Located 10km southwest of Kostanjevica na Krki, the enormous Pleterje Monastery belongs to the Carthusians, the strictest of all monastic orders. The Gothic Holy Trinity Church (also called the Old Gothic Church or Stara Gotska Cerkev), 250m up a linden-lined path from the car park, is the only part of the complex open to the public but the location, in a narrow valley between slopes of the Gorjanci Mountains, is so attractive that it’s worth a visit in any case.
Pleterje was built in 1407 by the Counts of Celje. It was fortified with ramparts, towers and a moat during the Turkish invasions, and all but abandoned during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The Carthusian order, like all monastic communities in the Habsburg Empire, was abolished in 1784. When French Carthusian monks returned in 1899, they rebuilt to the plans of the order’s charterhouse at Nancy in France.
You may catch a glimpse of some of the white-hooded monks quietly going about their chores – they take a strict vow of silence – or hear them singing their offices in the Gothic church at various times of the day. But the ubiquitous signs reading Klavzura – Ni Vstopa (Enclosure – No Admittance) and Območje Tišine (Area of Silence) remind visitors that everything apart from the church is off-limits.
Above the ribbed main portal of the austere church (1420) is a fresco depicting Mary being crowned and the Trinity. Inside, the rib-vaulted ceiling with its heraldic bosses and the carved stone niches by the simple stone altar are worth a look, as is the medieval rood screen, the low wall across the aisle that separated members of the order from lay people.