Stories: THE ŽIČE CARTHUSIAN MONASTERY
A solitary monastery in a narrow valley of Žičnica stream in Slovenia was the first Carthusian monastery in Central European German and Slavic countries. The remains of the monastery speak of its historic knowledge, huge library of science books, its medicine, herbs, and bloody Ottoman attacks. The Žiče Carthusian Monastery was established in 1160 by the Styrian border count Otokar III. and his son, the first Duke of Styria Otokar IV. of Traungau. Since it was the first Carthusian monastery outside the classical countries of the order, Pope himself had to allow Carthusian monks to come here under the leadership of the first prior Beremund. These were mostly French, and their solitary quiet lives were devoted to contemplating and praying. Twelve monks and 22 lay brothers. What is nowadays the Zice Carthusian Monastery is only it's upper house. Two kilometres down the valley was it's lower house that was completely burnt to the ground in the Ottoman attacks. The monks were also craftsmen and healers. The lower house actually had a hospital, that was moved to Gastuz at the entrance to the upper house after the attack. Gastuz is now the oldest bar in Slovenia. Their medical practices did not die down after the fall of the lower house. Years later, Claudius Guiot opened a chemist shop in the upper house that is now considered the oldest public chemist in Slovenia. It was among the best in this part of Europe. The herbs were grown in a herbal garden outside the walls of the upper house. It is still there. But in that time, they had a green house and it was actually heated by an underground stove. The tradition of herbal medicine in Zice Carthusian Monastery is still alive today. They also grew vine and produced wines that were later sold. The monks were highly educated. According to Paolo Santonin's travel notes from 1487 the monastic library is supposed to have counted over 2000 manuscripts, dictionaries and books in 80 natural sciences, which could easily compare to the library of Sorbona in Paris. Not many libraries of that time had that many manuscripts. The Grande Chartreuse in France was well aware of its importance. After a break in the order, the Zice Carthusian Monastery even temporarily took on the role of the Grande Chartreuse which gave it wealth and power. But in later years, disease and herecy plagued it. Further more, the Ottomans found it. According to reports, they attacked it at least twice. Nowadays the monastery is a cultural tourist attraction and venue, still so remote that there is no mobile telephone signal. Artist come into this peace and quiet to create, others to calm down and contemplate. Twenty thousand tourists annually come here to hear what has been unknown for so many years. In 2007, a part-fictional Medieval event, based on real events, reenacted the Ottoman attack on the monastery that happened in March 1531, when the Ottomans tortured monks and skinned prior Andrej. No one knows what happened later, but the monastery continued its mission, slowly diminishing, until Franz Joseph II closed it in 1782.