Snow Mountain Castle
The only reason why Sneznik (Snow Mountain) castle is our Second favourite castle in Green Slovenia is cos we are lucky enough to have the most unique castle in the world, Predjama, just a hike through the forest from the Lodge! It is just not possible to compare any other castle to Pyjama!
But hopefully our love for Sneznik, a pocket battleship of a castle, will shine through and make you think about popping off, just 45 minutes to the oldest forest in Europe and have a good look around and maybe a walk in that forest too..
Green Slovenia is packed with all different kinds of castles.. Roman, Royal, Medieval, WW1, WW2, forest, hill top, mountain top, cliff top.. protecting churches, roads and people.. Well, Sneznik is like a friendly old German hunting lodge, tucked away in a secret corner of the forest, but full of surprises and we think that if you compare stuff like location, presentation, stuff to see, then pound for pound or penny for penny, Sneznik is one of the best castle adventures in all Slovenia!
So what can I do at Sneznik Castle?
You can never have enough fairy tales in life and Sneznik is a fairy tale castle surrounded by a moat which reflects the sky like a big green mirror.
Remember to follow the brown signs for "Grad" (castle) from the little town of Loz, just past Krizna cave.. and before the bridge into the castle grounds you will see impressive square stone blocks on the side of the road.. they had the function of forming a fence to stop travelling horses eating the villager's grass and vegetables!
Another very special feature of Sneznik are the huge forested castle grounds with tree lined driveway and you can park anywhere here. Maybe right outside the castle next to the stepping stones used by riders to mount horses, also looking like a podium for a gold medal winner! Or maybe next to the stone monkey!
Tours start on the hour, so you need go over the drawbridge and turn right to go into the castle shop (the green wooden windows might remind you of a wizarding shoppe in Diagan alley).. where you buy a ridiculously cheap ticket.. a family ticket is even better value.
Don't be surprised if you are the only people on the tour and usually this is a good chance to meet a local student, be impressed with their English, have a bit of a chat and ask a few other questions about Slovenia along the way!
The castle is much bigger than you might think, but the tour will whizz you around the 3 floors and basement, (which is Roman by the way) in about 45 minutes.
So this castle was used principally as a base for the loaded family to come on holiday and do a spot of hunting and as you go round all the fully furnished rooms it has a peculliar homely feeling about it.. as if the family have just popped out to catch a wild boar and will be back for a cup of tea anytime soon!
EVERY room, nook and cranny here has something of interest.. and you WILL see a bear.. a huge stuffed one with claws to scare and excite the children! There are suits of armour, grand paintings, coats of arms, stuffed wild animals with big teeth and even an Egyptian room! Check out the amazing heating system piping hot air all around the castle, some of the first electric lights installed in Slovenia and the servants bell devices on the walls.
And please do pay attention so you don't miss the peep hole by the window, where the lady of the house could have a quick look at who was calling outside without being seen herself, so she could decide if she wanted to let them in for the tea and biscuits or not!
There is one particular painting we really love here as well of St George.. or is it Georgina?? OK we know that in the old days often men resembled women, but come on, this was supposed to be a guy who killed the dragon.. so have a good look at this painting.. man or woman.. and if a man, why painted to look like a woman?
The castle has a huge front lawn that stretches out into the forest and it had a special purpose! In the winter it filled with water and was used to cut blocks of ice for the kitchen! Do give the teenager a nudge here to remind him, her or it that Amazon has not always existed.. so in the times before Amazon, ice could be ordered from Sneznik and sent all over the place to people who could afford it! Even as far as Trieste!
There is also an early ice fridge on display, so you can see how the ice was used.. how cool is that!
So there are lots of very pleasant little features that make this castle such a fantastic place to visit and to squeeze into your action packed day. You can whizz down here, do the tour and scoot off on your next adventure, or spend much longer, maybe bring a picnic and have a walk in the castle grounds.
