Fortunes and misfortunes of Lože Castle through the time

A story that began in the Middle Ages

The history of Lože Castle spans almost 1000 years, starting from the building of the first estate in the Middle Ages, rebuilt from scratch, later In the 17th century, on the foundations of the medieval castle.

The property developed gradually, as many medieval lordly estates, expanding its area across the hill overlooking the green Vipava Valley. Lože Castle has always been an unfortified manor house, with no defensive purpose, a neutral and peaceful space in a quiet region. Its ownership passed through a succession of about 12 families until dr. Josip Mihael Mayer bought it around 1800 from Janez Philip Cobenzl.

The Mayers was a forward-thinking and cultured family coming from Germany. During the ownership of Mayers, Lože Castle slowly turned into a small village:

several outbuildings for workshops and utilities were built in the area to fulfill all the inhabitants’ needs.
From the 19th century until the Second World War in the 20th century, the Mayers made the house a meeting place for artists and poets, who used to live in the mansion, under the patronage of its cultured owners.

Unfortunately, the decline of the estate began with the Second World War. At that time, the Mayers heavily suffered from those painful misfortunes resulting from the political situation. The dream of Evgen Mayer, the last owner of the castle, an agricultural engineer, was only partially fulfilled, as he always promoted the education of the young peasants and the progress of agriculture in the region. After the establishment of the Yugoslav Government in 1945. the mansion served as an Agricultural School.

From the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 19th century

The troubled story of Lože Castle and the Mayer Family


After long legal proceedings, Countess Sofia Coronini, the wife of Michael Coronini, left the estate of Lože to its rightful owner, dr. Josip Michael Mayer.

At that time, the estate was redesigned. They arranged the outer courtyard, set up a smithy, and rebuilt the service wing as the servant’s residence. They also arranged a garden in front of the main entrance to the castle and a road that still runs through the vineyards.


Jožef Mayer, the eldest son of Josip Mihael Mayer, inherited the estate upon his father’s death. Like his father, he studied medicine in Germany and, later, worked as a doctor in Vipava. He had no immediate heirs. His younger brother, Evgen Mayer, who also lived in the castle with his family, passed away 7 years earlier than Jožef.


The eldest son of Evgen Mayer took over the estate upon his uncle's death. Ferdinand Jožef Mayer was born in the castle where he was living with his brother and his mother. Although he was married, he had no children.


Upon his death, Ferdinand Jožef left the estate to his mother, Karolina Dolenc. His brother, Karel Evgen Mayer, a solid Slovene and an uncompromising nationalist, merchant, and landowner, married Ana Dejak, whose family from Senožeče had founded a brewery in 1820.


The last owner of the Lože estate, before the II World War, was Karel Evgen Mayer’s son, Evgen Karel Mayer pl. Leitenburg. He managed the estate between the two World Wars. At that time, the Lože estate was the center of culture and a meeting point for artists. The Mayers strongly believed in education as a means of progress for both people and society.

Evgen Mayer was a firm supporter of the socialist ideology to the extent that, in 1934 upon his father's death, he shared the ownership of Lože Castle with his sisters. It was something exceptional back then. Right before the II World War, Evgen Mayer, with his friend Musina and his protégé Černigoj moved the castle painting collection to the Doge's Palace in Venice. It was stored in a warehouse at the palace to save them from looting, but soon after the war, someone smuggled it. Evgen could never tell who made it as he never signed for releasing the collection from safekeeping. During the Second World War, Evgen Mayer and his family lived in the castle, sharing it, at times, with the Italian soldiers. After the defeat of Italy, the Mayers witnessed the alternating of the German soldiers and the partisans at Lože estate.

In Yugoslavia, the monarchy was abolished in November 1945 and, in 1946, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was established with a communist government.
In the fall of 1945, Evgen Mayer and his family had no choice but to leave Lože. As a noble family, the Mayers had no more incomes nor state subsidies. Evgen was not actively involved in the Agricultural School project established at Lože Castle. He was ill and very disappointed. He was forced to consign Lože Castle to the Yugoslav government. The Mayers moved to Vila Rafut, in Nova Gorica, where Evgen died, in 1970.

From the nationalization of Lože Castle to the ruins


At Lože Castle, in 1946, an Agricultural and Household School was established. Anton Flego was the director of this school. It was initially supposed to operate as a Household and an Agricultural School. After one year, the Household School was converted into a 3-month course. The following year a Wine-Fruit School was established and operated until 1961. During this time, more than 4000 students completed various programs.


After the dissolution of the school, the collapse of the castle began again. At that time, the Vipava Agricultural Cooperative managed the estate. They converted it into an inn in 1966. Later, it was the warehouse of the companies Fructal and Lipa. In 1987 the castle was emptied and closed.


In the early 1990s, the vandals started to destroy the interiors of the castle. They tore apart and took away architectural and decorative elements, staircases, floor tiles, and even copper pipes. They also demolished most of the outbuildings. In 2003, the municipality of Vipava, with the financial help of the Ministry of Culture, restored the roof and installed new windows and doors.

The denationalization process and the return to the Mayers


The daughters of Evgen Mayer, the last owner of Lože Castle, have been struggling for the denationalization of the property, engaging in a lengthy and unusual court proceeding. The Ajdovščina administration should have been in charge of resolving the case, but it submitted the Mayer sisters’ request to the local district court that rejected it in 2001. According to the court decision, later confirmed by Koper High Court, there was no proof that the state authorities had taken the property through threat or violence. The Mayer sisters appealed to the Supreme Court. It ordered the judges of the local district in Ajdovščina to reconsider the case. They declared themselves incompetent in this procedure, but the judges of the Koper High Court ordered the Mayers to file a new request for denationalization in the initial Ajdovščina district court!

Thanks to the Supreme Court that recognized Mayers’ property rights, since 2013, the castle has been returned to its rightful owners.

The future of Lože Castle

Lože Castle returned to the Mayers in utterly poor conditions. A few compelling hypotheses for the recovery of the ruins, like the one voluntarily provided by a passionate architect, bode well that Lože Castle could be restored to its past splendor. Lože Castle could be a significant piece of cultural heritage for the whole community and the new generations.
Due to the large extension of the property, the lack of financial resources is an obstacle to recover the place and make it available to both the community and tourists. The cultural organization Kulturno Drustvo Von Leitenburg is starting a process for rescuing the castle from destruction. Everyone can help in different ways!

We hope you’ll get involved to save this treasure, a silent witness of some very controversial moments in the history of Slovenia.