In Mestni trg (the Town Square), having a characteristic medieval shape, the most important buildings of the historic part of the town are located, i.e. Sv. Nikolaj Church, the Commenda House and the Provost’s House. In its central part, the square is quite wide, enabling gathering of people; therefore even today, every first and third Tuesday of the month, fairs are organised as remnants of medieval town privileges.

In Mestni trg, the birthplaces of the sculptor Alojz Gangl (1859-1935) and the writer Engelbert Gangl (1873-1950) are located, the previously operating Wach’s pharmacy (1886), in which a relief of the Holy Trinity, the Patron of Pharmacy, is built-in, and the first Narodna čitalnica (National Reading Society) in Dolenjska (1865).

At its exit, Mestni trg narrows down and leads us to the largest town space.

This is Trg svobode (Square of Liberty), which is closed by the Castle located at its highest point. Metliški grad (the Metlika Castle) stands at the highest point of the promontory between Obrh and Bojica.. It is first mentioned in medieval documents in 1338; however, its design is probably much older. Together with the town, it represented a defence line of the Kranjska Country during the period of Turks’ invasions. The Castle was severely damaged by fire in 1705 and 1790. After renovations, it has lost its fortress-like appearance. Inside the Castle building, there is a spacious courtyard surrounded by arcades. Since 1951, the Castle has hosted Belokranjski muzej (Bela krajina Museum). Permanent collections in the first floor include archaeological, cultural and historical and ethnological collections, and the collection of contemporary history. In the ground floor, there are a lapidary, a vineyard collection and the Gangl’s Gallery intended for occasional exhibitions. In summer time, cultural events named „Come to the Castle in the Evening“ take place in the courtyard. In the park in front of the Castle, there are busts of celebrities of Bela krajina, the memorial plaque of the killed and the victims of the Second World War from all the settlements of the municipality, the monument dedicated to a partisan of Bela krajina, the bust of Tito and four national heroes.

The building of the old Sokol’s gymnasium, which was used by Metlika’s Sokol Club members before the Second World War, hosts Slovenski gasilski muzej (Slovenian Fire Museum). There is a plaque placed on the stone in front of the Museum recalling establishment of the first fire brigade in Slovenia. It was established on 1869 by inhabitants of Metlika upon an initiative of the Metlika’s nobleman Josip Savinšek. The Museum is named after Dr. Branko Božič, who was responsible for establishment of the Museum. It is also worth mentioning the vine, a graft of the oldest vine in Slovenia, Modra Kavčina of Maribor. In the immediate vicinity, there is a building holding the inscription of Prva dolenjska hranilnica in posojilnica (First Savings and Loan Bank of Dolenjska).

The newest square of the old town centre is Partizanski trg (Partisan Square), as it is located in the area, which was already outside the medieval city walls. The building of the former elementary school built in 1886 is the mightiest building. The film director Osip Šest (1893-1962) was born in this house. During the Second World War, the building hosted a military academy. On the other side of the square, there is a birthplace of the Navratil’s brothers. The older one, Ivan Navratil (1825-1896), was a renowned linguist and ethnographer, and the Metlika’s folk dance group is named after him; while the younger brother, Anton Navratil (1832-1897), was a national awakener.

The birthplace of the principal, Dr. Mirko Černič (1884-1956), is also located in this square.


The permanent exhibition of the Bela krajina Museum in the Metlika Castle is titled The Life of People in Bela krajina from Prehistoric Times to the Mid-20th Century. People have inhabited the land between the Gorjanci Mountains and the Kolpa River since the Neolithic era onwards. Until the late antiquity, various nations used to live here and left behind their traces, which are seen today in the archaeological collection of the Museum. The cultural and historic collection shows the history of Bela krajina from the occurrence of towns in the 14th century and until the Illyrian Provinces. Particularly hard times were recorded in the 15th and 16th centuries, when Turks murdered, burned and pillaged throughout Bela krajina. Most of articles and other materials presented in the ethnological collection are related to people of Bela krajina. The name Beli Kranjci (White Carniolans) occurred in the first half of the 19th century after common white costumes used here in those times, and these inhabitants had given the name to the whole province. The contemporary history collection draws attention to the most important events in the first half of the 20th century. During the time of Old Yugoslavia, Bela krajina only slowly progressed from backwardness. It had no industry; but only a few larger craft shops and the Kanižarica coal mine. At the outbreak of the Second World War, it was occupied by Italians, and after Italy capitulated in September 1943, the land between the Kolpa River and Gorjanci Mountains become a free partisan territory, which was a unique phenomenon not only in the Second World War but in the history of warfare in general.


