Novo mesto Travel Guide

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Novo mesto, katedral,2006

Novo mesto, katedral,2006

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When one thinks of Dolenjska, the image of this varied countryside with its many hills, topped by churches, the imposing Gorjanci mountain range, the expansive Kočevje forests and the brilliant green Krka springs to mind. The Krka has served as a landmark to the inhabitants of Dolenjska and travellers for centuries.

Archaeological findings are beginning to complete the picture of the life of the early inhabitants of our local area. Lukenjska cave near Prečna served as a dwelling for Stone Age people. The archaeological sites from the Early and the Late Iron Ages are a real treasure. Favourable routes, the climate and the discovery of iron ore enabled the formation of settlements on naturally protected hills. Archaeological findings from this era bear witness to the great skill of the metal and clay shapers as well as the population density and the cultural development of this era. Every year new discoveries in this field maintain Novo Mesto's place among the most important European cultural centres of the period between the 1st and 8th century B.C.. The Roman overland route from Ljubljana to Sisak used to run near Novo Mesto and in the antique period the Romans left their mark in the area.

In the middle Ages aristocratic families and church institutions with their advance towards southern Europe and the consolidation of their political and economic developments on the newly conquered land began with the establishment of town and borough settlements (Kostanjevica, Otok pri Dobravi, Novo Mesto) which served as the administrative and military centres of their estates. Also the Hapsburgs needed a fortified settlement in order to consolidate their power in this area.

Novo Mesto (New Town) - as it has always been called by the locals (since it was indeed a brand new town to begin with) even though it was named Rudolfswerth after its founder Duke Rudolf IV. of the Hapsburgs - was established on 7 April 1365 on a piece of land where no settlements had stood before. The legacy of the very beginnings is still felt in the present-day Novo Mesto, more than 600 years later.
Craft and trade were the fundamental economic activities in the first few centuries and brought prosperity to the town. Its further development was cut short and rendered impossible by the arrival of the Turks, who however never managed to conquer it due to its fortified town walls. After 1786 the town walls were pulled down in places, and certain parts of it were made into residential buildings. The remains of the town walls can still be seen today on Štance by the Proštijski Gardens .

The town was managed by the elected town judge and members of town councils who used to hold meetings in the town hall in Glavni trg or Veliki trg. Glavni trg (the main square) was the very centre of the medieval Novo Mesto. The old town hall, which had been built in 1720, was pulled down and the new one built at the beginning of the 20th century. The town hall has always been adorned by the Novo Mesto shield with its image of the town founder Rudolf IV, and ever since the 14th century the shield has been the symbol of Novo Mesto.
In Novo Mesto there are important church institutions, which have taken an active part in the matters of the town itself and other parts of Dolenjska. In 1472 Franciscans who were fleeing the Turks took refuge in Novo Mesto and built a church and a monastery where St Leonard 's chapel used to stand. Learned monks took up an important role in the education of young people, especially after 1746, when a grammar school was set up in Novo Mesto by Empress Marija Terezija, who entrusted the monks with its management and the education of youth. The school was managed by the monks until 1870, when it was nationalized. The library, the renaissance tombstones and the church decor have lured lovers of beauty to the monastery ever since.

Emperor Friderik III and Pope Alexander VI founded a college chapter in the year 1493 at the St Nicolas church, which still operates in the town. The dominant position of the chapter church provides Novo Mesto with its distinctive look. The fittings of the church, amongst which the altarpiece of St Nicolas painted in the 16th century by the Italian Jacobo Robusti Tinttoreto takes the central position, the painting gallery of chapter provosts and the rich archive attest to the significance of this church institution.

A Capuchin convent also operated in the town between the years 1672 and 1786. Religious services were also held in the churches of St Martin, St Catherine, St George and St Florian, which remain today only in the names of squares and streets.

At the beginning of the 19th century also the French administrated Novo Mesto for a short time, and so the town was touched by the economic, technical and social happenings in Europe . In particular, in the second half of the century there was a national awakening which was seen in the town especially in competition between Slovene and German townsmen for domination of the state and especially municipal administration. Numerous national associations (The National Reading Club, The Sokol Association, The Fire Brigade Association, The Philharmonic Society) were founded in places where the townsmen were meeting and creating in different fields, morally and financially supporting the idea of Sloveneness. In Novo Mesto in the year 1873 the first Slovene national house anywhere was built. It became the central venue for social and cultural happenings in town until the World War. That was also the time when the first train arrived chugging into town, when the hospital, Kandija bridge and particular public buildings outside of the town wall were built, which evidenced the extension of the town in the 20th century.

World War I interrupted the promising development of the town, although it affected it only indirectly as a place in the hinterland. The poverty of the inhabitants and death of young men on the front marked these four years. We can understand the relief of the townsfolk when the war ended and brought about renewed efforts in various fields of work. In the economic field the foundation of industrial plants occurred, and the resumed activities of numerous pre-war associations, artists gathered in town and organized exhibitions of paintings with accompanying artistic programs. We can sense the mood of the time in the name of the Novomeška pomlad (Novo Mesto Spring) event. The Krka river also underwent a revival at that time. The townsmen built a watering place, boathouses, and clothes, washing facilities and promenades along the bank where they could spend some free time in the summer months.

The maelstrom of war once again rudely interrupted the flow of events in Novo Mesto. Following the short-lived German occupation, Novo Mesto was under Italian administration until the year 1943 and subsequently under German administration until the end of the war. The old town centre was badly damaged due to bomb raids but the loss of life was even more painful.

Novo Mesto changed its image in the second half of the 20th century. It finally freed itself from the borders of the medieval walls. This period saw the establishment of numerous industrial plants and the accompanying accelerated urbanism. In these years the main educational, health and cultural institutions in Dolenjska were established.

And then for a third time weapons disrupted the flow of events of the previous century. The first gun shot in the war for Slovenia was fired in Poganci.

Novo Mesto strides into the 21st century as the chief economic, administrative, cultural, religious, educational and sports centre in Dolenjska and has confidently assumed the leading position in south-eastern Slovenia .

Contributors

July 02, 2006 change by tropico (4 points)

May 10, 2006 change by giorgio

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