Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kostanjevica Monastery

After visiting the bee farm on Wednesday, we had lunch and then drove a short distance to the Franciscan Monastery Kostanjevica in Nova Gorica.  There, we were given a tour by a monk who, of all things, has gone fishing at the Lake of the Woods on the Minnesota/Canada border several times.
The monastery was built on top of a hill overlooking the city in the 1600’s and has a very interesting history.  One highlight is the crypt underneath the chapel where the tombs of the Bourbons (the French Royal family exiled during the French Revolution of 1830) are kept.  This includes King Charles X, whose actions are said to have brought on the revolution.  Ironically, he came to Gorica in 1836 because Gorica was cholera-free and he feared the cholera outbreaks that were happening across Europe; seventeen days later he became the only citizen of Gorica to die of cholera.  There are seven other members of the Bourbons in the crypt as well.
A second highlight is the library, with books dating as far back as the 15th century.  The most prominent book is a Slovenian grammar book written in 1584 with the author’s autographed inscription.  This book was “discovered” in the library in the 1950’s and is one of only eight known copies in the world.  Unfortunately, during World War I, the books were moved to the basement (Gorica was very close to the Soča Front) and many were damaged in the process.
There is also a beautiful garden filled with Bourbon Roses.  We decided to head out before the presentation on the history of these roses, as the kiddos were a bit restless by then.
As we said in the previous post, on our way out we took a wrong turn and suddenly realized we had crossed the border into Italy.  This is an added bonus of driving here…not only is it easy to get completely lost on narrow, winding streets and roundabouts, you can also accidently end up in another country!

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