it! Well, we were trying for ages to pronounce it properly, as it has not just one, but two of those scary Z's with thingys on the top, so we decided to just call it Cucumber castle!
This castle is yet another fab mini castle to visit in Green Slovenia and will not take up more than one or two of your hours to visit, including a coffee stop. More importantly, by deciding to come here it will put you on a different path for an amazing and special day out.. the castle guards a section of the bottle green river Krka and you could easily spend your whole day exploring the entire length of this river.
So the trick is to visit Cucumber castle as part of a wider day trip exploring this hidden slice of the Slovenian countryside, (directly east from the Lodge or south east from Ljubljana) and the route is easy.. just follow the Krka river!
On this day out, you won't see the Taj Mahal or Bled lake or go up a mountain in a cable car, but you will be amazed at yet again, how completely different this secret part of Green Slovenia looks, compared to the other parts of this little country. You will also most certainly have a quiet, peaceful day away from the crowds as you sneak & meander far enough under the A2 motorway along the map all day! You will see lots of rolling hills, pretty villages with crops stored under antique wooden frames, (toplars) and you will surely develop a connection to the river.
Did we say this before?.. we absolutely love Cucumber castle and offer many congratulations to the local people of Zuzemberk who have recently and lovingly restored their castle!
You will always find a parking space directly outside and there are 2 cafes as well, so Cucumber is really perfect for a stop off on your day out. Inside the castle there are walkways, ladders, wooden staircases and even a spiral staircase inside one of the several towers that overlook the Krka river. It's difficult even as an adult not to want to just run around here wildly and explore!
Kids will absolutely love it. We found a huge wooden chair to sit in for a great photo opportunity which is next to a very dark dungeon that you have to almost crawl into to get inside! Up in one of the towers there is an exhibition about big local wild cats to thrill your little ones and there is no shortage of bunting, colour, pomp and splendour here.. Its one of those castles that really takes your imagination back in time. The only tiny negative point is there is almost no explanation in English, YET, but this will inevitably change and its pretty easy to navigate yourself around the castle.
Just like any Slovenian castle beloved by its locals there will be several festivals here over the year, which we would say are completely unmissable, but its easier to discover who shot JR than actually find out exactly when there is a local festival going on in Slovenia! We have often just happened upon a local celebration when visiting various places, so if you are lucky enough to walk in on one during your travels, cancel whatever else you were gonna do that day and just hang around and enjoy it!
You don't have to pay to get into the castle, but this article, like ALL our articles, is DEFINETELY not written for people who want to visit Slovenia on the cheap and we insist you make a generous donation to the castle box on your way out to justify the fun you have had here!
And the final unmissabubble feature at Cucumber castle is the large wooden stocks. So don't forget to bring some rotten tomatoes to throw at Granny!! If you haven't had your photo taken trapped inside the stocks in Cucumber castle.. then you haven't visited Green Slovenia yet!
So how do we get there?
Many visitors to Slovenia vastly underestimate how much time they need to see this amazing little country packed full of natural wonders, but even so, many, (incredibubbly), often overestimate their time in Ljubljana! (Probably cos you couldn't possibly imagine how much stuff Slovenia has to see in it until you actually get here.. and on a map, Ljubljana looks central.. but Lipizzaner lodge visitors know different! Let's clarify this point, yes we know Ljubljana is one of the cutest, most beautiful capital cities in Europe, it's just that we fear visitors are booking too much time there, cos they don't realise how many other amazing things there are elsewhere in Slovenia! Cucumber castle and the Krka river are excellent examples of this)!
Anyway, the Krka river and Cucumber castle are not that far from Ljubljana, so you could easily swap one of your city days by starting at Krka, trying to find the 2 sources of the river, either flowing out of the cave, (Jama) or bubbling up from the nearby jagged rockface and then spend the rest of a wonderful day out following the entire course of the river. You can easily scuttle back along the A2 motorway at the end of the day.
The source of the Krka river (Izvir) is just an hour from Lipizzaner Lodge, but there are so many places to visit on the way to Krka, (particularly if you use the country roads) and also after Cucumber castle, all along the river, right until it's end.
You could avoid Ljubljana via the motorway and start your daytrip with a coffee and visit at Cucumber castle, then follow the river towards Novo Mesto, (there is a very nice tea house here, just by the old bridge), visiting Otocek castle, then Chestnut village, (Kostanjevica), which is a little village trapped on an island, circled by the Krka river. You can go boating here at Chestnut, or maybe visit Slovenia's largest art gallery inside a stunning converted monastery, or go hunting Monk's beer or try to find a vineyard with the local Cvicek wine, (kinda like a rose, but yet ANOTHER UNIQUE Slovenian wine)!
You have the option to stop following the river at any point, jump back on the motorway or take another country route home, but you could easily follow the river all the way from start to finish, where the bottle green water crashes into the much larger Sava river at Brezice, a stone's throw from the Croatian border!
This is also a great route for guests on their way to Zagreb.. some visitors leave the Lodge with their next stop being at the Plitvica waterfalls in Croatia! All you need to do is arrange to arrive at the Falls in the evening and then you could spend another day, at your leisure, exploring this fab mini Krka region of Slovenia along the way!
As another example for you, one of our guests decided to follow part of this river route on the way to Metlika in the far south eastern corner of Slovenia. He had Slovenia's oldest fire brigade museum on his list and also visited a local vineyard making yet another unique Slovenian wine Black Metlika.. AND he drove back to the Lodge the same day using another non motorway route home.. Slovenia is very small folks, it's possible!
So we hope you will ty to visit another one of Slovenia's fantastic castles and now be able to tell people exactly where you were! And wow, yet another beautiful clean river.. oh yes and why captain Kirk? Well that's how you pronounce Krka.. "Kirka".