Original appearance of the castleVrbovec Castle, which dominates the confluence of the Dreta and Savinja at Nazarje, is regarded as the most important monument of secular medieval architecture in the Upper Savinja Valley. There are suspicions that a castle already stood here in the 12th century, but we have no proof of this. The castle is first mentioned in written records dating from 1248. Documents refer to it in its German name of Altenburg (Altemburch, Altenberch, Altenwurch etc.), while etymologists believe that the Slovenian name Vrbovec became established because the castle once stood in the middle of willow-covered common land (vrba = willow).
The original castle was built on a steep, excavated rock face in the middle of today’s castle complex. It served very probably for both housing and defensive purposes. It comprised two storeys and was covered in a steep shingled roof. In view of its exceptional position on a rocky outcrop at the confluence of the Savinja and Dreta it held special strategic status.