Štanjel is one of the oldest settlements on the Kras, distinctive for its old core. Its name derives from the church patron, Saint Daniel. Due to its strategic position, the hill was already settled in the prehistoric times and was also fortified in the Antiquity. The settlement was first mentioned in written sources in 1402. The typical 15th century defensive wall protected the inhabitants at the time of Ottoman incursions. The settlement reached its apogee in the 16th and 17th centuries; the majority of architectural features in the town originate from this time. Between the two World Wars, architect Max Fabiani, the then mayor of Štanjel, left his stamp on the town. During World War II, the place was partly burnt down and the castle was badly damaged. Revitalization of the core and restoration of the castle began in the 1960s and are still going on. After World War II, a new part of the town has developed on the plane under the old core.
In the vicinity of Štanjel there is an Austro-Hungarian military cemetery where Austro-Hungarian soldiers and Russian POWs are buried who died in the nearby war hospital in Štanjel Castle or its subsidiary hospital premises in the surroundings.