The Slovenian Fire Museum in Metlika founded by Gasilska zveza Slovenije (Fire-fighters’ Association of Slovenia) opened its doors to the general public in 1969, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of fire fighting in Slovenia. Namely, on 18 September 1869, the first fire brigade in Slovenia was established in Metlika.

The premises that were obtained by the Fire-fighter’s Association of Slovenia and the Museum in 1993 include three exhibition spaces. The beginnings of Slovenian fire fighting and its development up to the First World War are presented in the gallery. Here, a visitor can see old items, which are currently no longer seen in fire-fighters. There are fire brigade uniforms and commanders’ helmets, hatchets and other fire tools used by fire-fighters in extinguishing fires, and fire fighting decorations. In the hall, the fire fighting activity between the two Wars and after the Second World War is displayed. Significant emphasis is put on firemen training, competitions and care for young firemen, which gives the possibility for the future of the fire fighting organisation. In the basement, there is an exhibition of fire fighting equipment – fire fighting chainsaws on four-wheel animal-drawn carts.

In a somewhat remote exhibition pavilion near the Castle, there are numerous hand-held fire pumps. A special attraction among them is the hand-held fire pump from Grahovo near Cerknica dating back to 1836.

In 2003, the Museum was renamed into the Slovenian Fire Museum of Dr. Branko Božič. Dr. Branko Božič initiated the founding of the Museum, and served for many years as president of the Fire-fighters’ Association of Slovenia.


In 2003, Belokranjski muzej (Bela krajina Museum) accepted with gratitude and much responsibility at the same time, the grant of the Metlika compatriot, the academician Prof. Dr. Vinko Kambič, an internationally renowned ENT doctor, who was unfortunately already dead at the time, and his wife, the opera singer Vilma Bukovec Kambič, a many-year leading performer of the Ljubljana Opera House and the winner of two Prešeren Prizes. The collection of national importance consists of cultural and historic items (paintings on glass, furniture, clocks, lamps, art and crafts products) and artworks of various Slovenian artists: from generation of realists and impressionists to contemporary artists. A special place certainly belongs to the famous personality of Impressionism, Rihard Jakopič, and on the other hand, as many as twelve artworks made by one of the most successful painters, Zoran Mušič. There are also two pictures by Božidar Jakac and Maksim Gaspari, and artworks by France Pavlovec and Stane Kregar, three peaces of each. Lojze Perko is represented by two pictures of nostalgic and emotional chanting the beauty of our landscape. The academician Janez Bernik, certainly one of the leaders in his generation that was educated already at the Ljubljana Academy, is represented by seven works. There are also two artworks by our leading colourist Andrej Jemec displayed, the picture by Marijan Tršar, four pictures in acrylic technique by Jože Ciuha, and a number of other artworks made by various authors, including the sculptors Drago Tršar and Stojan Batič.


The Pilgrimage complex is distinguished by three Gothic churches, squeezed within the high walls of the cemetery. The northern church is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, the central one bears the dedication of See, the man (Ecce Homo), and the southern church the dedication of Our Lady of Lourdes. In spite of some research works, the history and architectural development of the complex have not been fully explained yet.


In 1268, the entire church organisation of Bela krajina was acquired by the Teutonic Knights’ Order, which was accommodated also in Rosalnice. Foundations of their buildings were discovered in the southwest of the churchyard walls. In the 14th century, the Parish in Rosalnice became independent, and around 1469, the Parish seat was transferred to the town of Metlika due to devastations made by Turks.


Despite turbulent times, the church complex developed during the 15th and 16th century into the most important Pilgrimage Centre in Bela krajina, where in August people of different nationalities and religions from both sides of the state border meet. Over centuries, all the three buildings were rebuilt several times and, consequently, we see in them the art styles from Romanic, Gothic and Baroque, to the Historicism of the 19th century.


