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On the verge of a picturesque village stands Prem Castle, proudly rising between the hills of Brkini. During its 800-year history it has been through turbulent times, but – unlike other castles along the river Reka – it has survived. It has changed hands several times. The last owner – Doctor Bruno Zuccolini from Trieste – saved the castle from being sold as construction material and converted it as his own residence. He furnished it in his own style, and so Italian elements can be found at every turn.

Venetian consoles representing a man and a woman.

Zuccolini is said to have received guests in the ceremonial hall, with its black walls and interesting paintings. “The lower part of the hall was apparently usually intended for male visitors, and the women chatted on the balcony,” says the curator, Mateja Kakež. The locals tell that musicians sometimes entered through the door in the upper part of the hall to surprise Zuccolini’s guests.

The paintings in the lower part of the hall show women representing the four seasons, and in the upper part they depict horoscope signs. Zuccolini is portrayed as Sagittarius, and his wife as Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting.

A painting in front of the entrance to the castle chapel represents St. Christopher holding the car with which Zuccolini drove to Prem.

Zuccolini attracted attention among the locals with his car, and among the children, with his dressed-up dog. Ivanka, an older lady, remembers when she was a little girl: “We picked violets and gave them to Lady Zuccolini. The lady gave us some money and we bought caramels in the shop.”

After the castle was nationalised, life there didn’t come to a standstill. On 18 August, the celebration of St. Helena, balls used to be held on the grass field outside the castle walls. “Boys from the village brought benches, picked pine branches for decoration and put up a stage made of pallets. “It was pretty, all decorated with lamps, and both old and young danced …” remembers Hermina, the castle caretaker. Men used to play bowls in the courtyard. “Not even a storm would chase them away, and sometimes the whole village could hear them arguing about the game,” her daughter Karmen adds.

One of the guests at the Prem castle was historian Janez Vajkard Valvazor.

The romantic setting of the castle garden is ideal for weddings. (Photography: Marjan Krebelj)

Today the castle serves as a venue for various events. Many couples have already tied the knot in the castle courtyard. Among them are Sara and Robert. “I always said I would get married at Prem,” said Sara. “She fell in love with Prem just like she fell in love with me,” adds Robert, smiling. “It is small, charming, and modest, but magical,” explains Sara, and adds that a civil and church wedding can take place under the same roof here.

Photos: TIC grad Prem

Občina Ilirska Bistrica

Bazoviška cesta 14

6250 Ilirska Bistrica

T. +386 (0)5 71 41 361

F. +386 (0)5 71 41 284

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