The Devil’s Tower

Even as a little girl I had a special affection for the stories told by old people, I loved the old photos and I used to wander through the old deserted buildings. Although I grew up in the countryside, far from any central points, I was never bored. Before my eyes have always stood empty old buildings that testified about the past life …

By Sonja Bezjak

A Slovene version/Besedilo v slovenščini

I have often dreamt of making the old buildings alive again, spinning the wheel of history, at least for a moment. Until I discovered Art. But this was already a long time ago …

The ruins of the Žužemberg castle rising above Krka River (Photo:

One hot day in July I was on my way to Dolenjska, southeastern part of Slovenia.  About an hour drive from Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, between the hills and the vineyards green river Krka reveals itself. And when its breeze blows over the heated body, the feeling is a little divine. But the trail leads further, past the ruins of Žužemberk Castle, again along the river – to the village Soteska (Eng. Gorge) where the path splits in the direction of the Dolenjske Toplice and Bela Krajina.

Right there at that fork, the ruins of the once mighty mansion Auersperg are painted in front the eyes. Not far from it, in the middle of the endless green fields, the castle pavilion rises. The yellow moon glowing in the back completes the charm of this warm summer evening.

Excited and full of expectations, taking a step on the white sand I approach the torches illuminating the solemn facade of tonight’s venue. It does not carry a very friendly name – The Devil’s Tower, and the stories about it are whispered by the distinguished guests quietly to each other’s ears.

On a summer evening the Devil’s Tower invites us

Apparently the three-century old building was once a place of entertainment and pleasure. The clover-shaped baroque tower is inside painted with illusionist composition. It combines motifs of wells and portals, ancient mythological scenes and female figures, depicting faith, hope and love.

The Festival Seviqc, whose guest I am this evening, invites to a place, which provides an escape from reality into mysticism.

Kleme Ramovs
Klemen Ramovš, founder and creative director of the Festival Seviqc

At the door of the pavilion I greet the director of the Festival Seviqc, Klemen Ramovš who already for three decades takes care that the most beautiful monuments in Slovenia, which are not few, come to life in a very special way. Some of them are empty and abandoned, and with the festival they come back to life at least for a few hours in a year.

The musicians from around the world populate the space with the most beautiful concerts of old, historical music. Abandoned chambers are filled with art; because of art the musicians come to remote villages and for hosting such festival the villagers get the chance to enjoy the beauty of art, which is usually reserved only for urban centers. It is Klemen’s “winning formula” that keeps the festival alive and rich for so long.

I should already take my seat, the organizers of the event are encouraging me, the pavilion is small and the seating is limited. With my great love for the past, I walk through the stone door and sit on one of the chairs, which are organized in two rows in a circle around the laden table.


This evening will be special, artists Marco Horvat and Olga Pitarch, who came to the Dolenjska Hills from faraway France, offer the songs “a la carte”. On the table they laid the tarot cards and invited the audience to choose the performing songs and set “repertoire” by dragging the cards.

The French ensemble Faenza managed to renew in the Baroque pavilion the relationship between the spirit of fun and socializing, which was typical for the musical salons of the 17th century. No doubt they succeeded. With the sounds and with the game they led visitors far back, perhaps even ahead. Mischievous, witty, seductive, scary, cold … they painted all shades of life in front of us.

At the end, the artists invited us – accompanied by their sounds – to move under a starry sky.


To whom were they singing and playing in the middle of the village silence? To the white moon high in the starry sky? To us, who came to Devil’s Tower from all the corners and places of Slovenia? This evening, in a forgotten corner of Slovenia conjured another time, which would have been difficult to feel without art. This also is why we should follow the festival which is all summer moving around different Slovenian castles, manor houses, granaries, mills … testifying about life in another time.

And so I tasted and saved a bit of sinful life from the long history of the clover-shaped pavilion, deserted in the middle of the green hills.

Translated by Marijana Podhraski


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