Kostel (Kostelsko) is a vibrant countryside, which lies along the left bank of the upstream of the Kolpa River. It lies between Čabar and Osilnica in the west and between Predgrad and Stari trg in the Poljanska dolina (Poljanska Valley) in the east. Its population is around 700 people and it cover 5,667 hectares of land. The province is named after its famous Kostel Castle.
The geographically diverse area of Kostel offers plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling, water sports, hiking, and even history buffs will find that there is a rich history of its oldest and most important cultural and historical monument – its castle.
The castle is a popular tourist spot from which you can witness an unforgettable view of the Kolpa River canyon. The name Kostel is derived from the Latin word castellum, meaning fortress or refuge. The Kostel Castle with its settlement complex is one of the largest castle complexes in Slovenia. It is just behind the Celje Castle in size, which is considered to be the largest in Slovenia and it is the only castle that combines the castle and its living settlement under it. Kostel has a rich religious heritage, as there are quite a few chapels and churches in the area. In the square below the castle stands the oldest gothic church in the area named “cerkev Sv. Treh kraljev” (“the church of the Three Kings”).
If you want to know more about Kostel’s history than a visit to its castle and the market square below will provide a variety of information about its secretive history.
Throughout the short climb to the castle, you will be accompanied by a view of the Kolpa River, which is one of the cleanest rivers in Slovenia. The river offers you many opportunities for sports activities such as swimming, rafting, and kayaking. You can also choose to admire the beauty of the river by biking on the path that leads along with it.
On the main road near village Fara, you can see the Nežica Waterfall. There is a parking lot by the side of the road near the Waterfall. Nežica Waterfall is also called Tišenpoljski Waterfall, named after a nearby settlement of Tišenpolj. The waterfall is 15 m high and it springs beneath a rocky and steep slope of the Tišenpolj Hill. The picturesque waterfall above the road falls over a dolomitic wall lined with the tufa stone. Tufa is a sedimentary rock that is formed when water containing calcium carbonate flows over organic matter and excretes itself on the matter. You will recognize the rock by its strong porosity, punctured appearance, and lightweight. There is also a legend telling how the waterfall got its name. “There was once a girl named Nežica, who drove a pair of oxen to the waterfall to feed and water them. She then drowned when the water sank and pulled them all to the bottom.” Below the waterfall, there is the famous Grbac Mill, powered by the Pr’farski Trench and is the only mill in Kočevje region.
Kostel Mountain Trail
For those who enjoy hiking and exploring the natural and cultural sights, visiting the Kostel Mountain Trail is almost a must. The trail was recently arranged and marked by hardworking local mountaineers. The trail leads past many natural and cultural sights and allows you to get to know this remote and almost forgotten gem of nature even better.
The start and the finish of the trail are in the same destination – directly at the main road in the village Potok. The trail has some ascends and descends and will mostly take you through the woods. The total length of the trail is around 22 km. It is suitable for experienced hikers as well as those who do not often hike, the only difference being the time of the hike. The fastest will finish the hike in around 4 hours, while the slower hikers can spend up to 7 hours on the trail soaking in its scenery. The path starts with a gentle slope and then ascends past the village “Planina na Stružnico”, which is known for the hunting lodge of the former lord of the Kostel castle. Only ruins remain of the lodge today. The path continues with a steep climb to the interesting Kuželj wall with its natural window. An interesting fact about the Kuželj wall is that the villagers once used it to measure time by the shadows falling on the wall.
The path then descends to the village Rake where it splits into two parts. One path goes up the hill past the slopes to the settlement “Laze pri Kostelu” (315 m) and the other goes down the road through the village “Kuželj” (236 m). At one point the paths merge again. From there on the path will again ascend up the slope to the “Kos” summit, onward to the cart track and then turning right past the village “Štajer”, back to the starting point in the village “Potok”
The hike is suitable for families as well as for those who like to explore on their own, as the Kostel region offers countless opportunities to spend your time actively.