The village of Olimije is located in the east of Slovenia in the Styria (Štajerska) region, right on the border with Croatia. The whole area is idyllic, awash with unspoilt nature, lush green forests, hills, vineyards, and far from any major roads, industry and pollution. It’s no wonder, then, that it has won several ‘best kept’ village awards.
The star of the show, which has people flocking to see from far and wide, is the Olimje church, Minorite monastery and old pharmacy.
Olimije is almost a direct extension of the town of Podčetrtek, which has a tourist information centre, numerous accommodation options, eateries and a handful of shops. The town is also served by special ‘spa trains’, operated by Slovenian Railways, which run from Ljubljana. Visitors arriving by train are also entitled to special discounts and benefits. More information here – http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/en/passenger-transport/around-slovenia/the-spa-train
Once there, the dinky tourist road train is a perfect way to get around and see all the area’s sights of interest.
During my 3-day visit I stayed at the Olimia Thermal Spa, which makes an ideal base for exploring the area, and where you can also indulge in some luxurious treatments and water-based activities at the Orhidelia Wellness Centre that has for the last five consecutive years been voted the best in Slovenia. You can read plenty more about that here –https://spasinslovenia.com/2016/06/07/terme-olimia-the-best-wellness-centre-in-slovenia/
From the spa I went by bike on the cycle path to Olimje. My first port of call was a visit to the Olimje church, monastery and old pharmacy. This place, formerly a castle, was first mentioned in historical records in 1208 as a place of the Shrine of the Assumption of Mary. The castle was then turned into a monastery and pharmacy – now one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe.
For over 120 years it was inhabited by the Pauline Monks, who, in 1665, were responsible for building the magnificent and extremely ornate Baroque church, which features one of the biggest golden altars in Slovenia, as well as numerous other notable pictures, frescoes and statues.
The Pauline Monks produced their own natural remedies, and, according to their monastic rule, the monastery had to have a room for any sick brothers with an adjacent room for medicine and remedies. The frescoes in the pharmacy were painted by Lerchinger in 1780 and represent various biblical scenes.
I was astonished at the number of people, hailing from all over Europe, that were queuing in the pharmacy to buy herbal teas, tinctures, syrups and apiculture products. There seems to be a ‘cure’ for every ailment imaginable, all of which are grown and produced by the monks-in-residence.
Adjacent to the monastery building is the Syncerus Chocolate Boutique (Čokoladnica Olimje). Yes, you’re right, that was the MAIN reason for my visit!
I was, literally, like a kid in a sweet shop trying to choose from all the delicious handmade chocolates on offer and I might, just might, have bought a few (kilos!). The shop is open daily throughout the year, from 10am – 5pm in winter, and from 10am – 7pm in the summer season. More information here – http://cokoladnica-olimje.si/
My next stop, just a few minutes uphill from the monastery, was the Jelenov Greben deer farm. The estate comprises a guest house and apartments, a restaurant, a shop selling homemade products such as venison sausages, jams, juices, honey etc., the Star Ata winery and, the stars of the show, the deer and mouflon which roam the estate freely and seem largely unperturbed by humans – meaning you can even get right up close to feed them. More information here – http://www.jelenov-greben.si/
Also within close proximity is the Amon Estate, which is a family-run business and the oldest private winemaking company in Slovenia. The estate features a 9-hole golf course – A Golf, a guest house, and a small shop selling homemade products. It was a perfect spot for me to sit back, take a break, and enjoy the tranquillity and the views. More information here – http://www.amon.si/index.php?si
More information about all the above, and more, can be found here – http://www.turizem-podcetrtek.si/en/
© Adele in Slovenia