Kamnik (Mali grad - Small castle)

12th century

Mali grad (Small castle) is for the first time mentioned along with upper castle of Kamnik relatively late in 1202 in a document which was used by patriarch Peregrin II. of Aquilea to lend 1000 Pirkdorf marks to Bertold, duke of Meran. For higher security of loan duke Bertold pawned two castles in Kamnik to patriarch of Aquilea duo castella de Staine together with all their estates, farmhands amd maids, rights and appurtenances, except for ministerials. So the castle was then already a property of lords of Andechs who dominated the estate which ranged from Styria border on the east in Motnik and Trojane and all the way to Kokra, Kranj and Smlednik on the west. Lords of Andechs held an administrative center in Kamnik. Ministerials of lords of Andechs, named by Kamnik, are known from document dating to 1143-1147 when one Karel is mentioned.
Many castellans which are explicitly referred to as castellans of upper castle are of former ministerials of Andechs descent, who survived the Middle Ages. They were residents of small castle in 14th century where lords of Andechs probably had their mint. But others also had the right to reside on small castle at least already in the mid 14th century. In 1353 Chunrat del Gall with his heirs sold the right to live on lower Mali grad to Nyclaw from Kolovec - Purksäss zu Stein an der niedern Veste and in 1362 Nyclaw der Summerekker and his wife sold haus und Purksäss an der Nidern Vest zu Stein.
At the end of 13th century Mali grad burned down and was not reconstructed with the exception of chapel and bergfried. D.Kos (Vitez in grad) states that at the end of 14th century palatium was burned down - probably this is a mistake and 13th century should be right. In 1474, at the time of fight for heritage of counts of Celje, Gašper of Kamnik gave to emperor Friderik IV. Mali grad in Kamnik - seine kleine Veste Stain which was earlier pawned to counts of Celje.
No reports exists about the damage to Mali grad in earthquake in 1511 even though we know that damage to upper Kamnik castle was quite extensive. Valvasor mentions that the castle was totally ruined by unknown way and that most of its stones were used in construction of city hall. He also mentions that a court of provincial prince was once on Mali grad. Italian document of Mali grad, located in the archives of Franciscan monastery in Kamnik, reports that the ruins are full of vaults and caves. Situation of ruins in 17th and 18th century is clearly illustrated in oil painting from Zakal painted in 1779 and on the painting we can still see sexton's house, quadrangular ruin above Klanec and a chapel with small belfry which here still has Baroque onion-shaped roof.
Storeyed tower built above former bergfried on far west part if sextor's house, mentioned by Valvasor. Germans have turned it into a shelter during World War II. and evidences of this are still visible despite the restoration works on a tower.

Many legends of Kamnik tell, among other things, that once a lake was located where nowadays town is standing and the lake was spread from Nevelje and all the way to former suburb on Šutna, to parish church. Valvasor mentions that in the defence walls of Mali grad rings were attached which were used to moore ships. Another legends tells that both castles, Lower and Upper were connected but were separated by a terrible storm which has torn the mountain apart. Even more notable is a story of Veronika from Kamnik and her treasure hidden in cellars beneath the castle. Beautiful but evil countess, half fish and half woman was turned into a hideous monster after she turned down the help to a beggar. As a punishment she became half woman-half snake and she still goes to rest on a staircase in front of a chapel and wait for her rescuer.

As it seems, at present time no reconstruction works are in progress on the castle maybe with the exception of interior of bergfried. Chapel which last renovation and reconstruction and research, which lasted a long time which ended just before 2000 is open for visit but you should arrange for a visit in advance with TIC Kamnik. Visit of a chapel is also possible every year on mediaeval reenactment day.

Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Grajske stavbe v osrednji Sloveniji - I. Gorenjska (Območje Kamnika in Kamniške Bistrice)", Viharnik, Ljubljana, 1997, ISBN 961-6057-12-X
Stopar, Ivan, Dr.: "Gradovi na Slovenskem", Cankarjeva založba, 1987, ISBN 86-361-0280-4
Contact details:
Turistično informacijski center Kamnik
Glavni trg 2
SI-1240 Kamnik
Telefon : ++386 1 831 82 50
Telefon 2 : ++386 31 388 324
Faks : ++386 1 831 81 92
E-pošta : tic@kamnik-tourism.si
Spletna stran : www.kamnik-tourism.si
Web links:
Kamnik - St.Eligija chapel on Mali grad
Shows and entertainment:
Mediaeval reenactment days in Kamnik - Venera's (Venus') path, every year at the beginning of June.
GPS coordinates:
N 46° 13.471' E 14° 36.699'


View from north
Two-storeyed chapel with crypt along with old surrounding walls; mentioned for the first time in 1250 as capella superiori castri inferioris de Stein
It was built in a form of a tower, characteristic for the era of its creation; it was Gothic-vaulted after 1470 and completely baroquized around 1700
Window in surrounding defence walls on east side
Romanesque portal which is dated into early 12th century; another Romanesque is located in the storey
Profiled gable
Right chapter
Left chapter
A glimpse inside of a chapel; lower chapel in presbyterium was decorated with frescos after 1771 (painter Janez Potočnik), fragments of older frescos in aisle are depictions of vv.Erazem (St.Erasmus) and donors; it was painted around 1520 in a circle of Mojster Vid; also in presbyterium are remains of frescos from 15th century
Side entrance into the chapel on its south side
Originally single-storeyed but at least as high as present day castle chapel was built at least in early 12th century
View of both castle palatiums among which the one on right is sligthly younger
Many old-Slavix graves were found during excavation works in south-eastern palatium and also some pottery, two spurs, spear point, arrow points etc.
Somewhere on this place, east beneath the castle chapel a child's grave with temple ring made of bronze
Propugnaculum was located on the highest point of castle ridge and it was four or five storeys high; after earthquake in 1511 a low tower, which is still preserved, was built on its place
1982 excavation works inside of the tower uncovered 3,25m thick foundations with internal measurements 5,75x5,75m
North-west corner of tower is reinforced with buttress
In 1980-81 uncovered defence walls east of central tower represents foundations of older buildings and also four Gothic and one Romanesque key
View of excavations on north
Plain on a slope of hill which is connecting tower with chapel
Veronika's portal, reconstructed in great extent, was put into blocking wall in late-Gothic period
View of portal from outside
View through chapel to the top of the hill where ruins of Gornji grad (Upper castle) are located
Kamnik on depiction from 1779
J. V. Valvasor, Kamnik with Mali grad, copper engraving, detail
F. K. noble Goldenstein, Kamnik with Mali grad; Smolet's manor is visible on the right and on the left in the distance Zaprice castle
L. Benesch, sketch of tower on Mali grad