But whatever you do, at least do the full walk around the exterior of the castle.. it is a very beautiful building indeed.. and look out into the forest at the back of the catle and you will see a mysterious stone entrance door.. it is sooooo Lord of the Rings, we love it and there is another wooden door to find out in the forest too.
Oh yes and just before you start liking Slovenians too much, they hunt Dormice.. JUST get over it! In the old days they were really poor and hungry and this was the only winter meat they could get and the fur also made great hats.. so if you want to know more, then there is a little museum next to the castle that shows you a little bit about dormouse hunting and how they still catch the little furry creatures every October!
And hiking or biking fans will be delighted to know that Sneznik is also a major dot on the uberamazing "Green Heart" Hike that begins from that little town we mentioned before called Loz (we wrote the name again cos we knew you would forget that one) and goes through tiny villages, forest, past the castle, along the shores of a massive disappearing lake and through a WW2 secret allied airfield..
This 5 hour hike goes in the shape of a massive heart and takes place as an annual event every October.. we have done it several times and really enjoyed ourselves! It is a local cultural event and one of the many, many festivals in Green Slovenia that foreign visitors will sadly never see, cos for some wierd reason most of you only think to come in Jul and Aug!!! There are stalls along the way with music, food and shall we say "warming" local drinks along the way..
You can do the walk any day and the Green Heart map is available so there is absolutely NO REASON why you should't do this walk for yourselves or go with a local guide.. either ask in the LOZ TIC (Tourist Info Office) tel 00386 816 02853 which is the same place to enquire about bear watching by the way.. but for these kinda things please call well in advance.. and if you need help just ask us and we can help to hook you up with a local or a guide or a map!
And once a year in the summer there might be a "Knight's Tournament" in the grounds of the castle with jousting and general merriment in the perfect Medieval setting.. if you are around at this time of year, pick up your sword and shield and hurry to the castle!
So you could tramp around Ljub castle with masses of other selfie taking tourists and then have a lovely long walk round the shops and the marketplace by the river.. there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.. BUT YOU NEED TO KNOW that it is also perfectly within your own choice and power to decide to stroll around Sneznik castle instead, with only echoes and ghosts for company (oh yes and probably a local student and a stuffed bear) and then have a walk in green paradise for the day.. There is no catch.. You can really do this.. just put that thin tourist book or notsosmart phone down and go visit Sneznik castle!!
And you will have some other really difficult choices to make for your amazing adventure in the Green Slovenian countryside as there are so many other amazing places and natural green wonders close to this castle to see that it is impossible to fit them all into one day.
Lipizzaner Lodge guests often combine a visit to the castle with a tour down one of Slovenia's best secret caves, Krizna, (Cross cave) which is on the way to this castle. Or maybe you will visit both and then go bear watching in the massive green forests around here?
There really are so many options you could mix with a visit to Sneznik castle, maybe even climb up Sneznik mountain, at 1,796m the highest non Alpine mountain in Slovenia! On the way from the Lodge you could also see Rapunzel's Tower, the Baby Dragon Cave, the biggest disappearing lake in Europe or the amazing natural rock park that is Rakov Skocjan or a bit further into the countryside you might prefer to visit Kadice, a secret river springs or the Tower of Torture at Ribnica!
The only two things that are as sure as a dragon and fire, are that you will need at least 4 days to see all of the secret places close to Sneznik AND you will be almost alone in Green Nature.. no crowds, no ice creams, no busses.. maybe a bear or two!.. We never charge any guest who has been eaten by a bear, by the way!
And your last amazing fact for Sneznik.. this ancient forest between Sneznik castle and Croatia is the ONLY forest in Europe to contain ALL the 3 big wild European carnivores, being the Bear, Wolf, Lynx and Lion.. (just joking about the lion), but seriously don't worry, you have almost zero chance of meeting a bear.. you will need to go with a local expert to even have half a chance of seeing one!