The oldest church is the southern one, which has kept the Romanic nave. Around 1400, the northern church was built as a new building, and in 1438, it was decorated with frescoes, which have been preserved on the wall behind the main altar. The most recent is the central church, which was built around 1500. Due to its pilgrimage function, it was profusely furnished. The northern church boasts baroque altars and the organ from the 18th century, and frescoes from 1842 made by the painter Josef Egartner of Kranj. The two altars in the central church, which was painted in 1862 by the Egartner’s student, Jurij Tavčar, also date back to the 18th century. The southern church, which originally hosted the seat of the Parish, is distinguished only by a Neo-Gothic altar dating back to the second half of the 19th century.


The Drašiči neighbourhood with the vineyard cottage neighbourhood (like other neighbourhoods in Bela krajina) emerged after the 17th century. Its beginnings are most likely associated with establishment of the Sv. Peter Branch Church in Drašiči. In the vineyard cottage, which is a gathering space of the village community, they used to keep the wine gathered from members of the neighbourhood, and this wine was then lent and sold to villagers. Wine debts were cut on tallies and later recorded in debt books. Upon repayment of debts, they collected the wine interest in kind, which amounted to 50 % (for a litre of borrowed wine, it was necessary to pay back one litre and a half). When villagers ran out of wine in their own wine cellars, they usually borrowed it in the vineyard cottage. Almost always it happened in spring or in summer farm work. They repaid their debts soon after harvest, when the must had not become wine yet, so that it could ferment in common barrels in the neighbourhood’s wine cellar.

Operations in the vineyard cottage were managed by two men („šekutar“) elected by the neighbourhood’s members, and they were also in charge of common assets in the vineyard cottage and the collection of wine debts.

Operations of the Drašiči neighbourhood and its wine cellar have not been terminated during all the years after the Second World War.

The Drašiči neighbourhood has ensured a thorough external and internal renovation of the Branch Church in the last decade, and in 1999, they also renovated the building and the surrounding of the neighbourhood’s wine cellar. For several years, they have used this cellar to show the operations of the only „bank“ still alive – a rental of common, neighbourhood’s wine in Bela krajina – to groups of tourists, and offer them to taste and buy the wine produced by local winegrowers.

In autumn time, on the third Saturday in November, people of Drašiči organise a traditional Pohod po poteh soseske zidanice (Hike along the Paths of the Neighbourhood Vineyard Cottage). Along the 11.5 km long path, hikers stop at several posts where, in addition to fine wine, they taste traditional homemade delicacies prepared by locals.

The trail winds among the autumn-coloured vineyards, hills, from one vineyard cottage to another. Hikers can refresh at the Vidošički zdenec spring, watch the Church of St. Ana embraced by vineyards, and enjoy the sounds of music bands.


The reason why partisans constructed the Otok Airport was the fact that at the Tehran Conference (in 1943), Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin decided to recognise the partisan army as the only legitimate military force in the territory of Yugoslavia. The condition for sending aid to Yugoslav and Slovenian partisans was to ensure adequate, safe airports, including signalling. The aid, such as ammunition, weapons and other military material, and food, medicine and medical supplies, was mostly sent by Englishmen and Americans, and less by Soviets. They also rescued many of the wounded, allied pilots, children, women and the elderly.

The Piccadilly Hope Airport was relatively small; it measured a good 800 meters in length and about 100 meters in width. Difficulties were caused also by weather. The airport was often useless due to rainfall; moreover, the needs were growing, so they started considering a new and larger airport in Krasinec.

The last flight to the Partisan Airport in Otok took place on 28 April 1945. In 1984, the aircraft was brought to a meadow in the vicinity of the Otok village near Metlika and set up as a museum item, a memory of hope in severe distress of World War II.

Douglas DC-3 aircraft or its military version C-47 is a twin-engine propeller aircraft with four crew members, originating from USA. It is extremely tough, manageable and durable. The aircraft is the only preserved specimen in Slovenia; therefore, it is of utmost importance for the Slovenian military history.