The History of Brdo

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Ever since 1446, a country mansion has stood here - the owners of which were knights of the Egkh line of nobility. The translation of German zu Egkh namely means Brdski or "of Brdo". So began the rich history of the estate that still carries the name of its first lords.

By the end of 1630, Jurij Brdski - Georg Egkh developed the original mansion into a large and well fortified castle and named it after his family – Castle Brdo. After Georg Egkh´s death, the castle was taken over by his son Ivan Josip, who was even more successful than his father. Finally, the castle passed into the hands of his own son Adam, fated to be the last Egkh - Brdski landlord. In the middle of the 17th century the noble family began to degenerate economically, and the Brdo estate began to crumble.

By late 17th and early 18th century, the castle passed into the hands of the Schrattenbach and Gallenberg noble families for a short period. These families reunited the estate.

In 1753, the entire estate was bought at an auction by Michelangelo Zois, wholesale merchant, owner of ironworks and mines, and one of the most prosperous businessmen in all of Carniola who exported iron and steel to Italy and even to the Far East. For Brdo, a new story begins here, the story written by the fascinating Zois family over a period of more than 155 years.

In 1776, a year before Michelangelo died, he left the estate to his oldest son Sigismund Zois, who thus also became owner of the mines and ironworks and by that one of the richest Carniolan feudal lords and industrialists of his time. Baron Zois was highly educated, a dedicated patron of the arts and literature, an avid natural scientist and a collector. Between 1785-1790 his brother Karl Zois, a botanist, designed the first Alpine botanical garden in Slovenia. He planted it with a variety of Alpine plants, which he  collected on his mountain hikes. In addition to the botanical garden, the Brdo park also had two promenades, a viewing platform, a baroque park, a tree nursery, and the flower, winter and party gardens. At the end of the 18th century 10.686 plants already thrived in Brdo park (7.446 tropical plants and more than 3.000 fruit trees).

In 1806, after his uncle Sigismund’s long illness, Karl II, the nephew, became landlord at Brdo. He took good care of the serfs, but he was less competent in handling the estate, and in 1836 the entire estate thus passed into the hands of his son Anton. He was Mayor of Predoslje and built the school, helped to plant the school's tree nursery, received and awarded the most diligent pupils each year, donated money to the parish for the poorest pupils' winter clothes and supported all the national societies. The last Zois who administered Brdo up until 1928 was Michelangelo III but due to bad management and lack of funds, the castle and estate fell into disarray.

In 1929 Brdo was sold at an open auction. Most of the land was bought by wood merchants and businessmen Franc Dolenc and Stanko Heinrihar, and some of the land by local farmers. The new owners renovated the dilapidated castle, re-covered the roof and tidied its surroundings. Since they didn´t find an appropriate purpose for it, they sold it together with the estate in 1935.

Between 1935 and 1941 Brdo was under the ownership of the Karađorđević family (Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and his wife Olga). They thoroughly restyled the castle and the land and Brdo soon became one of the most beautiful estates in Yugoslavia; a luxurious government summer residence. Besides the royal family, only a few chosen ones were allowed to access the estate.

In 1947, after a decree on nationalization, the estate became property of the Executive Council of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), with the purpose of becoming a residence for Josip Broz Tito, president of the Republic. It was here that the Yugoslavian icon welcomed many statesmen and spent his holidays and free time. Tito spent more than two years at Brdo until January 1980, when he was taken to the Clinical Centre in Ljubljana.

In 1961 president Tito passed the rights of ownership, with a special decree, onto the Republic of Slovenia.

After Tito´s death in 1980, guardsmen came and practically robbed the castle of presidential gifts and furniture which was supposed to be used for Tito´s Museum in Belgrade.

In 1980, the castle passed under administration of the Executive Council of the people´s Republic of Slovenia and in 1990, after the election and declaration of Slovenia's independence, Brdo became the property of the Republic of Slovenia.


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