Between Nova Gorica (Slovenia) and Gorica (Italy) there is a 143 m hill on which stands the Church of the Annunciation Mary and Franciscan Monastery (Samostan Kostanjevica). The pilgrimage place is rich in history and treasures of the past. In the famous library of the Franciscan monastery - Škrabčeva knjižnica - several incunabula and one piece of the Bohorič Grammar Book can be seen. In the church crypt lie the mortal remains of some of the members of the royal French House of Bourbon, among them the last king of France and his son, the Duke of Angulem. In the former garden of the monastery, at the southern fasade of the Kostanjevica monastery, there is a collection of Bourbon roses. It is one of the biggest and most complete collections of Bourbon roses in the world.
Chapel and the franciscan monastery
Kostanjevica or Kapela is the most western part of the forest reserve Panovec. The church and the monastery are seen from far away. The first chapel (a smaller church), dedicated to the Annunciation of Our Lady was made built by the count Matija Thurn in 1623-25 presumably in appreciation because the Pope allowed him to marry his relative. He simultaneously built a smaller monastery dedicated to the church’s caretakers and to the spiritual lessons for laymen. Both church and the monastery have a varied history which is marked by expansions, closure, reopening, demolition and construction, intrigues among the various orders of monks, destruction and salvation of the library, buying and selling the church organs, altars, bells. After the last reconstruction in the period from 1924-29 the church preserved the greater part of its former splendour (paintings, stuccoes) at least in the interior, while, in the past the façade was also distinctively more playful in its baroque style.
The Škrabec's library
In spite of being frequently moved, whereupon thousands of precious books were lost, the library of the monastery is still extremely rich, having more than 10 000 units in various languages. Its greatest value comprises thirty incunabula among which the oldest dates back to 1476. Unique is the first Slovenian Grammar Book by Adam Bohorič (1520-92), in Latin written Arcticae horulae succisivae (Winter hours, 1584), which is given an additional value by the author’s dedication. The library, which holds the name of Stanislav Škrabec, has been a cultural and historical monument ever since 1952.
The tombs of the Bourbons
Since it has always been a locally important sanctuary with tombs of numerous aristocrats from the Goriška region, Kostanjevica is also the last residence of the French kings from the Bourbon dynasty or a “little Saint Denis”, as it is called with all due respect by the French Royalists. In the crypt under the altar, in the sarcophagi made of the stone from Aurisina (Nabrežina in Slovenian), there are the mortal remains of Charles X of France (1757-1836), the last King of France and Navarre (between 1824 – 30), his son Louis XIX (1775-84) and grandson Henri V (1820-83) who both never ruled, Louis’ wife Marie Thérese Charlotte (1778-1851), Henri’s sister, the Duchess of Parma, Louise Marie Thérèse d’Artois (1819-84) and Henry’s wife, Marie Thérese Beatrice Gaetana (1817-86) who made her husband’s last wish come true and united the last members of the dynasty in one place, as only Charles X and his son died in Gorica. The wife of Charles X, Maria Theresa of Savoy, is buried in Graz. The crypt is “guarded” by the Court Minister of Charles X, Pierre Louis Jean Casimir deBlacas, who followed him into exile.
The Bourbon roses
In the garden under the monastery there is a collection of the Bourbon roses, probably the most extensive in the world. It is worth having a look at it particularly in the spring time when it is in full blossom.
Opened daily: from 9 am – 12 am and from 3 pm – 5 pm
Sun and national holidays: 3 pm – 5 pm
Groups admitted only by previous appointment. The Škrabec library can be visited only in groups and by previous appointment.
- library 2 €
- crypt 2 €
Škrabčeva 1, p.p. 103, 5000 Nova Gorica, Slovenia
t:: +386 (0)5 330 77 50
f: +386 (0)5 330 77 51