Mekinje Monastery – a model of effective absorption of LEADER/CLLD funds (LAG Heart of Slovenia)

Mekinje Monastery – a model of effective absorption of LEADER/CLLD funds (LAG Heart of Slovenia)

  • Datum objave 25.04.2024

About the Mekinje Monastery

The Mekinje Monastery has a rich history dating back to 1300, when it was founded by the married couple Seyfrid (Žiga) and Elizabeta Gallenberška (of Mekinje) as the first monastery of St. Clare in Carniola. This monastic tradition continued for centuries until the Ursuline nuns generously donated this precious piece of heritage to the Municipality of Kamnik in the 21st century. This decision was made due to the prohibitive cost of rebuilding and maintaining the monastery.

Today, the Mekinje Monastery is managed by the Public Institute for Culture Kamnik, which runs a wide range of educational, cultural, artistic, tourist and other events. Its aim is to maintain and promote links between the various institutions in Kamnik and to attract visitors to a wide range of cultural events.

The operator of the Mekinje Monastery takes care of the building and pertaining land, manages the movable heritage, presents and promotes the history of the monastery, Kamnik and Slovenia. In addition, it carefully protects the monastery’s property in accordance with the conservation plan, manages the cultural heritage collections, stores archival material and presents cultural content to the public. The Institute holds exhibitions, educational programmes for different age groups, educational and cultural events and publications about its activities. It also works with cultural and educational institutions at home and abroad, and carries out other tasks that complement its core activity of preserving cultural heritage.

With the help of European funding, the monastery’s building underwent renovation, transforming an abandoned cultural treasure into a space that has come back to life with new content and purpose. The Mekinje Monastery Revitalisation Project, also known as the Transformation, was funded by the ERDF. The project served as a tool to revitalise an abandoned cultural heritage building and to build the capacities of the inhabitants of the urban area of Mekinje and Kamnik. The Municipality of Kamnik revitalised part of the monastery complex, including renovating its large and small halls, and the halls of the current exhibition. In partnership with the VEZAL Institute and Noah Londer Charney, it created a range of useful content for the local population. The municipality has made it possible to transform the building and continue its use, while respecting its past values, traditions and the cultural and educational development orientations of the monastery.

The EAFRD project Monastery – Meeting Place was created to present the history of the Mekinje Monastery in a modern way and to unite local herbal and handicraft products under the monastery’s brand Doroteja, named after the abbess of Mekinje, Dorothea Sidonia Gallenberg. The project partners, the Public Institution Mekinje Monastery, the Municipality of Kamnik and Vrt Zdravilnih Rastlin, d. o. o., have created new opportunities for entrepreneurship and tourism in the area of the LAG Heart of Slovenia, and have encouraged wider networking and cooperation between people from across the LAG area.

The project focused on several key initiatives, including the creation of an exhibition highlighting the monastery’s rich history, the establishment of a monasterial herb garden, the promotion of links with local herbalists and other suppliers of the Doroteja brand, the establishment of the monastery’s information point and the opening of a shop selling Doroteja products. Supporting activities included thematic workshops tailored to vulnerable target groups and the establishment of the Doroteja School. Some activities were aimed at promoting the monastery’s expanded range of products. The project content, combined with the new museum collection and herb garden, now forms the monastery’s expanded permanent product range. 

The monastery grounds were landscaped with the help of the EAFRD project  Knowledge of the Past for a Healthy Future. The project aims to preserve and rejuvenate the Mekinje meadow tall-trunk orchard, which, apart from the orchard in Tunjice, is the only systematically preserved and professionally maintained orchard of its kind in the area covered by the LAG Heart of Slovenia. Old domesticated and indigenous fruit tree species have been planted near the Mekinje Monastery, while the existing old varieties have been preserved. In the orchard itself, an ‘insect hotel’ has been built in a dry stone wall to encourage tree pollination during flowering and to reduce pests. The project also aims to promote the traditional cuisine associated with the fruit produced in the local orchards. Cooking workshops are held to revive old recipes and present them to the public. The monastery’s ground floor has been renovated and equipped with a mobile kitchen counter and sinks for courses and workshops. The hall can also be used as a lecture room and, in bad weather, as a venue for fruit tree workshops that would otherwise take place in the orchard. The dishes and recipes are also used to prepare meals for the monastery’s guests (the monastery also has accommodation for tourists), which strengthens the authenticity of the local tourism portfolio. The Public Institute of Culture in Kamnik, the Municipality of Kamnik, the Fruit Growing and Horticultural Society of Tunjice and the Rural Women’s Society of Moravče took part in the project.

The Mekinje Monastery is located near the river Kamnška Bistrica, which has its source in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. By providing accommodation, the monastery plays an important role in supporting the newly established waterway – Waterway around the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, co-financed by the EAFRD as part of the LAG project – The Network of Waterways in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. In cooperation with LAG Heart of Slovenia, LAG Gorenjska Basket, LAG Upper Savinja and Šalek Valley and LAG Regionalkooperation Unterkärnten, partners from the entire Kamnik-Savinja Alps region contributed to the project. The waterway, which is 190 km long and divided into 11 sections, crosses 4 rivers, 3 lakes, over 100 springs, and 100 streams and waterfalls. The route, which is featured in the Alpine Association of Slovenia’s maPZS hiking app and on the Kamnik-Savinjske Alpe website, boasts natural drinking water springs whose quality is regularly monitored. Metal cups placed next to the springs offer hikers the opportunity to replenish themselves with refreshing spring water along the way. There is also a map in Slovenian, English and German with details of the waterways.


About LAG Heart of Slovenia

The Mekinje Monastery is located in the Municipality of Kamnik, which together with the municipalities of Dol pri Ljubljani, Litija, Lukovica, Moravče and Šmartno pri Litiji forms the LAG Heart of Slovenia. It is an area in the central part of Slovenia itself, where the geometric centre of Slovenia is located in the immediate proximity of the capital.

LAG Heart of Slovenia has been operating since 2007 and is financed by two European funds – the EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) and the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) for the 2014–2020 programming period, with almost EUR 2.5 million of EU funding available for the implementation of the local development strategy. Under the EAFRD, the LAG has been approved 29 projects, 22 of which have been completed by 31 December 2023.

LAG Heart of Slovenia, together with its lead partner, the Development Centre of the Heart of Slovenia, is very much involved in international networks and has a number of references for cooperation in various European programmes.