Discover the treasures of Metlika

Truly special experiences

Metlika. Photo: Uroš Raztresen

Metlika lies in the hilly Bela krajina region below the Gorjanci mountains. To the south it is bordered by the Kolpa, Slovenia's warmest river. Metlika's charm lies in its diverse natural and cultural heritage, and above all its friendly and hospitable people.

Situated in the south of Slovenia, in picturesque surroundings, Metlika was once a true crossroads of cultures, religions and nations. It has a rich history and was for 200 years the capital of the Habsburg military frontier zone known as the Militärgrenze. The raids of the Ottoman Turks left their mark on Metlika, as did the two World Wars. The town began to flourish in the late nineteenth century, a period that saw the establishment of the first organised firewatch in Slovenia, the creation of the first national reading society in Bela krajina and the wider Dolenjska region, and the founding of the first savings and loan bank.

The medieval town consists of three picturesque squares, on one of which stands the imposing Metlika Castle, today home to the Bela krajina Museum and the Slovenian Firefighting Museum. The town square (Mestni trg) is the location of St Nicholas's Church, the provost's house and the former commandery of the Teutonic Knights, a medieval religious order. Here, too, is the building that once housed Wach's pharmacy, with its relief of the Holy Trinity, and the town hall with its roof turrets and iron town crest. Old streets, elegant townhouses, interesting façades, beautifully carved doors and balcony railings, along with the numerous plaques and symbols on buildings, all give us an image of the life of our ancestors.

Enjoy unspoilt nature

The river Kolpa offers an intact, picturesque, and invaluable source of inner peace. Photo: Big Berry

The Kolpa, the river that marks the border between Slovenia and Croatia, is one of the cleanest and most unspoilt in the country. It is exceptionally well-stocked with fish and other species, many of them rare and protected. A very warm river, it is ideal for swimming, kayaking, rafting, canoeing and angling, and also for walks along its banks. In 2010, the Kolpa was awarded the prestigious title of European Destination of Excellence (EDEN). Cycling routes lead through Metlika and its surrounding area, a landscape full of karst phenomena, meadows, vineyards, fields and forests.

Events in Metlika

The Wine Spring in Bela krajina, or Vinska vigred v Beli krajini, has for years been the biggest wine festival in Slovenia. For three days in May, Metlika lives and breathes the Wine Spring. This traditional event based around winemaking and local culture takes place in the three squares of the old town centre, and every year attracts numerous visitors from near and far who are keen to sample the local wines and gastronomic offerings. The event began as a competition at which the region's wines were judged and placed on display, a custom that has survived to the present day. The event now also includes a flatbread competition, and the coronation of the wine queen. 

The vigred also caters for the more athletically inclined, and for 35 years cyclists have been taking part in the now traditional ride from Ljubljana to Metlika for the event. The nine-kilometre St Urban's Run has also been a feature of the vigred for the last 11 years. The Wine Spring is an unforgettable experience for visitors which gives them a chance to discover local customs and traditions, enjoy a varied cultural programme featuring folklore groups, tamburitza ensembles, choirs and wind bands. They can also visit one of the town's museums or the art gallery, make their own Belokranjska pogača, try succulent lamb or suckling pig, roasted on a spit, and spend the evening dancing to the rhythms of local rock and pop groups. 

There is also plenty going on in Metlika in the summer months. A very well-attended series of international cultural events called Pridi zvečer na grad  ("Come to the Castle Tonight") takes place in the castle courtyard, and every year offers a high-quality, varied programme featuring top local and foreign performers. Music, poetry, dance, theatre... there is nothing nicer than sitting down on a warm summer's evening to enjoy a pleasant event that is lent additional charm by the castle that serves as its backdrop. Pridi zvečer na grad, nežno zveni vabilo, pridi občudovat, kaj se bo tu zgodilo ("Come to the castle tonight, / the gentle invitation is clear. / Come to the castle tonight / and see what will happen here"). This is the annual invitation from the organisers, composed specially for the event by the poet Tone Pavček.

Text by Danila Golob